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great but often misunderstood film
mjs3p25 May 2000
Warning: Spoilers
Many people who saw The Graduate on its original release, including critics like Roger Ebert, have misinterpreted the main point of the film. Ben Braddock is NOT a hero that is supposed to glorify the rebellion of the 60s generation. The viewer is NOT supposed to stand up and cheer after the final scene. Ben is supposed to represent the confused state of a college graduate stuck in between youth and adulthood. As best depicted by the scene where he holds the hotel door open for both the elderly group and the younger group, he feels alienated from both generations. He does not want to hear the loud music of the car next to him at the drive-thru, nor is he interested in `plastics' or the materialistic pleasures of his parents.

He has no idea what he wants out of life, and only thinks that marrying Elaine will be the solution to this problem. As the last shot depicts (which may be the best final shot in film history), Ben only seems to be happy for a few seconds after he and Elaine get onto the bus with no money, no prospects, and no certain future. In fact, Nichols cleverly uses Paul Simon's Sound of Silence, and drowns out much of the background sound to show that Ben's is in the same position at the end of the film as he is at the beginning. He has not found what he really wants to get out of life and is as confused as ever. This scenario is not dated nor is it only appropriate for the 60s, it can apply to anyone who is lost or has no idea what to do with his or her lives.

Nichols' brilliant direction reinforces the complex exploration of confusion and uncertainty. The flow of shots after he first sleeps with Mrs. Robinson is incredible, as is his use of the swimming pool to enforce his entrapment. He effortlessly switches in and out of focus at different depths of each shot to emphasize certain characters and dialogue. It goes without saying that the performances by Hoffman and Bancroft are first-rate. Add Paul Simon's haunting Sound of Silence, Scarborough Fair, and the instrumentals of what would become Mrs. Robinson, and you have songs and images that downright haunting. As a recent college graduate who was not even born in the 60s, I can say that this film has not dated, and is deserving of its #7 ranking by the American Film Institute.
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A Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Kurtz97915 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The Graduate (1967/Mike Nichols)

If ever a song were more appropriate for a film, besides 'All Along the Watchtower' for "Apocalypse Now", it is 'The Sounds of Silence' preformed by Simon & Garfunkel in Mike Nichol's "The Graduate". The song, nearly word for word, describes the inner turmoil that the characters of "The Graduate" face. They are lost and confused, stuck on the bridge of life, two crossing into adulthood, and one into old age. And that's just one way to look at it.

"The Graduate" is one of the best films I have ever had the pleasure to witness, and I only wish I were alive when it was first released. Dustin Hoffman, in his first major film role, plays Benjamin Braddock: the epitome of the confused and isolated young adult male. He sits in his room and does nothing. He lies around in his parent's pool for hours on end. Ben, who has just graduated from college, is home for the summer. Then, after an awkward sexual encounter with a friend of his parents named Mrs. Robinson, a one night stand turns into a summer romance. But betrayal soon follows as Benjamin falls for Mrs. Robinson's daughter, Elaine.

Nichol's directorial genius (he won an Oscar for the film) really shows in the opening party sequence celebrating Ben's arrival home. There is a close-up of Ben's face as he stumbles his way through the event, listening to advice and shaking hands with the faceless (much like his future) masses. The camera moves in such a way that a feeling of claustrophobia comes over the viewer. They are overcome by what is going on around them, much like Benjamin is at this crossroads in his life. Another example is when Ben first arrives at the fateful hotel where he meets Mrs. Robinson for sex. He walks around the lobby, suspicious that the desk clerk is on to him, and then he attempts to walk into a room. Only a large group of the elderly walks out, and Benjamin stands there holding the door for them. Then he proceeds inside, only to be passed by a group of high school students. This image once again reinforces the crossroads that Ben is at in his life.

After finally viewing this classic, I realized that many of my favorite directors to emerge from the 90's (mainly Wes Anderson) were greatly influenced by this film. What's more interesting is that "The Graduate" was a landmark film for American cinema and the decade in which it was released, sharing the same themes that Benjamin experiences throughout the film. Most of American cinema was very conventional up until the 60's. Nothing extremely scandalous was shown in a film, and many serious topics were not widely addressed through cinema…yet. "The Graduate" is the perfect mix of old and new. It's the 'bridge' that separates the standard American films from the more experimental ones that would emerge all throughout the 1970's.

