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Blind Spot: Harold and Maude

From the opening scene narrative, you already know that an eccentric and delightful film is about to unfold. The song Harold chooses to play as a young man methodically performs what is one of his planned suicide act, it sets the tone to what would be quite an iconic film. This film, aptly titled Harold and Maude, narrates the adventures of two eccentric people – Harold, a young boy with a fascination for death and funerals, along with Maude, an old woman who shares his passion but has a zest outlook in life.

Watching Harold and Maude’s interactions, it’s evident that they make a great pair. Despite having opposite personalities, a fascination has led the two to become great companions, as they spend days together getting to know each other, as well as getting into much needed trouble. Despite the blatant age gap, it doesn’t play a part to their relationship. They treat each other as equals, as it should be. I think the romantic aspect of the relationship was handled nicely. It established what they both needed in their lives, and it accomplished just that, even if the results yielded were different for both characters. 

Beyond that, I think the film diverts to a character study about them, but leaning heavily towards Harold. I think at some point, Maude became a device for Harold to crawl out of his shell and live a little. Her outlook in life, and the teachings she subtly drops to Harold allowed him to be himself around her. He led quite a different life outside of his interactions with Maude. Outside of their relationship, he was performing an act. I found it a bit difficult to box in Harold’s personality because I don’t know what he wanted out of his performances. I’m not even certain if it’s to get his mother’s attention, or to stop her from meddling in his life so much. Maude teaches him to live vicariously, to not just be and actually be something, to venture outside his zone. 

Maude seems like an open book but mysterious at the same time. However, revisiting the film again, there is heavy foreshadowing of events that will surprise, and in the end, it doesn’t surprise you. It’s in Maude’s plan; everything she is doing is according to her rules. She doesn’t let authority, or anything natural make decisions for her. She lived vicariously. She looked at funerals in a different light, just as she looked at everything around her differently. 

Ruth Gordon was amazing in this. She was charming and very eccentric in a delightful way. Bud Cort was also creepy in a way that his character was a misanthrope that looked for a companion. His character’s aloofness complimented the vivacity of Gordon’s character. Another favorite character of mine is Mrs. Chasen, played by Vivian Pickles. Harold performs his suicide attempts mostly in the vicinity of his mother, so at some point I thought her frustrations with him was entertainment for him. In any case, Vivian Pickles was an entertaining character on her own. 

The cinematography and soundtrack of the film helped make the film appealing, as well as the writing of the characters. This was an entertaining and wonderful film that stood the test of time. A must-watch for avid film fans out there.



Cast: Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort, Vivian Pickles
Director: Hal Ashby
Year: 1971

Comments

  1. Glad you enjoyed this. It's an amazing film with an even better performance by Gordon. She is so full of life it's impossible not to love her.

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  2. I love odd romances like this. Harold and Maude is one of the gems of the 1970s. I definitely need to watch it again.

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    Replies
    1. Now I see why people like this film so much, I'm glad I finally got to watch it.

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  3. I love this one, but it is an odd duck. It's amazing that it pulls it off.

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  4. I've always heard such good things about this movie, look forward to discovering it myself! Great review.

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