[Quick Summary: When an extremely death obsessed young man meets an even more extreme 79 yr. old woman, he is transformed by her zest for life.]
A writer had asked for examples of a good midpoint turn & I was all out of 'em.
So I lucked out that "Harold & Maude" was this week's script-o-the-week. It's got a great midpoint!
Midpoint can be defined as: "a setback, reversal or turning point which sends the character in a new direction, pushes the plot into a higher gear or raises the character's commitment to another level." (New School Screenwriting Curriculum Glossary)
Here, the script shows at the midpoint how much Harold has changed because of Maude.
This is the moment we finally see Harold has reversed his downward spiral.
1st - The writer sets the tone in an amusing narrative.
ex. "Partly because of the pot, but mostly because he has found a friend, Harold opens up for the first time in his life."
2nd - The writer gives Harold a long, bang up speech that actors would kill to deliver.
ex. "I decided then I enjoyed being dead."
3rd - Maude does the unexpected - she reacts with acceptance & then gives him a swift kick in the pants.
ex. "I understand. A lot of people enjoy being dead. But they are not really dead. They're just backing away from life....(leading a cheer) Give me a "L"..."I".."V"..."E" LIVE!!!"
4th - Because Harold trusts Maude is looking out for his happiness, he reacts with good cheer. This is a markedly different response than what he gave his controlling Mother.
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Harold is a different man at the midpoint. He's gone from morose to happy because of the antagonist, Maude.
The stakes are higher now. Can he sustain this happiness?
Harold & Maude (1971)
by Colin Higgins