The same can be said for the decade of the 1960's. America lost its innocence the day Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. For the next five years, the country went through a spiral of events that led to the sexual revolution of the late 1960's. And "The Graduate" separates the white picket fences of the 50's and early 60's from the Rock and Roll and drugs of the late 1960's and early 70's. It's a crossroads in the middle of the most turbulent time in American history. In one of the films most ironic images, a tired and lonesome Benjamin slumps on a bench on the Berkley campus (an important place for the sexual revolution) under an American flag blowing in the wind. The flag still waves, but Benjamin is beat. He represents the fall and eventual metamorphosis of the American dream.

But aside from all its serious themes and deeper meanings, "The Graduate" is a comedy at its heart. It contains one of the funniest and most exciting climaxes in cinema. And the final image is a knockout. It shows Benjamin and Elaine sitting at the end of a bus filled with elders, looking ahead blankly, at the road and at their future. Then the bus drives off in the distance. They do not know where their future is headed, or where the bus is even going. It was the same circumstance for America in 1967. The film closes with the same song it opened with: "The Sounds of Silence".
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I have one word for you : PLASTICS
dixxjamm7 April 2006
What a ride....This is a perfect example of what art can generate if one puts soul and wit into it. Firstly, I find human emotions and life issues depicted in a bitter-comic manner to be a charming combination.Love,sex,insecurity,family relationships,shyness,deception are treated with great humor and witty dialog in this movie.Long and elaborated shots,incredible story-telling creativity (like 1-st person camera views,long still frames,distance frames),video-clip like sequences (beautifully sustained by Simon and Garfunkel's heart-warming poetry and sad irony).There is enough creative film work in The Graduate to suffice for 10 movies.The dialog is excellent and the acting pure genius.And, oh...the time frame...the sixties...don't get me started.The 2000's are like an insurance seminar compared to that... No need to praise this movie anymore, it speaks for itself.It is not,however,a movie for the masses.This is no Ben-Hur type of flick,with spectacular imagery and epic storyline.It is an epic of the inner soul.It requires a bit of meditation, it is only entertaining if you get in touch with your inner self and not expect to watch the screen and BE entertained. Despite its comic appearance,I always felt that it touched a sensitive somehow sad chord in me.It's kinda like:"Haha very funny, but I felt those type of emotions and they didn't seem funny then."It's also so easy to laugh at other people's feelings,torments and emotions, but when you realize that you are also part of that old human comedy and drama, your laughing becomes more restrained.More mature.I always connected with this movie, and with Mike Nichols.Too bad they don't make'em like this anymore.We live in an era where people like John Woo and Michael Bay are starting to dictate what we will be watching more and more.What a shame....
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Some comments on the second half
krumski10 June 2003
Warning: Spoilers
(This review concerns itself solely with a specific discussion of the latter half of the movie, so if you have not already seen it, you probably won't want to read this either.)

This is my second write-up for The Graduate – it's kind of hard for me to shut up about this movie; it's one of my all-time favorites, and I find more and more to like every time I watch it.

What I want to talk about specifically, though, is the second half of the movie – that is, everything past the point where Elaine Robinson finds out Benjamin and her mother have been having an affair. The film builds to a kind of climactic moment with that revelation, almost a mini-ending (complete with a long shot and a fade to black). Indeed, for many people, the film actually *does* end right about there: it has long been a foregone conclusion in critical circles that the film never completely finds its way back on track from this point on. That is, once the focus shifts from the relationship of Ben and Mrs. Robinson to that of Ben's pursuit of Elaine, The Graduate simply runs out of gas.

It's not my intention to argue too strenuously against this consensus: I don't believe there can be any doubt that the first half of the movie is much sharper, funnier, more intense, and just all-around more involving than the second half. (Though I do believe that by the first part being *so* strong, and involving us so well, it does tend to make the weaknesses of the second part less jarring than they should be: we already know and care about these characters – Benjamin, anyway – and want to follow them anywhere, no matter how sketchy and unfocused their stories begin to seem.)

