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"A lot of people enjoy being dead. But they are not dead, really. They're just backing away from life. Reach out. Take a chance. Get hurt even. But play as well as you can. Go team, go! Give me an L. Give me an I. Give me a V. Give me an E. L-I-V-E. LIVE! Otherwise, you got nothing to talk about in the locker room.—Maude
Harold and Maude is a 1971 film by Hal Ashby which follows the exploits of Harold, a teenager whose primary interests include attending random funerals, driving around in a hearse and staging gory and over-the-top suicides for his domineering mother. He meets a sparky 79 year-old woman named Maude who shares his interest in attending funerals, and though apparently his diametric opposite, finds a kindred spirit in her.
The film is now predominantly remembered for its May-December Romance as well as a memorable soundtrack by Cat Stevens, who worked closely with director Ashby. However, it has gone on to secure itself a place as a classic Romantic Comedy, and has gone on to influence people such as Wes Anderson, the Farrelly Brothers and other purveyors of cinematic quirk.
Not to be confused with just Maude.
This Film Contains Examples of:
- Big "What?": Harold's reaction to Maude's euthanasia.
- Bittersweet Ending: Maude dies, and Harold learns a lesson about living.
- Black Comedy: The biggest laughs come from a series of staged suicides.
- Bungled Suicide: Inverted: Harold's staged suicide attempts throughout the film are very well executed.
- Chase Scene: Maude and the motorcycle cop.
- Comically Missing the Point: Sunshine's reaction to Harold's hara kiri performance.
- Cool Car: Harold's hearse. Both the Superior-bodied '59 Cadillac and the home-converted Jaguar E-Type.
- Cool Loser: Harold.
- Cool Old Lady: Good old car-stealing, hookah-smoking, murder-staging Maude.
- Creator Cameo: The conspicuous, lanky bearded man at the amusement park is none other than Hal Ashby.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: At one point, Maude essentially hands Harold a giant wood carving of her vagina and tells him to feel around. (Harold tries sticking his head through it.)
- Driven to Suicide: Subverted again and again and again and again... and again.
- Drives Like Crazy: Maude could show the ol' Duke boys a thing or two about reckless driving.
- Drop What You Are Doing: Harold's mom, after discovering that he he has ruined his third and final date.
- Emo Teen: Harold.
- Flipping the Bird: Harold does this at one point behind his mother's back, both figuratively when he reassembles the Jaguar she replaces his hearse with into another hearse, then literally immediately after showing her.
- Freaky Is Cool: When Harold Met Maude.
- Harakiri: "Do you... enjoy knives?"
- Loners Are Freaks: Harold likes staging his own suicides. That doesn't necessarily make him a freak, though.
- Manic Pixie Dream Woman: Maude, right down to the casual attitude towards theft. Age shall not wither her nor custom stale her infinite variety.
- May-December Romance: The big one, and an extremely rare gender-flipped variant.
- My Beloved Smother: To his credit, Harold fights his mother every step of the way.
- Mysterious Past: Maude. It's implied that she's a holocaust survivor from Austria, but other than that details are scant.
- Name and Name
- Nightmare Fetishist: Harold is on the milder end of the "fetishism" scale, and somewhere in the middle with the nightmares.
- Obfuscating Insanity: Maude uses this as her first defense against the police.
- Opposites Attract: He's a death-obsessed loner Emo Teen from a smothering, meaningless upper-class existence. She's a life-obsessed octogenarian from World War II-era Austria. They
- Pop Star Composer: Cat Stevens.
- The Reveal: Maude telling Harold that she'll be dead by midnight.
- Romantic Comedy
- Skeleton Key: Maude carries one that she uses to drive off in whatever vehicle she chooses. (At one point they ride off on a cop's motorcycle.)
- Something Else Also Rises: Harold and Maude at the carnival -> fireworks -> Harold and Maude in bed the next morning.
- Springtime for Hitler: Harold continues doing his wacky suicide attempts every time his mother sets him up on a blind date in order to drive them off. This doesn't work at all with Sunshine the actress, who not only admires his performance, she joins in and starts doing Romeo and Juliet.
- Sunny Sunflower Disposition: Maude.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened with Sunshine? She and Harold had a lot in common, maybe they hit it off?