Analysis of Harold and Maude

Executive Summary


Genres: Drama, Comedy, Romance, Dark Comedy, War

Setting: Contemporary, Various locations including the Chasen's den, Maude's apartment, a hospital, an amusement park, and a sea cliff road

Overview: Harold and Maude explores the unlikely friendship between a young man fascinated with death and an elderly woman who embraces life. As they attend funerals together, Harold learns to appreciate the beauty of life, leading to a profound transformation. However, their relationship is threatened by societal expectations and Harold's impending military service.

Themes: Death and Suicide, Mother-Son Relationship, Unconventional Love, Individuality and Self-Expression, Transience of Life, Mental Health

Conflict and Stakes: The primary conflicts in this story revolve around Harold's struggle with his own mortality, his unconventional interests, and his desire to break free from his mother's control. The stakes are his own happiness, freedom, and the potential for a meaningful connection with Maude.

Overall Mood: Darkly humorous and contemplative

Mood/Tone at Key Scenes:

  • Scene 1: The scene where Harold sets up a hanging suicide has a dark and somber tone with a touch of black humor.
  • Scene 2: The scene where Harold discovers Maude's dead body in the bathroom has a shocking and horrifying tone.
  • Scene 3: The scene where Harold and Maude attend a funeral procession has a mix of sorrow, horror, and surprise.

Standout Features:

  • Unique Characters: Harold and Maude are unconventional and memorable characters that stand out in the story.
  • Dark Humor : The screenplay's blend of dark humor and melancholy creates a unique and engaging tone.
  • Exploration of Life and Death : The screenplay's exploration of existential themes and the meaning of life adds depth and resonance to the story.

Comparable Scripts:

  • Harold and Maude (1971)
  • American Beauty (1999)
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
  • The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

Writing Style:

The writing style of the entire screenplay can be described as a blend of dark humor, unconventional storytelling, and exploration of philosophical and existential themes.

Style Similarities:

  • Wes Anderson
  • Charlie Kaufman
Other Similarities


Explanation: The screenplay for 'Harold and Maude' is recommended for its effective portrayal of the dark and morbid tone of the film, the insightful dialogue between characters, the introduction of significant characters like Maude, and the exploration of themes such as mortality and the importance of living life to the fullest. However, there are areas of improvement in terms of smoother transitions between scenes, more engaging and dynamic dialogue, and the inclusion of more visual elements to enhance storytelling. Additionally, there is a need for clearer connections to the overall story arc and character development, as well as resolutions and objectives for certain scenes. Despite these areas for improvement, the screenplay offers a compelling and engaging narrative that showcases the growth and transformation of its characters, making it a recommended read for potential production.
Market Analaysis

Budget Estimate:$5-10 million

Target Audience Demographics: Adults aged 18-45, fans of dark comedies and indie films

Marketability: The screenplay offers a unique blend of dark humor, romance, and philosophical themes, which can attract a niche audience and generate critical acclaim.

The screenplay's exploration of unconventional characters and its mix of humor and melancholy can appeal to indie film enthusiasts and fans of offbeat storytelling.

The screenplay's strong performances, unique visual style, and thought-provoking themes make it a potential cult classic and a favorite among film festival audiences.

Profit Potential: Moderate to high, due to the screenplay's potential for critical acclaim, word-of-mouth buzz, and a dedicated fan base.

Analysis Criteria Percentiles
Writer's Voice

Summary:The writer's voice is characterized by a unique blend of dark humor, introspection, and unconventional dialogue, creating a distinct tone that challenges societal norms and expectations. The narrative description is vivid and often contrasts mundane settings with shocking events, adding depth to the story and characters.

Best representation: Scene 3 - Harold's Unconventional Interests and Family Concerns. This scene is the best representation of the author's voice because it showcases the writer's ability to blend dark humor with introspective moments and create a contrast between the superficial and the profound, setting the tone for the rest of the story.

Memorable Lines:

  • Harold: I love you. I love you! (Scene 38)
  • Maude: Farewell, Harold. It's been all such fun. (Scene 39)
  • Maude: To cry is to laugh. To laugh is to cry... a uniquely human trait. And the main thing in life, my dear Harold, is not to be afraid to be human. (Scene 34)
  • Maude: Reach out! Take a chance! Get hurt maybe. But play as well as you can. (Scene 24)
  • Harold: To pit your own life against another. (Scene 31)

Harold:A young man with a morbid fascination with death and a desire to break free from his mother's control

Maude:An eccentric and free-spirited 79-year-old woman who teaches Harold to embrace life and find joy in the present moment

Mrs. Chasen:Harold's overbearing and controlling mother who wants him to conform to societal expectations

Uncle Victor:Harold's military uncle who tries to convince him to join the Army

The Psychiatrist:Harold's psychiatrist who tries to understand and help him

Story Shape