Monday, April 04, 2011

Harold And Maude---an old friend

Do you ever wonder why a particular film touches you? The film may not even be very good, and it may only be one scene, but it reaches you at a deep level, provoking all manner of emotional and intellectual response. And what happens when you try and share the experience with someone else?  Yes, they often patiently slip side-glances at you, trying to smile encouragingly at your enthusiasm. And even worse, what happens when you watch that film a second time and feel nothing???

The litmus test, of course, is being able to watch a motion picture over and over again, finding new levels of appreciation. Sure, the original blast lessens with time and exposure, but the film becomes an old friend, someone with whom you enjoy sharing time together, and whom offers you new things to discover. Casablanca is one of my closest friends, so is Harvey, starring Jimmy Stewart. And who can forget The Big Lebowsky? I wonder what these titles reveal about me?

And then, there's Harold and Maude. Some of you born after 1970 are saying, "Never heard of it." Don't feel bad. It was a flop at the theaters, although the American Film Institute has it listed as one of its one hundred funniest films. I suppose a motion picture about a twenty year old who keeps playing at killing himself striking a romantic relationship with a seventy-nine-year old woman isn't exactly the sort of topic matter which immediately strikes folk as a typical date flick.

I'm not sure why I identify with the story so strongly. Perhaps it's the theme--- it's about outsiders finding one another and learning to appreciate life in what has become for each, a lonely and sterile existence. They're odd ducks, funny and snarky, and the film is blackest comedy. That being said, it is also filled with comforting optimism and it reminds me of the importance of living in the present and trying to appreciate the people around you.

6 comments:

Kathy G said...

I haven't seen "Harold and Maude" in quite a few years. Thanks for the reminder...I'm going to see if it's on Netflix.

Joe Ponepinto said...

One of my all-time favs too, from Bud Cort's self-immolation scene to the Cat Stevens soundtrack, "Harold and Maude" was an emblem of an entire outsider generation. Thanks for bringing this up.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Kathy, I haven't seen it in a few years myself. I think I'll watch it this afternoon.

Joe, you're welcome..and doesn't each generation coming up consider itself the outsider generation?

Charles Gramlich said...

Heard of it. Never seen it.

Christine Purcell said...

I love this movie. I must have seen it at least 10 times. I actually used it as part of a course I taught on adolescent psychology. It's great. Not just because of the hilarious faked suicides at the beginning, but because it's about how to live, how to be comfortable in one's own skin, how to be free.

If you want to be you, be you...

SQT said...

This was one of my brother's favorite movies, so it seemed like it was always on in our house. So I have a lot of fond memories of this. My husband finally watched it, but I don't think he really got it.