Movie: „Harold And Maude“ – Summary And Analysis Of The Tree-planting Sequence

Presentation / Essay (Pre-University), 2009

3 Pages, Grade: 1-


Tim Blume

In the following text, I’ll explain what happens between Maude and the policeman dur- ing their two encounters. When the cop meets Harold and Maude first, he asks Maude to show him her licence. Maude responds she hasn’t got any and tells him about the truck and the stolen tree. She is nice and polite towards the policeman and when he asks her something, Harold and Maude drive away, leaving the policeman and his motorcycle. The cop is quite shocked and needs some time to notice that they’ve left and to follow them.

They meet a second time after Harold and Maude have passed a bridge. Maude honks to get the policeman’s attention and he starts his engine to follow them. Using his siren, he forces them to stop. The cop is very angry now and opens the car’s door without asking. Maude asks him in a sarcastic way if they met the cop’s brother some minutes ago. She is polite but the cop is very angry and when Harold hesitates to get out of the car, the cop shouts at him: “Get out, bastard!”. The cop mentions that Maude got in a lot of trouble but she seems to uninterested. Maude plans to leave on the cop’s motorcycle while he examines the car and tells Harold to get the spade. They then leave on the motorcycle. The cop notices that and shouts that they have to stop, otherwise he’ll shoot at them. He aims his pistol, hesitates but doesn’t shoot at them.

I’m now going to analyze some elements of camera work used by the directors of the movie. In the very beginning, we see a car rushing through a toll station and a tall tree standing on this car. The camera zooms in and pans to show the car’s movement.

In the following scene, the car isn’t moving anymore and we can see the cop, his motorcycle and the car on a medium-long shot. During the conversation between Maude and the cop, they’re shown with the aid of a medium shot, the camera alternating between Maude and the cop. When they talk about the tree, it is shown by a full shot.

Maude starts the engine and they leave, in this moment a medium shot or even a close- up shows the disbelieving facial expressions of the cop. The camera is now places on the hood, tracking the leaving car and showing Maude and Harold. The car is shown with the aid of a high-angle shot when they’re forced to stop and when Maude starts to do her U- turn, the camera is placed on the hood again and slightly tilting up and down to show the car’s movements.

The next scene shows Harold and Maude being in the dark forest. You can see some sun- light reaching through the trees and when you see Harold and Maude, light falls on their faces. The dark surrounding with the bright faces creates a romantic effect, but also some gloomy effect to show that Harold and Maude did something wrong when they’ve stolen the tree.

In the next scene, they are shown in the moving car with a static camera. The tracking shot of the policeman following them is “disturbed” by the motorcycle’s siren.

In the very end, some over-the-shoulder shots are used to show both Maude and the cop during their conversation. When they try to leave on the cop’s motorcycle, Harold can be seen by using an over-the-shoulder shot over Maude’s shoulder. This shot is used to show Harold coming to Maude before they leave.

The movie’s sequence ends with a medium to close-up shot of the cop’s face to show his anger and to show that he hesitates whether to shoot or not.

The sequence shows Maude replacing “respect for laws with allegiance to her desires and her conscience” (Film Quarterly, Fall 1972) in a quite obvious way. Furthermore, she “dismisses conventional behavior” (ibid.).


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Movie: „Harold And Maude“ – Summary And Analysis Of The Tree-planting Sequence
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Tim Blume (Author), 2009, Movie: „Harold And Maude“ – Summary And Analysis Of The Tree-planting Sequence, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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