Thursday, February 26, 2009

Harold and Maude

Before watching this movie I had only heard a short summary about young Harold who is rich and obsessed with death being forever changed after meeting an older woman at a funeral. Now I knew that this was a comedy and from what I have seen a comedy involving a funeral can either be really good or really bad. In this case it was great. The movie was perfect chaos, not that it wasn’t well planned it was but with some many vastly different characters, places, and incidents if one thing didn’t fit or wasn’t performed just right the movie would have fallen apart. When dealing with as many diverse topics and going beyond ridiculousness this movie manages to bring it all home with an uplifting message.

I admit when Maude was first introduced I had a short moment of apprehension at the more than significant age difference between the two characters. I knew going into it that there was a substantial age gap but I wasn’t quite prepared for Harold to be 19 and Maude to be turning 80. I was told this movie was one of those that either someone loves it or hates it. After watching it I can understand that because not everyone appreciates that kind of random and morbid humor, especially not to the frequency and extent it occurs.

Trying to pinpoint the exact message or moral is hard because there are surprisingly so many. Whether it is not to take yourself so seriously all the time, live life to the fullest, get over your problems because there is always someone out there worse off than you, or even the most basic one of simply be yourself. At the end I wasn’t sure if Harold was in the car when it went over the cliff or not. I had heard that some found the movie depressing and others inspiring. With both of those reactions there was no telling what was going to happen because he could have killed himself and it could have ended there on a very depressing note, but because the general message of the film was still there some could still find it inspiring. I am glad it ended the way it did because it perfectly hit home the moral with Harold playing that Cat Stevens’ song on the Banjo and dancing alone on this hill/cliff unembarrassed and seemingly happy.

I think even though it is not explicitly stated Harold does understand in the end why Maude did it. It seems to me to be the reason he didn’t go over the edge with his car. The only intermittent scene between him finding out Maude is dead and the car going over the cliff is him driving around. The way I see it driving around upset and angry Harold ultimately understands that things are better this way and he needs to take what he has learned and experience, move on, be happy, and especially live life. That last one is the most important because even though it seemed like Harold was living life I think he was more living vicariously through her. Ever since he “died” the first time Harold seemed to be afraid to live. Even with Maude he still needed her to live like her. It wasn’t until Maude killed herself and made him be alone that Harold was able to get over his fear and actually live life.

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