No, the point I want to make here is that, though The Graduate becomes a different *kind* of film in the second half (a romance, versus the sex farce/comedy of manners that was the first half), it never ceases being jaundice-eyed and satirical about its characters. I say this because it is an easy enough assumption to make that the film makers expect us to take Benjamin's love for and quest of Elaine at face value: to believe that they were `meant for' each other, and that their ultimate triumph is a resolution to be sincerely wished for.

In reality, it is nothing of the sort. Ben and Elaine barely know each other – at least not in any meaningful way – when he begins his intense courtship of her (`stalking' might be the better term). There's something undeniably creepy and unsettling about Benjamin's fixation on Elaine: it's as if he's on a quest to woo and win her, but he's doing it primarily for the sake of being on a quest (and perhaps as a way of jump-starting himself out of the rut that his relationship with Mrs. Robinson has become). There's nothing specific about Elaine that is spelled out for the audience as to why she might appeal to Ben so much – save for the simple fact that she's NOT Mrs. Robinson. This lack has often been attributed to poor screenwriting and a flawed conception and, while that's an understandable conclusion to draw given the second half's other failings, I don't believe this is actually the case. Whatever you may think of it as a thematic strand, I believe this sense of blankness in the relationship between Ben and Elaine was deliberate on the part of the filmmakers - ie. they knew what they were doing, and what point they were trying to make.

And that point relates directly to the fallacy of romantic love. We see many scenes of Ben viewing Elaine longingly from afar (to the omnipresent strains of Simon and Garfunkel), the camera's soft-focus making it all seem like something out of a fable, or (more likely) a Harlequin romance. But, as an audience, we are so used to (just as much today as back in 1967) accepting these kinds of shots and poses as a shorthand for deep love, and a feeling that the two characters in question were `meant' to be together, that we are easily fooled into thinking that that is just what the film makers have in mind for these two. In reality, it's an insightful (visual) comment upon just how such `shorthand' – in not only film, but any of the arts (literature, song, painting, etc.) – screws up young people such as Ben and Elaine, giving them the illusion of love and passion being there when they aren't.

Which explains the film's ending – that is, its very last shot. It should be joyous and celebratory, as Ben has succeeded in his goal – snatching his beloved away from the altar and claiming her for himself (and she going along willingly, even giddily). But after the initial enthusiasm wears off, the smiles on the two of them dissipate and our final image of them is one of sheer dejection and confusion. And it must be so, because they have been duped by years of pop culture hogwash into believing that this is what true love is; the realization hits them hard that they don't have the slightest idea what they're doing together. And so Ben's dilemma of what to do with his `future' continues: he has wound up in exactly the same place he was at the beginning of the movie – only now with an equally confused human being as an appendage.

As I say, all this may not make you *like* the second part of the movie any better than you do (I can appreciate it, but on a different, somewhat lesser, level than the first part). But I think it's at least important to be clear what the film makers were after, and to judge it according to how well it hits *that* mark, rather than the one we may have been *fooled* into thinking they were going for.
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Dee da dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee da dee, Doo da doo doo doo doo doo da doo
ToldYaSo12 September 1999
Here's to you Mrs. Robinson. Was it the song by Simon and Garfunkel made popular by the film, or did the film entrench the song into popular culture? Who's to say either way? It's a matter of opinion, and it's irrelevant really. The fact is, it's a great song and a great movie and the two compliment each other like peanut butter and jelly, ham and swiss or May and December.

This movie is for anyone who's ever wondered what they are going to do with their future, anyone who's been in love with someone their parents didn't approve of, or anyone who's had an affair with one of their parent's friends. Granted, not many will fall in the latter category, but it throws an interesting spin on the film.

