10 Counterculture Love Stories on Film

While Moonrise Kingdom is currently making Wes Anderson fans swoon, one film that inspired the director’s filmography is getting a Blu-ray release today from distinguished distributor Criterion. Harold and Maude was digitally restored and lovingly packaged by the company, and we can’t get enough of it. The darkly comedic, unconventional love story centers on a morbid, wealthy 19-year-old man (Bud Cort) and the bohemian 79-year-old widow he falls for (Ruth Gordon). It’s a heartbreaking, but inspiring tale, and a landmark of 1970’s cult cinema.

The youthful rebellion of the counterculture movement, and the anxiety of the Vietnam War are reflected through Harold and Maude’s relationship. The 1971 film clearly expresses an anti-war sentiment through its characters that buck authority in different ways and carve their own path despite the odds (a loving push from Gordon’s feisty octogenarian is crucial here). We thought of other cinematic couples from various points in film history that also found love in a countercultural landscape. Dig into our picks, then leave your own in the comments below.

Bonnie and Clyde

Released during America’s emerging counterculture, 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde resonated with younger audiences who were still reeling from Kennedy’s assassination and coping with news about Vietnam. The film reflects the buzz of social change. The iconic, cold-blooded killers played by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway helped usher in the New Hollywood era, breaking all the taboos of cinema, sticking to their guns (literally) while on the lam after a slew of holdups during the Great Depression. Women wanted to look like Dunaway’s Bonnie Parker, men wanted to be as cool as Beatty’s Clyde, and the no-holds-barred love the on-screen couple shared exhilarated viewers.