Harold and Maude gets five stars from me. This movie encompasses death, love, age, synicism, suicide, fun, and appreceation for life all into one wonderful bundle. The words I just used to describe the nuances of this movie would never fit together otherwise. They just don't make movies like this anymore. Anything from the feel of old technology to produce film to the characters is so outdated yet timeless. I simply do not feel that this type of movie could be recreated successfuly. There is a genuine aura surrounding it.
I never thought I would laugh at death, yet I did numerous times throughout the movie. It is so synister and quirky - smart even. The greatest scene in the entire movie has to be when Harold pulls the Ferris Bueller face and we see his smirk which quickly turns back into a blank face when he turns towards his mother. Right there the viewer has to know that there is no outsmarting him.
All of the elements in this movie are so carefully thoughout out and so fitting for the situations. I loved the hurse that Harold drove, the train car Maude lived in, the fake arm which saluted the painting, the falling veterans...etc. With a movie like this, detail is very important, it is half the humor in the situations which Harold finds himself in.
Harold in himself portrays hope in such a hopeless world; survival in the desire for death. He is so composed and serious about his interests - funerals and mock suicides. It's almost ironic that he is so young and so dead. Maude, on the other hand, is this vivacious and vigorous figure. Again it is ironic that she is so old, yet so alive. Together this characters combine to make a whole. Maude helps Harold embrace life, and death in some ways. Together they thrive because they have a different eye for the world around them. Ususally the viewer would be disgusted at such an old woman and such a young man in a relationship, however the insparation of the film helps us ignore their age and they simply turn into timeless figures.
Maude utters the wonderful words: "how the world loves a cage". In a way Harold loves his own cage. He is so involved with his mock suicides and trying to get a reaction out of his mom that he is not living. "I am not living, but I have died a few times", he says to Maude. Yet Maude is completely free of this cage. "The earth is her body, her head is the stars". She speaks of people as her species, notices the differences in daisies, and envisions herself as a flower.
While the characters are comical in many ways, this movie does show subtle political and historical undertones. Maude has a number tattooed on her arm, indicating that she was a Jewish Concentration Camp Prisoner. The impact of this is much greater than just the flash of her numer on her arm, which is left without mention. (Another clever and subtle technique, I thought) While she is this fun, free, and loving spirit she has endured great pain in the past. This shows us that the best of us percerviers and conquers our obstacles. She is the ray of hope in this movie both for viewers and Harold.
"If you want to sing out, sing out; If you want to be free be free; There's a million things that you can be; You know that there are. If you want to live high, live high;...There's a million ways to go; You know that there are". Maude helped Harold choose the better path. Through all the pain of losing true love and preying on death we, the viewers, are instilled with hope.