By Brad Crofford, Editor-in-Chief
Yes, she is almost 80 years old. Yes, he does appear to be in his late teens or early twenties. And yes, Harold and Maude is one of my favorite films.
Released in 1971, this cult favorite tells the story of two vastly different people who come to care about each other very much. Harold is a privileged young man who is obsessed with death. Maude is a 79-year-old woman who is in love with life. When they meet at a funeral, little does Harold know how radically his life is about to change.
I will leave it at this somewhat enigmatic summary of the plot in order to allow you to discover the film’s delightful little surprises for yourself.
Harold and Maude is one of those movies that you either love or hate. Personally, I love its dark, quirky, unusual humor. I love the contrasting perspectives about life that Harold and Maude represent. It is a successful combination of absurd situations and thoughtful reflections.
The soundtrack is one of the best parts of the film. It features Cat Stevens’ music, lending a nostalgic feel to the movie and one that is refreshingly different from those of modern films. Both the beginning and ending scenes make brilliant usage of his music, but in very different ways.
While the opening scene uses a long, mysterious, somewhat claustrophobic tracking shot, the ending scene combines several scenes in one of the most emotional montages I have ever seen. (It’s up there with the beginning of the new Star Trek.)
However, many people cannot get over the age difference between Harold and Maude. I challenge you to suspend your judgment and look to the deeper meaning of the film. If you do that, I feel confident you will feed inspired rather than disgusted.
The American Film Institute has created lists of the top 100 movies from the past 100 years in various categories. Harold and Maude ranked #45 for “100 Years…100 Laughs,” #69 for “100 Years…100 Passions” and #89 for “100 Years…100 Cheers.”
It has a rating of 8.0/10 on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and an 86% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It is available for free to both Netflix and Amazon Prime subscribers.
Do yourself a favor: watch, laugh with, and be inspired by Harold and Maude.