Young adult Harold Chasen, solitary and friendless by choice, is obsessed with death, this fascination manifesting itself in he staging his own fake suicides, driving a hearse and attending funerals, even of people he doesn't know, all to the chagrin of his exasperated wealthy mother with who he lives. Mrs. Chasen is determined for Harold to be "normal", including she sending him into therapy to deal with his issues and finding him a girlfriend through a computer dating service. It is at a series of funerals that Harold meets Maude, on the cusp of her eightieth birthday, she who too attends funerals of strangers. Unlike Harold, Maude is obsessed with life - her own life to be more precise - she doing whatever she wants to please herself, damned what others may think or how they may be affected. Since she can't take material possessions with her, she is more interested in experiences, with whatever material possessions she has - often "borrowed" without asking - only to further those ... Written by
Cat Stevens appears in a brief, uncredited role during Ruth Gordon's second appearance in the film. He is the bearded gentleman wearing a hat at and a full coat at a graveside service. His profile can be seen a few times as he looks at displeasure at Ruth Gordon trying to grab Burt Cort's attention during the service. See more »
When Maude pulls the banjo out of a cabinet, you see the reflection of crew and lights. See more »
[after spotting Harold hanging from a noose in the living room]
I suppose you think that's very funny, Harold... Oh, dinner at eight, Harold. And do try and be a little more vivacious.
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I first came to Harold and Maude from a suggestion from an eccentric friend who I thought I would humor by tracking down a 34-year-old movie. What I found, however, was one of the most amazing yet understated movies about the joys of life that I have ever seen. There are many subtle lines that take an extra amount of time and thought with a little self-reflection that can shake the very belief system of the viewer. For example,
"Zoos are full, prisons are overflowing... oh my, how the world still dearly loves a cage."
"Maude: I should like to change into a sunflower most of all. They're so tall and simple. What flower would you like to be?
Harold: I don't know. One of these, maybe.
Maude: Why do you say that?
Harold: Because they're all alike.
Maude: Oooh, but they're not. Look. See, some are smaller, some are fatter, some grow to the left, some to the right, some even have lost some petals; all kinds of observable differences. You see, Harold, I feel that much of the world's sorrow comes from people who are this, (pointing to an individual daisy) yet allow themselves be treated as that (pointing to an entire field of seemingly identical daisies)"
Harold and Maude is about a young person who is full of life and obsessed with death, and an elderly person who is nearing death but is obsessed with life. What is revealed with this strange juxtaposition is that we can only learn to live life to its fullest by following the lessons of the dying. The message that I have taken from Harold and Maude is to live like you were dying!
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