The film perfectly encapsulates and portrays the feelings of self-doubt, alienation, disenchantment and unwanted pressures and expectations for a twenty-something just out of college. Dustin Hoffman is the only person we can possibly imagine in the role of Benjamin as his imprint and superb acting makes this film a great one. As reflected on in an interview with Dustin Hoffman on the DVD, "The Graduate at 25", his life changed after this film, propelling him into something of a superstar status as his incredible talent found wide recognition. When I saw "Rushmore" I had a similar feeling about young Jason Schwartzman in the lead role. For him, time will tell. Although "Rushmore" isn't the time tested success that "The Graduate" is, anyone who enjoyed "Rushmore" would likely enjoy "The Graduate" if they haven't already seen it. They are, however, distinctly different films.

This comedy is something of a benchmark in many ways. Not many films of a comedic nature are so socially relevant and of such high quality that they make the A.F.I.'s top ten of all time. The film by many standards is more than just a contemporary comedy. It is quite possibly the best one ever made, given its widespread appeal.

It is well shot with interesting sequences and hilarious segments that hold up against the test of time. It has been a long-time favourite of mine, and I can scarcely imagine growing tired of it.
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"Hello, Benjamin."
BumpyRide7 December 2004
What a wonderful time capsule. Not being old enough to grasp the entire "Swinging 60's" movement, I can't help but think this was pretty true to form to what was going on back then. Dustin Hoffman is of course great, but Ann Bancroft steals the movie, dominating every scene even when she's not in it. It must have been quite a risk for her to not only play an "older woman," especially in age conscious Hollywood, but also to play so much against "type." The music, the clothes, the houses all harken back to when America was discovering not every one lived like Ozzie and Harriet, and that a stiff martini could certainly loosen ones morals. The sexual energy this movie projects oozes across the screen and makes one feel like a voyeur.
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Unforgettable Movie for People of My Generation
claudio_carvalho10 February 2015
After graduating in college, the twenty-year old Benjamin "Ben" Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) returns home and his parents give a party for him. The uptight and clumsy Ben feels uncomfortable and the wife of his father's business partner Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) asks a ride home to him. Soon she seduces the unexperienced Ben and they have a love affair. When Mrs. Robinson's daughter Elaine Robinson (Katharine Ross) returns home, Mrs. Robinson makes Ben to promise that will never date her. But soon Ben and Elaine fall in love with each other affecting the Robinson family.

"The Graduate" is an unforgettable movie for people of my generation. The story is dramatic and funny and Anne Bancroft is perfect in the role of the unbalanced Mrs. Robinson. Despite his actual age (30), Dustin Hoffman is hilarious and convinces in the role of an unexperienced young man seduced by the alcoholic wife of his father's partner. And Katharine Ross is extremely beautiful in the role of Elaine. The wonderful soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel fits perfectly to this great movie. The rushed conclusion is silly but adequate for those years, with the couple in a bus without knowing their destination in the bus and in life. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "A Primeira Noite de um Homem" ("The First Night of a Man")
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A subtle, insightful, multi-layered satire
mailikai18 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Who is Mrs. Robinson? The first time I saw this movie as an adolescent, I didn't ask myself this question. Early on, Mrs. Robinson was sexy and mysterious. I wanted Ben to sleep with her. Then I was ready to forget all about her when Ben met her daughter Elaine. I fell in love with Elaine, and from then on wanted Ben and Elaine to live happily ever after. I started to hate Mrs. Robinson, because she tried to keep them apart. At the end, (spoiler alert!) when the camera shows her silently cursing as Ben breaks up Elaine's shotgun wedding, I felt a vindictive pleasure.

It's different for me now. My mind fixes on the stilted hotel room "conversation" between Mrs. Robinson and Ben. She keeps Ben at arm's length with distant answers to his naive questions about her life. Ben doesn't see her face here, but we do. And we have a chance (one that I missed on my first viewing) to see much more clearly than Ben how much Mrs. Robinson is actually revealing about herself.

She married Mr. Robinson in an era before The Pill and legal abortion. They had sex in Mr. Robinson's Ford and the pregnant, future Mrs. Robinson had little choice. For the sake of petty bourgeois respectability, they got married, and Mrs. Robinson began playing the role assigned to her of wife, mother, and cocktail party attendee.

