The Frida Cinema

Orange County's Year-Round Film Festival

HAROLD AND MAUDE: LIFE, DEATH, & SUNFLOWERS 

(CW: SUICIDE) 

Harold has committed fifteen suicides. He tells his psychiatrist that it’s at least a rough  estimate. While these suicides are staged, he was nonetheless forced into an office by his mother,  who has gradually progressed from no longer wanting to bear them, to what is now a hefty  passiveness. The psychiatrist asks him to try and find a solution, and whether he does anything to  relieve himself of this presumed dread. Harold – proper in his wording, simply says that to do  just that, he goes to funerals. One of these is where he will meet Maude. She is almost seventy  years older than him. By the time this story ends, one of the most memorable, beautifully  bittersweet screen romances will have blossomed. And this year will be the fiftieth in which it  has continued to thrive. 

It’s difficult to truly put into words the weight of Hal Ashby’s classic; arguably the finest  that gallows humor has ever been in 20th century media (and certainly an all-timer in cinema’s  great middle finger moments). I’ve spent two Valentine’s Days seeing it alone at the Frida, but  that loneliness couldn’t possibly be felt under the warmth provided by Cat Stevens’ sunny,  acoustic melodies and the gradual surfacing from the utter blackness enveloping Harold – boldly  performed in every facet by Bud Cort; all with the hand of his beloved Maude – personified with  the natural grace of Ruth Gordon, clearing 100% away from the Satanic psychodrama of  Rosemary’s Baby just three years prior, and into somewhere far more empathetic. Ashby’s film is  one that has absorbed itself in me over time. I knew it was love at first sight, but having my  viewings of it come at a time where I was beginning to understand my own shortcomings in  wanting to live, and how to fix that, cemented a place for it inside my own self. With heavy  inspiration taken from the wonderful poem very recently written about Argento’s Suspiria by our  own Sean Woodard, I feel that the best way for me to properly go about what this film means to  me is to take it to the stanzas. I hope there’s something in these lines that help others convey their  own feelings on the film. And if the feelings aren’t ones you have, then perhaps a trip to Tustin’s 

Mess Hall Market to catch a drive-in screening of the film on Sunday, February 14th (yes,  Valentine’s Day!) will take you on the road to find out yourself. And now, a little something.

 

the one i cry for
is the one who has drifted
a ghost rendered yellow
plucked from the jaws of life
granted a bounty of air
floating upwards
and still upwards 

i hear your sadness out there
i hear the sky moan
passing through cemeteries
and hospital corridors
i hold myself out
and i only wait
for air to swallow me 

i find myself collapsing
beyond the veins of earth
and worms and rot
it is air pulling me down
or rather
what i want to pull me down
the direction i choose 

i feel its end
i feel the car crashing

my bones colliding with metal
descending into bits and pieces
percolating through the ground
becoming scattered and seed-like
and then we breathe 

leaves grow and bind
green and young
we rise as we connect
we reach air
protruding through soil
becoming a multitude of suns
pricked and together 

you’re still not here
yet you’re why i am
your words travel through my ears
ringing like chimes of gold
to be still is to let yourself float
through air and endless seas
to float is all we have to do