My Favorite Movie?

"Harold and Maude" (1971), directed by Hal Ashby and starring Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon.

I remember the first time I saw this film. It was sometime during the early part of high school, after a long summer day, the best half of which was spent swimming in icy Puget Sound seawater and recovering on beaches of dark pebbles hot as little coals. I spent the night at a friend's house, and somehow we ended up watching Harold and Maude. I had to get up early and walk home the next day in the sunshine, down dusty dirt roads under deep green fir trees, and that morning the whole world seemed like a completely magical, amazing, sad place, and I was in a daze, a Cat Stevens, funeral-going, banjo filled daze, as I did a little two-step down this path and that on my bare feet.

A few years later, on a tour of prospective Universities, I first came to the Bay Area (where the film is set). And immediately, more than anything, I knew that was where I belonged. I needed to walk along those wide, bare, grassy hills in the clear California sunlight. I saw Harold and his little hearse driving down roads draped in eucalyptus branches, ghostly in the fog. I saw the most glorious birds, and even if they were only seagulls, it made no difference. And that is where, for the most part, I spent the next four years of my life.

Oh, I could rhapsodize for hours! I can honestly say that this one of the films that has profoundly changed my life. The soundtrack, provided by a sublimely folk-rockin' Cat Stevens, the colors, the framing (I happen to know all this has also influenced one of my favorite directors, Wes Anderson, who lists it among his favorite films). But I'll save all that for a term paper. Just trust me: see it. I hope you find in it even half the beauty and wonder that I do. Keep an open mind. And, I dare you not to cry at the end. I must have seen this movie at least fifty times, and still, just hearing the opening bars to "Trouble" gets me all kinds of choked up...and I wouldn't trade that feeling for anything in the world.


jeunedemoiselle said...

I've just discovered your blog thanks to Alix, the Cherry Blossom Girl. I like it, it's lovely!
And I adore Harold and Maude, it's such a beautiful film!

hannah + landon metz said...

i had such a crush on him! heck, the whole movie i have a crush on!

Ringo, have a banana! said...

hannah me too! Shit, I WOULD STILL HIT THAT.

my love for you. said...

oh i love harold & maude, and people who don't like it i am always a tad bit suspicious of.

it's such a bitter sweet film.

i love that bud cort was in life aquatic w/ steve zissou. i didn't know it was one of wes anderson's fav. films.

kate said...

Bud was on Ugly Betty this week! Nice to see him back.

Harriet said...

I too Love Harold & Maude!

It is so fun to introduce people to this film as well, it really does seem to leave people in a daze...