Mrs. Robinson tragically made a deal with her devil. She will make her husband breakfast every morning. She will smile graciously at social engagements with his business associates and their wives. She will drown her sorrows in alcohol. She will distract herself from her boredom by having an affair with young Benjamin--perhaps not her first. And if anything were to upset the uneasy balance of this, she may be expected to sacrifice her own daughter on the same altar (literally) of social expectations.

Elaine escapes her mother's fate. Mrs. Robinson screams, "It's too late!" as Elaine and Ben are fleeing the church, but Elaine answers, "Not for me!" Too bad nobody tells Mrs. Robinson that it's not too late for her, either.

The only problem with the film is Elaine's character. After Ben stupidly humiliates her at the burlesque club on their first date, we suddenly cut to the now happy couple chatting away at a burger joint. What happened in between? Why didn't Ben's cruel behavior end the date right there? The filmmakers don't seem to know. Elaine runs away with Ben at the end without ever mentioning that it might have hurt her when he broke up her family. It's another inexplicable, unearned forgiveness. What real woman acts like Elaine does in this movie? How could someone so flighty and spineless make the stand that Elaine does at the end of the movie? It's as if the filmmakers, like Ben, don't know how to behave themselves around a pretty girl.

I would understand if this ruins the movie for some viewers. I personally can forgive the filmmakers because, even if they don't understand Elaine, they understand Ben perfectly and show a surprising level of (accidental?) insight into Mrs. Robinson. These strengths, along with a whole series of unforgettable visual moments, help me to appreciate the film's satire and philosophy.

Director Mike Nichols has said that the last scene in the bus was more or less an accident. Bewilderen by Nichols' fierce directions, the actors gradually stopped laughing and started looking around blankly, not knowing what to do next. It was inspired for Nichols to decide to keep these reactions. By getting on that bus, Elaine and Ben made a thrilling getaway. But where are they going? They don't know. They're young and they still have a lot of things to figure out. Hence the stares. This ending alone earns this film "classic" status.

At their age, neither Elaine nor Ben is ready to make any sort of lifelong commitment, let alone the carefully calculated marriage and career commitments that their parents expect them to make. And they sense something artificial, something "plastic", about their world that they find abhorrent. That's the rebellious thread that so many viewers have identified with while watching the movie. Mrs. Robinson's tragedy is the role she reluctantly plays in propping up the institutions that Elaine and Ben rebel against. Mrs. Robinson would stand to gain a lot from the very same freedom that Elaine and Ben seek, but do not know how to find.
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Rather darker than the comedy/drama/romance billed here - but very much worth the ride
pfgpowell-130 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I was remarking to someone just last night that I'd watched Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider only twice and that I saw a completely different film on both occasions. The first time I saw in the Sixties before that decade revealed itself as silly and nasty, it was a fable of 'them' against 'us' and how an older generation would hold out against a younger, more open, more optimistic, more adventurous younger generation.

The second time, at least 30 years on, what struck me was how prescient Dennis Hopper had been about just how superficial and vacuous the so-called 'hippy generation' was for all it's idealism and bravura. In where in that first viewing Peter Fonda was the main character and seemed to be calling the shots, The second time around the main character was definitely they less obviously Dennis Hopper's cynical co-rider.

I mention Easy Rider in a review of Mike Nicholls's The Graduate because much the same occurred: I first saw it when it came out and like everyone else thought it a smart, fresh, witty and often very funny take on young love and how young, sincere live will out whatever. Tonight I saw a very different, in some ways far darker film, one about obsession and loneliness, how the cruel innocence of youth can cut to the quick the soul of someone who has lived a little and learned a little more.

I decided to watch the film again after hearing a radio play on the film's genesis, how producer Lawrence Turman persuaded Nicholls, a respected Broadway director who until then had never made a film, that the novel The Graduate by Charles Webb would make an excellent film. It didn't seem so to anyone else Turman and Nicholls tried to get interested. And even when respected Hollywood heavyweight Joe Levine added his support and the project slowly took off, there were objections to Nicholls's casting decision, particularly having Dustin Hoffman cast as what until then was accepted to be a blonde WASP Benjamin Braddock. But Nicholls held out, having a particular take on the character as being an outsider, just as he, basically a German Jewish immigrant, and Turman, another Jew, were outsiders in Hollywood.

