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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: April 3: Harold and Maude


April 3: Harold and Maude

"Young, rich, and obsessed with death, Harold finds himself changed forever when he meets lively septuagenarian Maude at a funeral."

   Harold and Maude is an amazingly weird film from 1971, about a rather interesting relationship between a twenty something boy and an 80 year old woman. Bud Court plays Harold, a rich kid whose boredom and rather dull life lead to an obsession with faking suicides. He fakes hanging himself, slitting his wrists, and even harakiri with a samurai sword. Harold meets Maude, played by Ruth Gordon, at the countless funerals he attends simply for the sake of surrounding himself with death. The two grow closer through all sorts of adventures, from stealing trees only to replant them somewhere else, as well as stealing cars and cop motorcycles. Maude shows Harold that you can still live life to the fullest, even at her age. Through Maude's own immaturity and seemingly lack of responsibility, Harold realizes he has a lot of growing up to do. Throughout the course of the film, Harold's mother continually attempts to set him up with multiple women, each failing to spark a relationship because of his morbid stunts and his growing affection, and love, for Maude. 

She ain't nothin' but a gold digger. She ain't messing with no broke... except, well, she genuinely loves him too

   The entire film is bizarre. It crosses several lines into so many territories that you don't see very often, but it doesn't make you feel uncomfortable. You really can tell that there is a connection between the two title characters and you clearly see how well they do together. As Maude states in the film, "with my experience and your skill, we can do anything". The film is a terribly dark comedy, and a lot of what you're laughing at you question if you should even find musing. It's shocking to think that something like this could have been made in 1971, let alone today. But, when you watch the film, you realize it has got a hell of a lot more heart than it does weird, and you really can't help but love it. 

Plus it's a million times better than any romantic comedy that shits out of Hollywood today. 

   Harold and Maude is a masterpiece of uniqueness, and it's quirky romance and dark humor make you feel every emotion under the sun. It's depressing, hilarious, disturbing and irreverent, but it all works. It's a film terribly ahead of it's time and not necessarily for everyone. I do, however, highly recommend it. Bud Court is amazing as Harold, and I don't know of many actors that could pull off such a specifically unique role. Ruth Gordon is lovable and hysterical as Maude, and they have quite the chemistry. With an incredible soundtrack by Cat Stevens and beautiful directing from Hal Ashby, Harold and Maude is a must see. 

The Good:
it's a film you can't pinpoint as any specific genre- it's comedy, tragedy, romance, and even horror
The Better:
two outstanding performances by the two actors in the title roles
The Best:
Cat Stevens' songs on the soundtrack- happy and upbeat, completely contrast one of the film's biggest themes... death

Overall: 9.0/10

Best Quote:
Maude: A lot of people enjoy being dead. But they are not dead, really. They're just backing away from life. *Reach* out. Take a *chance*. Get *hurt* even. But play as well as you can. Go team, go! Give me an L. Give me an I. Give me a V. Give me an E. L-I-V-E. LIVE! Otherwise, you got nothing to talk about in the locker room.  


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