Movie Review: Harold and Maude
Harold and Maude is a love story between nineteen-year-old Harold and seventy nine year old Maude. Harold, completely fixated on death, spends his time going to funerals, acting out fake suicides and going to the junkyard. Maude is a free spirit with an undeniable zest for life who likes to surround herself with nature and art. Maude is quite talkative and outrageous where as Harold is quiet and reserved; it is indeed a case of opposites attract.
In the opening scene, the director had an interesting use of perspective and shadows, which combined to create a gloomy tone. A close up of two set of feet, Harold’s to be exact, are shown walking down a dark staircase. The camera avoids any glimpse of the his head as Harold writes walks to a desk and then writes out a nametag. The camera pans to a candelabra in the foreground and then zooms out to reveal Harold’s silhouetted face in the shadows in the background. The camera moves away from the Harold’s face and the candles and pans to his feet. For a minute or so you can’t see much of anything because of all the shadowy darkness. Then you see Harold’s feet step on a stool and quickly step off into midair. Only after zooming out do you see Harold’s entire body, hanging loosely from a noose. The director makes Harold’s face very unimportant in this scene, which reflects the neglect that Harold feels from his mother in the movie. This neglect is illustrated effectively when his mother enters the room and upon seeing her son hanging from a noose, calmly sits down and starts dialing on the telephone. This use of shadows and perspective also do well to reflect the undeniable theme of death in the movie.
In one scene in which Harold visits his psychologist, the director utilizes symmetry. Harold and his doctor sit in two identical, black, leather chairs; situated in a perfectly symmetrical situation. They both wear the same pants, tie, shoes, socks, shirt and sports jacket (at least I think they do, I watched it online and it was ridiculously pixilated). For some reason, their matching outfits combined with Harold’s cynicism and the psychologist’s overly smiley demeanor seem to illegitimate the psychologists legitimacy; as is Harold is mocking him by intentionally matching him.