So watch it I did and, as I say, a far darker film revealed itself, one which was not about innocent young love but obsession and loneliness. Take Ben Braddock's behaviour: one can accept his gaucheness in view of his seduction by Mrs Robinson and even his tactlessness to the older woman once the affair is underway can be excused, as indeed Mrs Robinson, a woman of the world, does excuse it. But his subsequent pursuit of Elaine, a girl he barely knows, which could all to easily be mistaken for stalking, is decidedly unhealthy. This is not 'true love' needing to find its way as we once thought, it is the obsession of a young man who knows little about the world, isn't particularly aware and quite probably suffers from a bad case of extreme solipsism.

The film's very final shot is telling: once he has grabbed his prize and he and Elaine have escaped the church wedding and are sitting on the bus off to start life together, it seems to dawn on both very quickly - and apparently from the looks on their faces to concern them - that all they were really interested in was striking a blow against their elders. And that once that had been done - well, what next? They both seem not to have a clue. They do not come across as two young people who have found a soulmate, rather as two young people suddenly overwhelmed by the course of events.

Then there is Mrs Robinson herself, a middle-aged woman (sexily portrayed by Anne Bancroft) caught in a loveless marriage who merely wants to protect her daughter, possibly the one thing she can still cherish in an otherwise empty life, from making the same mistake as herself - her marriage and thus her wealthy but hollow existence was founded on a quick f*ck in the back of her student boyfriend's Ford. Once pregnant she had to give up the art course she obviously enjoyed and it will seem little wonder that she eventually turned to the bottle.

Ben Braddock, of course, the solipsistic young graduate she begins an affair with his wholly oblivious to life outside his own being and doesn't even begin to suspect that his middle- aged lover might be very unhappy and that her pursuit of him has less to do with sex and more to do with a far more personal need.

My take on how much darker the film is than at first we thought, might make it sound rather heavy going, but actually the film is nothing of the kind and to many will seem to be the romantic comedy it was first billed to be. Nicholls has such a light touch and worked with such a witty script that what I seem to discern is merely what might - or might not - be discovered in its depths. Yet I don't think I am being fanciful. Mrs Robinson, possibly a figure of fun to some, is undoubtedly a very unhappy woman, and I for one am uncomfortable with laughing at someone else's unhappiness.

Nicholls theatre background is evident from the film's staging, but is none the worse for that. The film does little but mover from scene to scene, but is saved from any static staginess by some very imaginative camera angles and shots and Nicholls proved himself to have an interesting cinematic eye. If you are young and have never before seen The Graduate, I urge you to see it. If you have seen it before and are considering doing so again after many years, do so: it is a great film which well stands the test of time.
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One of the best photographed films in history!
Rolle-46 February 2005
I saw this film for the first time in September 1968, after working for just one year as a professional cinematographer. I rapidly saw it five more times, in order to observe technical details of the photography of the film, but every time I completely forgot to look at those details, since I became so absorbed by the film every time. Now, after more than 35 years as a cinematographer and film teacher, I still marvel at Mike Nichols' and Robert Surtees' work every time I see the film. Almost everything you can do with a camera can be seen in this film, and everything is perfectly right for the story. The Graduate is groundbreaking in more areas than the photography. The casting, writing, acting, picture and sound editing are all exceptionally good, and have influenced film-making ever since. I was very happy when I saw that The Graduate reached the 7th position in the American Film Institute's voting of the best American films in history.
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Timeless masterpiece
ROSS4152K28 September 2004
Dustin Hoffman is outstanding in his breakthrough role as a troubled young adult who is worried about his future. His awkwardness is endearing and universal. To this day, there are people who can relate to his Ben Braddock.

The music is one of the biggest accomplishments of this film. Simon and Garfunkel perfectly depict Ben's moods throughout the movie with their timeless classics.

