HAROLD AND MAUDE (1971) 46 years later


I first showed the film (on VHS?) to a group of my friends around 1999 on the recommendation of one of the women. She mentioned that she saw it with her sons and they found it hilarious. My reaction at the time was rather negative and although I liked the black humour scenes I did not relish the sequences involving car/police chases and I found Ruth Gordon’s mannered acting irritating. Around 2010 with a new membership of the film group and the release of a dvd I saw it again. This time I took more notice of its social satire and inventive cinematography (more of this in the next post)
This year there were 10 of us.
– I felt from the beginning that it would not have a happy ending so could not laugh.
– Black comedy which shocked, anarchy without responsibility but its message of find your own way to expressing yourself has much to be said in its favour in a society (U.S.) which in the 70s demanded conformity. I really laughed hard at many of the incidents, found the attachment to each other tender, poignant and in the end doomed to disappointment so she took the brave way out. I noted she was concentration camp survivor so had determined to live different kind of life. At times a fantasy, At the end I did not expect him to kill himself so I was not surprised he survived – that honoured what she taught him -LIVE. I really enjoyed it all even when I was shocked by the first “hanging”.
– Very funny and iconoclastic . Redolent of the youth culture of the period. Great film.
– While I ‘got’ what the film was about I did not find it particularly funny.
– Wonderful performance by Bud and Ruth with her anarchic spirit overcoming his nihilistic tendencies. Great antidote to militarism and nationalism – a positive ending, choosing when to go.
– I found the film uplifting and life affirming (although not funny, in the way others in the group did!). I first saw it when I was aged about 16, the age Harold is meant to be, and that was 45 years ago, so I’m now closer to Maude’s age. So my thoughts about how old Maude is, feel different now. But a message of ‘seize the day’ or ‘if you want to sing out sing out’ is relevant at any age.
– A fairy tale – and the reason why I did not mind her unstoppable ‘life-fulness’. I didn’t realise in my first viewing that she was a holocaust survivor. Very funny – laugh out loud film. The mother was amazing. Liked it more this time.
– Dark humour – hilarious. We fell in love with her too. So an impossible love is entirely possible. Of its time . Life affirming
– The film brought up a lot of feelings for me especially Maude’s background.

About rinaross

Born in 1935. MA in Film and Television Studies at the University of Westminster 1998. Studying the representation of older women in film since then.
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