Harold and Maude

I’ve had this film recommended to me many times, so I thought I’d finally check it out.

(sigh) It was terribly dull. Interestingly, though, it seems to be one of the first manifestations of the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” concept. (Warning: link is to TvTropes. Massive amounts of your time may be lost perusing this fascinating, fascinating site.)

It’s really quite simple: We have a male who, not least because of his tendency towards strong self-regulation, is being stifled in a life of convention, responsibility, and rigidness. Along comes a free-spirited female whose relative lack of restraint and order is initially shocking yet somewhat enticing to the straitlaced male. The two begin a relationship, which may or may not involve coupling or long-term romantic entanglement, but the male’s worldview and attitudes are forever altered. The female often departs, leaving the male to passively follow his new trajectory.

I’d wondered where the template for such films as “Elizabethtown” came from. Perhaps this is it.

See also: the Magical Negro trope.


4 Responses to “Harold and Maude”

  1. My dad still sometimes makes fun of my brother for thinking that movie was good.

    Harold didn’t actually seem that conventional or responsible. He spent all his time pretending to commit suicide and going to strangers’ funerals.

    Reading up on the director’s later life, it seems he could have used a good bit more stiflement and rigidity.

  2. He wasn’t waving, he was drowning.

    I am deeply sympathetic towards the idea of shucking off useless and harmful constraints, but the idea of simply obeying the impulses of the moment is NOT something I can get behind. There *is* a happy medium.

  3. He wasn’t waving, he was drowning.
    I have no idea what you’re referring to here.

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