Overall, this movie is well-written, well-played, and well-directed. It is a humorous and sensitive account of the difficulties of a young adult. It is definitely worth viewing.
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A Classic
Tsulin10 December 1998
Warning: Spoilers
I'm 16. I am of the world-weary, cynical 90s generation, yadda yadda. Did I like the film? I loved it. It's a film which can speak to young people, regardless of era. How better to depict the pressure, the confusion we sometimes feel, than that scene where Benjamin dons scuba gear and is urged to get in the water...he is pushed into the water repeatedly...finally sinks deep in...

The cinematography is fantastic. The *way* the film was shot...that in itself pushes the film above "average". It's true Benjamin is too naive/plain-crazy to be "real". But Benjamin is supposed to be viewed as a symbol of confused youth, of being unsure...lost. Hoffman was great (though I found it difficult to believe he was a star athlete!). In fact, I think the whole cast was wonderful.

The scene I...remember the best, has to be the last scene. The couple has dashed onto the bus, full of adrenaline, passion. Then they sit down and... are silent. Not even looking at each other. The bus takes them God-knows-where...and the last shot, of their two heads through the back windows of the bus, separate from each of those times you understand the phrase "a picture paints a thousand words".

Oh, and that cross-waving scene is way cool. :)
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"The Graduate" is a Tale of the Sixties. You Had to be There or you Won't Understand.
writerasfilmcritic13 June 2005
Many of the remarks which are critical of this film are coming from people who are too young to have fully understood the mood of the sixties. Young people today embrace the goals of career advancement and material success as all-important, and in that respect, they are much like the older generation of the sixties. The younger generation of that era are, of course, today's older generation. At the time (though it may be hard to tell now), they rejected the values of their parents and were idealistic and Utopian in their approach to life. The generation gap was the biggest issue of the day (aside from the Vietnam War) and it was a recurrent theme in this film. The shallow, cynical, and corrupt older generation were wonderfully depicted by the boozing Robinsons. They wallowed in bourgeois elitism and hypocrisy, an apt theme the extravagant, big band lounge music that Mrs. Robinson puts on after Ben drives her home from the party. Recall, as well, the seemingly off-the-wall advice given to Ben by a man at the party: "One word, son -- plastics!" Actually, it might have been good advice, considering the way things have developed, but it sure didn't seem so at the time. The older generation were "plastic" (artificial and phony), whereas the younger generation strove to be honest and natural, though obviously, few succeeded at it for long. In any case, you had to have been there to fully appreciate and understand these references, which at the time were anything but subtle.

Even though Mrs. Robinson is undeniably a far more sophisticated and sexy woman than her pretty, naive daughter, Elaine represents the unapologetic and uncompromising idealism of the younger generation. Ben, who more than anything wanted his life to be "different" and grew tired of his purely physical relationship with Elaine's mother, just naturally shifted his romantic attachment to her daughter. The movie's score began to play a more important role as he courted her. I don't necessarily agree with those who claim the second part of the movie wasn't as good as the first. Although Ben indeed may have been kidding himself about just how much he loved and needed Elaine, he nevertheless fervently pursued her, and his love for the girl, whether real or imagined, represented what he considered most important in life. This was a real parting of the ways from the values of the older generation, who appeared to place romantic love fairly low on their list of priorities. In fact, without so many examples of their cynical and oft-nauseating attitudes continually in evidence, the movie changed into something else, just as it did in real life when the relatively innocent younger generation tried to experience life on their own terms (which few of them ever succeeded at doing for very long).

