Twenty year old Harold stages fake suicides to freak out his snobbish mother, and also shows up at funerals of people he doesn’t know. At one memorial he meets Maude, a soon-to-be octogenarian who also enjoys funerals as much as she enjoys ideologically based car theft and being an artist’s model. Maude clearly has been a hippie or bohemian, a purposeful nonconformist anyway, since long before it was considered youth culture, and throughout her long and varied life. There are some hints at tragedy in her past. Harold has felt ignored and pigeonholed by his mother, and has never really lived. Maude helps him learn to live in the short time they are together. He thinks he falls in love with her, but in her life, he is just one of many interesting chapters. Harold and Maude boasts probably one of the best opening credits sequences of all time. If you haven’t seen it, go watch it on Amazon right now.
It is difficult to describe to you how Harold and Maude makes me feel. I’m supremely grateful to have the person my father is in my life every time I see it, because he sat me down and watched it with me when I was a teenager. A feeling of calm comes over me when I watch it. I’ve known cruel loneliness in my own life, although thankfully not for many years. The emotions that come with being an outsider never really go away, but Harold and Maude makes me feel less alone because of its celebration of the quirky people in life. There would seem to be so few of them that you feel like you have to cling to them when you find one; however, the truth I have to keep reminding myself is that proof of one understanding relationship, if you’re living authentically, really can just inspire you to go out and enthusiastically look for the uniqueness in everyone, and maybe even help them find it. And that’s what this movie reminds you. I’ll let the dialogue speak:
Maude : I should like to change into a sunflower most of all. They’re so tall and simple. What flower would you like to be?
Harold : I don’t know. One of these, maybe.
Maude : Why do you say that?
Harold : Because they’re all alike.
Maude : Oooh, but they’re *not*. Look. See, some are smaller, some are fatter, some grow to the left, some to the right, some even have lost some petals. All *kinds* of observable differences. You see, Harold, I feel that much of the world’s sorrow comes from people who are *this*,
[she points to a daisy]
Maude : yet allow themselves be treated as *that*.
[she gestures to a field of daisies]
Maude : [cut to a shot of a field of gravestones in a military cemetery]
I thought about saving this movie for the end of the month, as one has an instinct to build up to greatness when doing a theme. But I finally decided that after seeing Harold and Maude again, the movie itself would not want to be the end of the month of comforting movies, but would want me to grab onto that good feeling now, and then go and love some other movies.
Harold and Maude stars Bud Cort, who has gone on to make a career of playing slightly “off” characters, and Ruth Gordon, who of course played many tough ladies who didn’t take any crap. So they are both cast as type here, and perfect for their roles, even though this movie is unlike anything else that exists. She will be turning up again on this page later this month in a movie that costars an orangutan. And the director, Hal Ashby, will have another movie featured here this month as well. The third star of the movie is Cat Stevens’s soundtrack, so of course I have a cover for you.