Friday, February 27, 2009

Harold and Maude

Harold and Maude is a movie for the ages. Typically when I think of seeing old movies, I tend to immediately expect disappointment. I do not know where the bias came from, but for some reason there it is. This time, much like the other times I watch older movies, I was pleasantly surprised. Harold and Maude set out to teach the audience the things they are missing about their life. Watching this movie is meant to allow people to acknowledge everything about their lives and embrace them. Pain should be embraced, as well as pleasure. Death isn't the end, and nobody should let it be that for them.
The biggest thing that caught my eye was the different scenes with the various authority figures in his life, with pictures of THEIR authority figures behind them. The reasoning for this was as clear as day to me. This movie had a political message, there was no denying it. The fact that this movie was made in the seventies makes it even more obvious, when every time anyone did almost anything it was supposedly representing some "higher message"- which at that decade meant it was against whatever politics were going on. The crippled uncle who makes a fool out of himself every time he tries to salute and be patriotic had a picture of Nixon on the wall behind him; the creepy and overly sarcastic Priest had a picture of the Pope behind him, and Harold's overbearing psychiatrist had a picture of Freud behind him. The reason for each of these is to accomplish multiple things. First of all, it gives the impression that this boy - this young, free spirit - is stacked up vs the rest of the world. He is alone, overwhelmed, and outnumbered six to one. The other reason is because it is meant to show how different Harold is. While each of these three people are spouting the belief system of the people more powerful than they are, Harold bows down to nobody. He makes his own decision. And finally it comes down to the final thing; the depiction of how each of these men has one father figure who they embraced, and as such believe that Harold will embrace them as his missing father figure. Clearly we see that it doesn't happen, so the pictures are there to show, again, the big difference between Harold and society.
This movie was funny, deep, and quick witted. It was well done overall, and it went ahead and showed the way of life followed by many back then. Live life, don't fear death, and grow from the pain you experience.

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