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    Harold and Maude – Film Analysis Essay

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    Harold and Maude is a romantic black comedy and it incorporates the elements of dark humor and existentialist drama. The movie interprets the romantic relationship between a young man called Harold with a 79 year-old woman called Maude. They share the same hobbies of attending different funerals of strangers. They eventually build up relationship with each other and find out their own feeling and meaning of life.

    The plot of the movie is attractive to lots of people since the setting of the relationship between the two main characters in the movie is with a large age gap which is unaccepted by the general. However what fascinated me the most is that the movie interprets how a person can find the meaning of life of oneself from another person they meet in occasion. There are quite a few scenes of Harold displaying fake suicide in the movie, while such behavior is related to the numb emotion, domineering mother and low self-esteem of Harold. To commence, Harold in the movie is emotionally numb, which means that he is unable to think, feel and react in a normal way.

    From his mother’s point of view, she thinks that Harold inherit his father’s strange sense of values, that penchant for the absurd. His father is arrested for floating nude down the Seine, experimenting in river currents with a pair of yellow rubber water wings in Paris once. (Higgins, P. 1) He is fascinated by the world of death and decay that leads him to demonstrate fake suicide. In the beginning, Harold is found with his throat slashed, and blood dripping from his neck and wrists in the bathtub.

    After this incident, he needs to see the psychiatrist for guidance. Besides, Harold also preoccupies himself with fake suicide because of his domineering mother. His mother is a wealthy yet snooty and controlling person. In the movie, his mother always ignores Harold so that he creates fake suicide in order to get the attention from his mom. For example, he writes the word “farewell” with blood on the mirror and leaves suicide note, yet his mom doesn’t even see them.

    (Higgins, P. 4) Later, he also shoots himself at home when his mom is doing questionnaire for the dating service. However his mom doesn’t even look to make sure if he was fine and Harold fails to get the attention from his mother. He also hangs himself when his mother is talking on phone, yet his mother replies with “I suppose you think that is very funny, Harold.

    ” All of the above examples show the ignorance of his mother towards Harold. According to the psychiatrist, he pretends suicide at least for 15 times. (Higgins, P. 3) This actually reveals that he lacks the feeling of self-worth in front of his mother. When he carries out fake suicide, he attempts to gain attention from his mother. He is likely to consider himself more valuable if he can get the attention from his mother, yet he fails after the one-time success in the beginning.

    Apart from finding himself with no value in his family, he also finds himself no value at all in the society. He thinks that he is not important in the society and he lives without a meaning. Since he has little lust and desire for life, he fakes suicide so as to recognize own individuality and find self-esteem. There are actually quite a lot of times that he self-suicide because of such thinking. Apart from trying to create fake suicide, he also attends funerals of strangers to try and find out the meaning of living.

    In conclusion, if a school were a miniature of the society, a person would also consider how to be treated and look at from the rest of the society by how they are treated in a family. As Harold cannot find his position and status in his family, he also cannot find it in the society. He wants to gain attention from people around him all the time to recognize his own identity and individuality. In fact, to solve such problem of Harold, it is not only about to find a psychiatrist or to find a person who understands, for instance Harold find Maude in the movie which he thinks that Maude shares the same thinking with him. To truly and completely settle Harold’s situation, is that the way of treating and interacting with Harold by his mom should be changed.

    His mom should show more care and love to him so as to solve the deep root of the problem.


    “Harold and Maude” Wikipedia. Web. 26 Dec 2014. Higgins, Colin. “Harold and Maude”.

    Web. 26 Dec 2014. Write Brothers. “Harold and Maude” Dramatica. Web.

    26 Dec 2014. Harold and Maude. Hal Ashby. Bud Cort. Ruth Gordon.

    Paramount Pictures, 1971.

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