Four Short Essays on "Harold and Maude, Pt. 1

Topics: Harold and Maude, Hal Ashby, Life Pages: 2 (577 words) Published: April 23, 2007
1.Hal Ashby's film, Harold and Maude, is full of subtle uses of technique used cleverly to advance the plot of the film. Perhaps the slyest example of this is the use of overlaying once scene from the next. Often the dialogue are is over-laid from one scene to the next – for example, a shot still focused on Harold's face as his Uncle Victor begins speaking before the cut to him in his office has taken place. This is a clever way of drawing in the audience; the voice is displaced, neither coming from Harold's face and its speaker not appearing in the current scene, which is curious to the viewer and causes his attention to sharpen. Often times, the strange character talking in the next scene compels them just as much. Another example of overlaying often takes place during the movie by continuing the same conversation and speaker, but changing the scene or setting. This often happens as Maude explains her life philosophies to Harold. The two are in a green house, looking at tiny sprouting plants, and Maude begins speaking of the "circle of life" – "They're born, the grow, they live, they die" – and then a cut to a shot filled with plants grow even taller than Maude – "and change into something else!"

Ashby also uses great technique in cross-cutting scenes. Cross-cutting is a set of multiple cuts of two different scenes and actions (usually happening simultaneously) in order to create a sense of quickness or of being rushed. The most dramatic example of this occurs at the end of the film, cutting the scenes of Maude being rushed to the Emergency Room as Harold drives his car vigorously. The tension of Maude's approaching death as well as Harold's potentially dramatic demise as he drives his hearse off a cliff is multiplied rather than divided, a great way to emphasize the climax of such a story.

2.Harold and Maude become united because of the importance they place on death. Harold's attraction to the macabre is more perverse and shallow, while...
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