[box cover]

Harold and Maude

Harold (Bud Cort, in his career-defining role) is 20, passive and withdrawn, and obsessed with death. He frequents funerals as a pastime and stages fake suicides in an attempt to make an impression on his bullying, emotionally distant mother (Vivian Pickles). At a memorial service he meets Maude (Ruth Gordon), who is approaching her 80th birthday. Maude lives each moment fully, spurning convention and authority with exuberant joy, gradually drawing Harold out of his shell and encouraging him to embrace life. All the while, Harold's mother continues to set him up with a series of computer dates and weathers Harold's elaborately staged, retaliatory fake suicides. The two mismatched friends fall in love, and then Maude teaches Harold one final lesson about the circle of life. Deserving of more than its reputation as a quirky little arthouse oddity, almost any frame of Harold and Maude could be taken alone as a piece of art — and certain scenes are breathtaking examples of what a director can do on film. Director Hal Ashby subtly drives home the theme of life vs. death by showing Maude bopping along ahead of a crowd of black-clad mourners, carrying a bright yellow umbrella, or having the couple picnic amongst the wreckage at an auto yard. Sometimes the symbolism is a tad heavy-handed — as in a scene featuring a field of white daisies which shifts to hills covered with identical white tombstones — but each image conveys the story's ideas so much more effectively than another hundred pages of dialogue could ever do. A movie about freedom, the human spirit, and love without boundaries, Harold and Maude offers subversive messages such as "Vice, virtue, it's best not to be too moral — you cheat yourself out of too much life. Aim above morality" and "Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You can't let the world judge you too much." Worth viewing again and again. Acceptable anamorphic transfer (1.85:1), Dolby Digtial 5.1 or the original mono (Dolby 2.0). Two trailers. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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