Harold and Maude 

Subject: Art
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1452
Topics: Film Review, Film Analysis, Human Nature

The Movie Harold and Maude is one of kind since it does not promote and adhere to the contemporary portrayal of common themes. Instead, it goes beyond the normal world to bring a bout a different relationship between a  teenager, Harold at the age of 17 and Maude, surprisingly at the age of 79, about 80 years old (Hassah, 2016). However, through this movie, Ashby tends to portray a different angle of death and how people should perceive dying as an inevitable occurrence. Instead of being sumbmerged with the thoughts of dying, people should live their lives to the fullest. On the other had, Maude brings about the life in Herald and from their encounter, the audience relates with the concept of boundariless life but also gets the concept of appreciating and enjoyment of life irrespective of age. 

The interpretation that the director has on death portrays how people perceive death as an event that scares people and prohibits them from fully living their lives. The movie begins with a morose young Harold, engulfed with the thoughts of suicide. The use of proper acting and character development as a movie technique ensures that the director successfully understand death as a grave concern (Rabiger, 2013). Especially, he uses the mororse Harold, the signs of funerals, and hearse. In particular, an the exciting scene in the film is when he is driving a modified hearse. On the other hand, the young Harold is seen to quietly crash on funerals while the mother watches the son struggles without a particular concern, disinterested and distasteful of his behavior. In comparison, viewers are treated to a cheerful and a care-free Maude, 79 years old lady who contrasts a younger Harold who wants to take away his life. In this sense, the director interprets death as an inevitable, but it depends on how one takes or perceives being dead. For instance, Harold fascinated with death at a tender age, with death becoming his life, concocting elaborated suicides to get the attention of the mother. When Maude elopes with him, she begins offering advice on the need and essence of living life to the fullest and loving more, a newer perspective of death is developed in the story. As young Harold becomes lively again, the audience gets the idea that whatever the case, people should cheer up, the moments of life and cherish everyone, love since death is coming anytime soon. Contrast with the old lady on how at her tender age she still enjoys life as a teen also shows that death is unpredictable; some may die young, but others live to see the old times. In all cases, there is no need to get scared of death and be preoccupied with such thoughts.

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As Maude commits suicide at the end of the movie, and Harold getting remorseful and wanting to follow suit, Ashby portrays how death should come at the expected time. Maude commits suicide because she has gotten self-fulfilled with life and believes that there is nothing much to accomplish. In this scene, the director uses freeze-frame, repeated printing of a movie frame such that the action freezes in the frame (Gehring, 2012). The technique is shown when Harold drives off the sports car, but Ashby takes to freeze-frame the vehicle amidst air and this offers the audience to ponder whether Harold is being serious with suicide this time (Hassah, 2016). The end of the effects shows Harold deciding to live. In this sense, the intepretation that death should come when one has accomplished everything in life lingers in the minds of the audience.

The interpretation of death is also evident from the manner in which Maude brings life out of Harold, but it is a surprise that they are meeting at a funeral for the first time. From this, the director implies that death should not scare people from living and if so, should be the beginning of life in people (Gehring, 2012). After meeting at a funeral, when Harold is still filled with the thoughts of suicide and death, it is quite intriguing that the director uses this chance to introduce Harold to the person who will mould him out of his dark life of wanting to die and making to appreciate life and love even more and more. The director interprets death not as the end of everything but as a reminder that people should live to the fullest, exploit their potentials and not engulfed with the thought of dieing that can bring about psychological torture and prevent one from living it to the fullest. 

Anyone watching the film would get fascinated by the quite weird relationship between Maude and Harold.  In the beginning, the first impression that comes to mind of the relationship is simply put as disgusting. However, deeper into the movie, the relationship, although a romantic one has more meaning in the life of Harold and as such, showing how life transcends different boundaries. Maude is old enough to be Harold’s mother, in contrast, he does not get the fulfilment in life as he gets from the relationship and engagement with Maude. Harold’s mother is such a difficult type, putting to stress despite providing everything that Harold would ever want in life. She is hard on Harold by despite this, the teenager gets everything that life can ever offer from a mother or a parent.  All does not seem to cheer up Harold’s life. One would assume that at a younger age and with everything in life, a teenager like him would want no more in life than sitting around and enjoying everything.  The relationship with Maude, although romantic, is included in the movie to contrast the life that Harold gets from the mother and happiness and fulfilment he gets from the old romantic mate.   In contemporary analysis, the use of the aging female body is used in film to contrast how best it come mould the life out the male character (Faircloth, 2003).  

As it turns out in the movie, the relationship with Maude is meant to reignite his life. An excellent example is shown in the movie when he meets Maude with an unhappy face and toned skin. Falling in love with Maude reignites the life in Harold. In this sense, the relationship shows that all the wealth, the glamour and mansion are meaningless in life and as such, life and the essence of living rules in every aspect of living.  The lack of a figure to show Harold the essence and the meaning of life is the role of the relationship he has with Maude. On the other hand, it can be argued that at such a tender age, all that Herald ever wanted in life was a motherly figure. Despite noticing the care and a maternal figure from Maude, all ends up in a romantic way. However, the relationship is maybe notifying the audience about the necessity of living life to the fullest. In essence, Maude is old and lives a carefree life and is not bothered about stealing cars and causing trouble in the neighborhood. At her age, falling into a romantic relationship with a teenager is a show of how people should live their lives to the fullest no matter the age. It also shows how the aging female tries to reignite herself and prove herself as attractive and able to ge along with life (Faircloth, C2003). Harold falling in love with an elderly woman tends to portray that in life, no one has it in abundance and as such, all should be enjoyed at whatever age. Instead of waiting for a proper age, he elopes with Maude, and this also integrates both the young and old life and how both are connected. 

In restrospect, Ashby provides a different perspective and angle of death. By showing the relationship between Harold and Maude, he suggests that although death is inevitable, there is no point being preoccupied witht the thought of dying. Life has a lot to offer and people should live to their fullest and exploit their potential. Death should also not scare people. The romance between Maude and Harold serves to show how affection and care transcends boundaries and that people should show their tenderness and love irrespective of age. On the other hand, it shows what Harold misses in life; a person who can advise him and bring out the best him. 

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  1. Faircloth, C. A. (2003). Aging Bodies: Images and Everyday Experience. Lanham: Rowman Altamira. 
  2. Gehring, W. D. (2012). A Moment Frozen in Time. USA Today Magazine, 141(2806), 61.
  3. Hassah, (2016). Harold and Maude (1971) Full Movie. 
  4. Rabiger, M. (2013). Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics. London: Taylor & Francis. 
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