Master of None Blog

Why Harold and Maude is still my favourite film

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post – waiting for my boiler to heat up the third load of water in order for me to have a full bath seems as good a time as any. This week I was undertaking a particularly arduous piece of work, during which I received a text from my friend. It read ‘Watching Harold and Maude’. For those of you not yet acquainted with the greatest film of all time you may be under the impression that my friend is a voyeuristic busybody, who likes sharing her daily movements with the people she knows. However, I assure you, this is not the case. Anyone who knows me well enough also knows my almost religious obsession with this film.

The first time I saw Harold and Maude was back in my pseudo-hippy,  baggy trouser, Hull days. I was overly cynical, with an extreme distrust for everyone around me (you would say it comes with the territory…if you’re a southerner), not grungy or  an outright goth but the pots of angst were certainly bubbling away. One day, when I was out sweeping the streets of Hull with the hems on my trousers, I met up with my mate Caroline who handed me a VHS tape. It had one of those tacky looking 70s covers where the photo on the front looks like it’s been taken by some kid who had never even used a camera before. I remember the ugly orange typography, badly chosen, reading ‘Harold and Maude’. ‘I got it for 50p from a bargain bin,’ Caroline said casually. I shoved it in my bag and thought nothing of it.

I watched that film to death.

I watched it over and over again, feeling like there was someone out there who got it, who got everything. My mind was completely made up that I was going to become Ruth Gordon’s character ‘Maude’ in later life, settle down in a trailer, paint my mental pictures, feed the birds, rob cars, sleep with sickly young boys and pose nude at the ripe old age of 70 for sculptors. It was all there and to this day it continues to inspire me. Comically, I found out recently that Ruth Gordon didn’t know how to drive, and that all the footage of her stealing cars and tearing up the road was in fact her getting towed along by a van!

I was so in love with Bud Cort. His romantic nature coupled with that creepy, gothic complexion really got my heart racing. His staged suicide attempts, which are unrelenting in the film, made me feel so powerful…maybe weirdly so. I loved him to the extent that I dated his doppelganger when I went to uni. It was all there- the milky completion, the miserable history, even the walk! He later confessed to me that he was dating me because I looked a bit like PJ Harvey- it’s reassuring to know we were both indulging ourselves in an impossible fantasy.

I have probably watched Harold and Maude over 100 times now and cried every single time. Am I a sad loser? Well if people are out there crying about Twilight and The god damn Notebook for the umpteenth time, I think I can answer that one without hesitation.