The film Harold and Maud is an American dark romantic comedy drama produced in 1971. The plot of the story focuses on the life of a young man named Harold who is unhealthily intrigued by death (Higgins). Because of his fascination with death, Harold stages a number of elaborate fake suicides and attends funerals as a hobby. At one of the funeral’s that Harold attends, he meets a seventy-nine-year-old lady named Maude. Maude displays an irresistible love for life and teaches Harold how to make the most out of life by enjoying the pleasures that life has to offer (Higgins). After meeting Maude, Harold pulls away from his traditional upbringing, forced upon him by his mother Mrs. Chasen. The time that Harold and Maude spend together leads to them developing a romantic relationship, which is consummated on the eve of her eightieth birthday (Higgins). At the time of Maude’s eightieth, Harold had decided to propose to her. However, before Harold is able to propose, Maude informs him that she has overdosed on sleeping pills and will be dead by the morning. Maude dies and Harold stages one final suicide attempt. The story ends with him deciding not to end his life, but to pursue the pleasures it has to offer, as Maude showed him (Higgins). [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
The film Harold and Maud would be interesting to college modern students because the film provides historical social insights about challenging social norms; which is something that younger generations still struggle with today. The main conflict presented in the film is a struggle between Harold and his mother (Dramatica). Harold’s mother, Mrs. Chasen, has raised Harold to uphold the social norms of this time in society. These norms are to behave at school, get a job, marry a respectable young women, and start a family (Dramatica). The norms presented in the film represent the classic ‘American dream’ which was a common western ideal of how society should operate. The idealized American dream society is rich with gender stereotypes and rejects behavior that does not fit closely with accepted values and beliefs. The older generation in this story (Harold’s mother, Uncle, psychiatrist, etc.) are troubled by the rejection of these social norms, which occurred in the late sixties and is exemplified by Maude and Harold’s character development (Dramatica). Harold’s character exemplifies the blossoming individuality and freedom amongst the younger generation of this time, and Maude’s character represents the pinnacle of those ideals. Harold is a young man who does not fit in to the pre-conceived social norms of society, he is attracted to a women who represents individuality, spirituality, and social freedom from those norms. Harold’s inability to fit into social norms does not go unnoticed by his mother, uncle, or psychiatrist. When Mrs. Chasen notices Harold spending time with Maude, she along with her Uncle and the psychiatrist attempt to apply conventional wisdom to Harold’s problem, and institutionalize him (Dramatica). They attempt to institutionalize him through pushing him to date and marry younger women who Mrs. Chasen thinks are ‘respectable’ or by pushing him to join the army. Harold demonstrates by his plan to propose to Maude that he is not against the institution of marriage, but that he values his beliefs in individuality, spirituality, and the things not generally accepted by society, over upholding social norms (Dramatica). Therefore, this film would be attractive to college students in modern society because the concept of defying social norms is still a significant issue. The fight for freedom to express individual values and beliefs in society is very much ongoing. The trend towards acceptance of alternative belief structures and lifestyles, for example the right to marry an individual of the same sex, is something that began around the time that this film was produced. The acceptance of lifestyles that deviate from accepted norms has progressed since this film was developed in 1971, but there is still much discrimination experienced by deviants of the norms today. For example, the sexual and romantic relationship between Harold and Maude heralded extreme disapproval and disgust from Mrs. Chasen, the uncle, the priest, and the psychiatrist. The sexual relationship between Harold and Maude is a form of sexual deviance from the norms of society (Dramatica). Harold and Maude’s relationship met harsh criticism in 1971, and would still face criticism today. Therefore, the central themes of the film are ones that college students today could relate to and so they have reason to be interested in the film. [Click Essay Writer to order your essay]
The task of translating stories between print and film mediums is plagued by many difficulties. The most difficult aspect of translating stories between print and film is the task of translating either highly visual aspects into text, or translating extremely dialogue or text heavy aspects into visual themes (Cartmall). To solve these issues, translations from print to film usually fall under one of three categories. These categories are the loose, the faithful, or the modern. The Loose approach to film and text adaptations may use original situation, story idea, or characters to create a film that bears little resemblance to the original text (Cartmall). This approach gives the director of the operation the freedom to change the story when difficulties occur. The faithful approach to adaptation attempts to recapture the original text as closely as possible. This approach retains characters, storylines, and most events. The faithful approach can be difficult to follow for literary adaptations because they often have complex dialogue and metaphors which can be difficult to represent visually (Blueston). Modern approaches to adaptation vary in how the approach the translations between film and text. One popular modern approach is the displaced setting. This approach changes the film time, but maintains loyalty to all other major aspects of the original text, including language. [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
Blueston, G. Novels into film. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.
Cartmall, D., Whelehan, I. Adaptations: From text to screen, Screen to text. New York: Routledge, 1999.
Dramatica. Harold and Maude: Comprehensive Storyform . 2017. 8 February 2017.
Harold and Maude. By Colinn Higgins. Dir. Hal Ashby. Perf. Bud Cort, Vivian Pickles Ruth Gordon. 1971. VHS, DVD.