Blu-Ray Review: Harold and Maude (Masters of Cinema)

You’re unlikely to see a more perfect opening sequence than the beautiful beginning of Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude. Along with sublime musical accompaniment from Cat Stevens, it perfectly sets the scene to this offbeat American love story between two of life’s outsiders.

Introverted and obsessed by death, Harold (Bud Cort) lives an unhappy yet opulent life with his almost pathologically disconnected mother (Vivian Pickles). As well as spending his time staging suicides (which his mother studiously ignores), Harold also enjoys attending funerals. At one such ‘social gathering’ he meets 79 year old Maude (Ruth Gordon), and they tentatively form a bond. Maude lives life to the fullest, rekindling Harold’s interest in living.

Ashby has created an eccentric and spiritual journey, focussing on death, renewal and the temporary nature of existence. Their lives are both haunted by war, and whilst Maude channels her past experiences into embracing every moment, Harold is bored with the inevitability and ambivalence of growing up during the Vietnam War; unable to make real connections.

Harold and Maude is beautifully shot and edited, and despite having a fairly unbalanced script, manages to be touching, sweet, amusing and affecting; maintaining its status as a firm cult favourite.

Special Features:

• High-definition 1080p presentation on the Blu-ray, progressive encode on the DVD
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• New and exclusive video discussion of the film by critic David Cairns
• Audio commentary by Hal Ashby biographer Nick Dawson and producer Charles B. Mulvehill
• 40-page booklet featuring archival interviews with director Hal Ashby and writer-producer Colin Higgins, a 1971 profile of star Ruth Gordon, and rare archival imagery.

Harold and Maude is released on Blu-ray by Eureka Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema collection on July 14

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