on October 29, 2002
I know people who have visited Venice and Prague and seen only the graffiti. I know people who have watched Harold and Maude and seen only an affair between a young boy and an old woman. I suspect they're the same people, and I feel for them.
I love movies. I love a lot of movies for a lot of reasons. My "top ten" probably includes about a hundred. But if I have to choose one, I can never think of one more complete, sweet, amazing or satisfying than Harold and Maude.
on March 9, 2004
Here is a film that I just cannot get enough of, and, I fear, is grossly misunderstood by far too many people. A love story like no other, an inspired lesson in self-awareness and fearlessness in self-expression - this may fall into the "cult" department, but should be seen by all.
Unfortunately, the extreme May-December romance of Harold and Maude raises eyebrows to the point that many see only this aspect of the film - "Oh my God he slept with an 80-year-old woman oh my God" - but in actuality, this has so little to do with the film's message. It points out that love comes in all shapes and sizes, and most often when we least expect it. Also, that a friend of any age can open us to seeing the world in a new, more truthful light. Harold begins as an introverted, unhappy young man, whose only creative outlet consists of tormenting his image-obsessed, utter snob of a mother (thus forming the most hilarious visuals for the viewer). After meeting with Maude, his world rapidly opens to new discoveries, and a greater understanding of his fellow human beings. If you have any kind of heart, the final sexual union (relax, folks - we don't see the details) between Harold and Maude doesn't offend - rather, it warms the heart and soul.
The DVD offers a few treats - theatrical trailers, and, well, a great print. I feel that this is a definite must-own... it is truly an amazing film.
on June 5, 2004
Harold and Maude is an insightful, comedic and touching view of two individuals who are seemingly polar opposites. Ashby, the director, reminds the viewer that in death there is life and in life there is death and having a sense of humor is the best, if not the only antidote to both phenomena.
As many have mentioned, with a few dissenters, this is truly a wonderful film, full of irony and paradoxes. One falls in love with the characters and thus the film. Cat Stephens' haunting music provides a perfect soundscape to a film that will haunt
your memory for all time.
on January 30, 2004
"Harold and Maude" is not really a love story in the conventional romantic sense. It's more of a story about how one person can change another person's life just by being themself. Harold is a wealthy, bored, morose young man who gets his kicks by attending funerals of people he doesn't know and staging elaborate, fake suicides to rattle his mother. At one funeral he happens to meet Maude, another "funeral crasher". Maude, about to turn 80, is starting to wonder if her own death shouldn't be coming soon. The two quickly embark on a friendship (and, yes, even sexual relationship) which completely changes Harold's views on life. Maude is one of the greatest characters I've ever seen portrayed on film. At the same time daring and sensitive, childlike and wise, rebellious and spiritual, Maude is an elderly iconoclast whose fierce love of life has inspired her to free herself of almost all of society's restrictions. Frankly, she's my hero. At times touching, funny, inspiring and strange, "Harold and Maude" is one of my favorite films of all time.
on November 5, 2003
Everything I ever needed to know about life I learned from Harold and Maude. Mostly Maude, but why quibble.
1. As alike as people are, we have discernable differences.
These should be celebrated, expounded upon, enjoyed - not forced into ill-fitting boxes, for they make us what we are. Ignoring them is tantamount to erasing a person.
2. You're alive for as long as you feel alive; you're dead as soon as you stop feeling.
Maude knew this. She also knew that going out at the top of your game is far better than being ushered off the field, limping. Harold never realized he wasn't really alive until he had in his view someone whose life was in stark contrast to his own.
3. Loving one person means embracing love in general.
Go out and love some more! That's what Maude told Harold, though he refused to listen, initially. We cannot be decimated by love, only hurt temporarily. The real damage comes from not loving at all.
4. Some movies should be bought, viewed, viewed again and cherished.
Harold and Maude is one such movie.
on July 8, 2012
Harold and Maude is one of my favorite movies. I was really excited to own it on bluray. I didn't mind paying $40.00 for it, I figured there must be some really interesting extras or a booklet of something that would justify the price. A couple of interviews and some songs is all I got. Defiantly not worth the price tag. However the movie is fantastic.
on December 27, 1998
I have been raving about this movie for about 15 years now. To see it once is to see it dozens of times. I can recite it and still get something out of it every time. It is by far, my favorite movie of all time. Whenever you lack lust for life, see Maude in action. "I feel that much of the world's sorrow comes from people who are this.... allow themselves to be treated as that." Maude
I think we all have a bit of Harold in us that is waiting for a Maude.
