Healthy Aging in 'Harold and Maude' movie
The romantic dark comedy Harold and Maude (1971) addresses the issue of ageing and the elderly in American society of the end of the twentieth century that are relevant at present day as well. The movie portrays the process of ageing from biological, social, and psychological perspectives, and thoroughly examines attitudes towards death and dying among representatives of different generations. Incorporating elements of dark humor and existentialist drama, the film interprets the problem of ageism by slightly dissolving boundaries between the youth and the elderly. The issue of ageing is interconnected with the issue of sexuality, which, as it turns out, does not disappear even after the age of seventy. Although this was a taboo topic in the 1970ies, and to some extent remains so even no, Harold and Maude opens it to public discussion as something natural absolutely not out of the ordinary.
In the example of 79-year-old Maude one can see that there is no need to be so squeamish about the subject of sex and sexuality of the elderly. Some researchers suggest that “…the reality is that our sexual selves do not disappear after age 65. People continue to enjoy sex—and not always safe sex—well into their later years” (Opentextbc.ca). The movie represents ageing as s natural process and points out the fact that no one should feel like less valuable or less important for this reason. In the plot of the film a fifteen-year old Harold falls in love with Maude after they met each other at a funeral. Harold is also not common representative of that time youth. The young man is obsessed with death, who had already tried a number of times to commit a suicide and is fond of attending funerals. This is one of the interests he shares with Maude. The main cultural issue presented in the film is the issue of total misunderstanding and rejection of such a relationship between Harold and Maude by Harold’s mother, his psychologist, the priest, and all the others who also exhibit disgust and horror in this respect. The film is presenting the other side of the issue, which is bright one.
A 79-year-old Maude if full of energy and optimism and teaches Harold to appreciate every moment of life: “Reach out. Take a chance. Get hurt even. But play as well as you can. Go team, go! Give me an L. Give me an I. Give me a V. Give me an E. L-I-V-E. LIVE!” (Harold and Maude, 1971). She is not concerned with her age, neither Harold is. The societal outbursts do not bother them. The movie provides strong arguments on the issue of healthy aging that is almost everywhere is accurately addressed.
The movie rejects all the biological, social and psychological boundaries, imposed by the society, to Harold and Maude’s affair. From the biological perspective Harold is already mature enough to have an affair, and Maude is as well still …