Harold and Maude is a movie which incorporates so many different elements of style that it is difficult to put a simple tag on it. It‘s a black comedy featuring dark humor as well as slapstick. It‘s a drama raising existentialist questions. It‘s a heartbreaking love story with a great soundtrack by Cat Stevens. It‘s an anti-war movie and it even has some action scenes.
The movie follows Harold Chasen, a young and rich boy obsessed with death. He elaborately stages several fake suicides hereby driving his mother nearly crazy. Harold also likes going to funerals where he meets Maude, a 79 year old woman who embraces life. Harold is fascinated by the lively Maude and his controlled and morbid view of the world gets shaken. Maude slowly opens Harold to the sensual pleasures like music and art and teaches him to live for the moment. Despite Harold‘s mother attempts to marry her son to someone she considers appropriate they finally fall in love with each other and their relationship turns sexual. At Maude‘s 80th birthday she swallows some pills to commit suicide because she thinks 80 is the proper age to die. I won‘t give away the ending since I really hope you all will go and see this movie and I don‘t want to spoil it.
Harold and Maude is my favorite movie of all times since it combines fun and food for thought in a perfect way. The film features a very dark humor and has some hilarious moments, and yet the movie raises so many existentialist questions it makes you think for a long time after having watched it. Furthermore, everything is wrapped in a beautiful love story which really touches your heart. So it‘s no wonder the American Film Institute lists Harold and Maude as #45 on the top 100 films in American comedy as well as #69 of the most romantic films.
I really urge everyone to go see this film. Even if it had a strong anti vietnam war message at the time of it‘s release in 1971, the story is told in a universal and funny way which makes this movie a timeless gem and therefore a true classic.