“Death.” The story reveals around the whole idea of life and death, and begins as a young man gradually walks down a staircase as he prepares to hang himself. While death is not the basis and average beginning for a love story, it’s the first scene in Harold and Maude. Harold and Maude is dark comedy that challenged my views on life and love. The story is about the relationship between two people belonging to two different generations.
Bud Cort, as 20 year old Harold, is fascinated by simulated suicides most hilariously sacrifice by fire. Harold enacts many, not to kill himself, but to draw attention from his mother. No one saw him, until he met Maude. Ruth Gordon plays the role of the 80 year old, free-spirited woman, Maude. Maude just can’t get enough of life, and is not afraid to break the rules.The writer Colin Higgins, and director Hal Ashby, show why life is worth living through Maude.
Harold is influenced by Maude to look at life in a new way. She leads him through a number of spontaneous adventures allowing him to see that there’s more to life than death. For example Maude convices Harold that they should steal a city tree so they can bring it to the forest. Harold believes that it’s a bad idea because the tree is government property, but Maude wants to give the tree meaning and life. While Maude is setting the bad example of stealing she is also showing Harold that you can change.
You can always find life. While the movie challenges our views and shows us that life and love can be found in even the smallest things, this wouldn’t have been possible without the use of music. British singer/song writer Cat Stevens takes the movie to another level.
Every song within the movie brings Harolds realization of life’s meaning one step closer to his realization. For example, in the song I Think I See the Light Harold finds his love for Maude and is seeing life rather than death. “Until you came into my life girl I saw nothing more.” Maude ends up giving Harold life and encourages him to go out and create his own music with his Banjo.But the movie is not all about witty quips and “funny” scenes.
There are mournful moments, such as a significant glimpse of the real reason why Maude has such a passion for life, and the gradual romantic development of Harold and Maude’s relationship. Harold’s baby face and teen-age look is creepy and cringey alongside Maude’s tiny and wrinkled frame, but as performers they bring it home. We gasp in horror, but end up rooting for the couple as they are obviously made for each other. In the end, we can’t diminish Harold and Maude’s specialness. Just like Harold, we slowly fall in love with this amazing larger-than-life petite old woman. She has inspired me to buy a banjo and “Go and love some more.”