May you find it.
on February 15, 2000
I'm sorry that I have to go against the grain here; I love aternative movies like the best of them, but this was just too weird. Life-affirming, I suppose, but it gave me a sick feeling. Faking the morose deaths, attending funerals for people he doesn't know, and the teenage boy being with a 79 year old woman (it's been awhile, I'm not sure if she's 69 or 79) is just too much. The PG rating should be stronger. I felt a weird sensation in the pit of my stomach after watching this movie. But, if you're going for ultra-weird and kinky, you would be well-served to watch this movie; it does have its merits.
on May 28, 2002
I'm puzzled as to why some people have adopted this movie as a life manifesto as it is rather a nasty piece of work. Counter culture perniciousness is never far from the surface and the death stuff is pure 'Addams Family' corn, although undeniably amusing on that level.
Someone here mentioned the curious adoption of an 'Ubermensch' philosophy by Maude reminiscent of her war time captors and I don't know whether or not it was intended ironically. Before the fall she was obviously part of the same bourgeoise. Mind you, Hitler was a bit of a pleb and skint, too. Anyway, does 'aiming above morality' mean lack of responsibility to those closest to you? Despite surely being aware of Harold's emotional vulnerability, Maude does not make her 'saturday' intentions clear to him, other than as a vague reference in passing. The expression on Ruth Gordon's face as an actress while dropping this bombshell to Harold suggests she did not truly believe in this scene or the film as a whole, which uses the smokescreen of eccentricity to excuse Maude's lack of clarity. But since she is clearly articulate on most matters, there is an ambivalence at the heart of this picture. She appears to cruelly lead him on, only to crush him with a bromide. What are we to make of all of this? Even an offbeat film needs to maintain a certain internal logic. Likewise, stealing cars that may have been needed in a life and death emergency leaves a nasty taste. If there is an epiphany here, then I cannot see it.
This lack of internal logic extends to the direction, too. Ashby has great quirky timing but there is also a curious dishonesty at work. On the first date, how could Harold have got out from under those sheets and replaced them with a dummy without the girl in the house noticing? It would have taken exceptional sleight of hand and the director doesn't convince us. Likewise the business with Harold's hand on the second date. He clearly uses his real hands for the mouth freshner but are we then expected to believe he could have somehow slipped a false hand on to his sleave (miraculously lengthened) in front of his guest? This sloppy attitude can be seen in the opening scene. The shot behind Harold's head shows the rope not touching his body. From the other side we clearly see the rope going into his shoulder to support his weight. Also, in a later scene, the motorcycle cop aiming to shoot the fleeing protaganists with a civilian clearly walking into view. Should any of this matter in what is basically a comedy of (bad) manners? I think the film wants it both ways, that is seriousness and silliness, but it doesn't think it has to try too hard. However, if you sacrifice credibility in a style of dead pan realism you will not get away with it. Perhaps someone should have reminded Mr Ashby that comedy is, in fact, a serious business.
The main compensations in 'Harold and Maude' are the little details. The motorcycle cop's trouser problem. The way various vehicles splutter into life and barely get going suggesting the vulnerability of us all in a changing world. Harold's legs in the opening scene and his petulant reaction to furniture obstructing his way. The peculiar pause when Maude asks Harold whether it's wrong to pose nude.
As a whole though, it is distinctly uneven. The 'took my head' scene does not work but the actress scene is absolutely inspired.
This is the archetypal cult movie and beggers the question as to whether films can ever be 'cult' like this again, what with the closure of 'rep' cinemas which traditionally supported these pictures and the ready avaliability of home video. Will the definition of 'cult' simply mean failure at the box office?
The picture quality is reasonable. The chief advantage is the sound which is hugely superior to my video copy.
on July 10, 2002
Harold and Maude is a very moral story. The audience is asked to analyze what is important to them, and to ignore restrictions that were made by irrelevant powers. It supports the idea of an inner law. People determine the rules for themselves, not a society. It is not a story about death, but truly about living. Harold and Maude's fascination with death is not reminscent of the Addams Family, at all. Maude has a fascination with death because she loves every part of life and the cycle. Harold is interested more because he is still trying to find who he is, and what is important to him. Noone should waste their lives, and Ashby does a wonderful job of showing that. We all need to appreciate what we have, while we fight for what we think is right. We should also always act in a way that we believe is moral, this is different for everyone. This film helps viewers analyze what they should be focusing on in their own lives. It also helps to shatter notions of how things should be. Harold and Maude is a fantastic film that is funny, touching, intelligent, and has a lot to say. This is a movie everyone should see.