Harold and Maude
The Criterion Collection
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With the idiosyncratic American fable Harold and Maude, countercultural director Hal Ashby (Being There) fashioned what would become the cult classic of its era. Working from a script by Colin Higgins (9 to 5), Ashby tells the story of the emotional and romantic bond between a death-obsessed young man (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’s Bud Cort) from a wealthy family and a devil-may-care, bohemian octogenarian (Rosemary’s Baby’s Ruth Gordon). Equal parts gallows humor and romantic innocence, Harold and Maude dissolves the line between darkness and light along with the ones that separate people by class, gender, and age, and it features indelible performances and a remarkable soundtrack by Cat Stevens.
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So the question becomes is it an overall better picture than the DVD? My simple answer is, yes, slightly better. Only a tiny bit better. If I would rate the picture quality of the DVD version as a 5 of 10, I would give the blu-ray release picture quality a 5.2 of 10 scale.
I've been watching on an up-converting Panasonic Blu-ray player, watching with an Optoma 3D projector on a glass-bead screen. There is a slight improvement in resolution with the blu-ray version. There is still video noise and grainy-ness because lots of the movie is shot in dark settings. I also watched on a Vizio BR player and TV and had about the same change compared to the DVD.
One of the benchmarks I use is when Harold and Maude are sitting outside near San Fransisco Bay. There is a highway sign in the distance. This is about 69 minutes into the film. The ability to read the sign is really not improved, even though it is mostly in focus. This scene was filmed on San Fransisco Bay in Emeryville, CA along the I-80/580 exprwy, near the intersection of I-80 and Powell St. in the mud flats. If you look very closely you can see the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge next to Maude.
If you are a fan of this film like I am I suggest listening to the supplementary audio when watching, it gives a lot of insight into how the film was made and why it looks the way it does. Also contains many insights into the actors skills and personalities.
I truly believe it's an underappreciated and relegated gem with some delightfully provocative themes and characterizations. And the score!!!
By waiting, though, I was able to acquire this edition.
You might want this movie. On Blu-ray, this edition is worth it for the quality and extras alone. For the content goes without question, in my opinion.
Even if others find it too odd for their tastes, that cuts both ways.
I've been known to use this movie & others (certain Pythons, Being There, Buckaroo Banzai, Into the Night for instance) to rate MY friends! :)