"The Graduate" was thus a classic movie that spoke for an entire generation. It is easy to understand why many members of the younger generation of today would be turned off by this movie. They are like the older generation of yesterday (only more so)-- boozing at an early age, driven by a desire to achieve material success above all else, obsessed with gadgets and other ephemeral distractions, and terrified that they might be perceived as "losers," which not coincidentally is the biggest insult they can apply to one another or to members of the older generation of today. Benjamin Braddock would be, to them, "a loser" who didn't know what was important or what he ought to want. When their own kids reach maturity and begin to seek greater meaning and purpose than the emphasis on money and position that is obviously so important to their parents, watch them reject almost everything Generation X stands for. It will be "The Graduate" all over again.
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The Graduate
Delonga2229 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Mike Nichol's The Graduate was a movie that everyone could relate to. The feeling of being thrown out into the world and life just passing you by is overwhelming which is how we find out main character Benjamin feeling. When we first meet him he stares straight ahead with a look that could mean so many things and in fact I felt that through out the movie I could never really tell how he felt except by the change if music and its tempo. I found Hoffman's character hard to grasp except that he is just going through the motions in his monkey suit to make his parents happy.

When Benjamin is on the plane there is a head shot of him staring straight ahead and his head seems to be enveloped by the brilliantly white head rest. I found that shot to be amusing because it showed the innocence that he possessed even after completing four years of college. Benjamin was the prodigal son who did everything to make his parents happy, even when he voiced complaints to his father about the party or the diving suit; he was never heard, throughout the movie his character is ignored until he meets Elaine.

One of the many great scenes that drive the point across that he is lost in his own world where he can only hear himself is when he comes out for his 21st birthday party and his father will not listen to his objections. The audience is taken into the back yard through Benjamin's perspective (his own world) looking through the goggles. All we can hear is his breath and all he can hear is himself which is what he is used to. His breath blocks every body out and he is pushed repeatedly back into the pool by his father. Benjamin decides to stay submerged and avoid reality. This theme of submersion is present in the beginning of the movie when he is looking through the fish tank and watches the fish swim around, they seem so free yet they can only swim so far before they are back where they started.

Benjamin feels alone in the beginning until Mrs. Robinson begins to show an interest in him and pretty soon that white 'halo' from the plane turns to black. As far as the viewer can tell there is no emotional connection between Ben and Mrs. Robinson, he still walks around aimlessly and his manner turns from that of a paranoid youth, like many of us, to an almost cocky young man. An interesting aspect between the relationship of Ben and Mrs. Robinson is the way the gender roles are switched. Ben is interested in involving conversation to their meetings and feels like he is being used while Mrs. Robison just wants to be purely physical. Ben has a more feminine personality then Mrs. Robison because she has so many secrets kept inside.

The romance between Ben and Elaine is somewhat rushed because one second they are in a adult club where Elaine feels insulted and wants nothing to do with Ben, and then the next thing we know they are laughing and getting along and going on another date. The next instance Elaine is being married off yet she does not object. When Ben shows up to the wedding it is hard to say whether she is happy because she loves him or if she is happy because he offers and escape for her. All she can hear is Ben screaming her name, everyone else is blocked out.

They escape from the wedding and the end scene I found leaving me hanging. I would have expected that they would have kissed and lived happily ever after but instead their smiles fade away as they realize they have no idea what will happen next and they are back to the beginning again. The film leaves you wondering what will happen? Will the characters end up happy together? Or are they looking to each other as an escape from the domination of their parents?
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The Graduate
mgannon-427 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The Graduate is about a boy trying to become a man. He has recently graduated from college and has feelings that many of us have felt at some point in our lives. He has no idea what he wants to do for the rest of his life. When he returns home he is greeted by a crowd of excited family friends who he wants nothing to do with. He is uninterested and anxious. However, when the attractive and older Mrs. Robinson attempts to seduce Benjamin Braddock (played by Dustin Hoffman), there is a glimpse of excitement. Benjamin is fully taken care of in regards to monetary things, however he needs something to keep him busy while he figures out the rest of his life.

There is a sense that Benjamin is trapped no matter what he tries to do. Water imagery in the film is a symbol for this entrapment. When his parents make him try out a new scuba suit, he is trapped inside, unable to hear what his family is saying. He is also trapped, and pushed down by his father, under the water in the pool. Benjamin gets up the courage to call Mrs. Robinson and meets her at a hotel. After this sexual encounter with Mrs. Robinson, Benjamin is found lying on a raft above the surface of the water. He can breathe freely and is happier above the water rather than trapped below it.

Benjamin continually acts as though something is wrong. Things are never quit right with Mrs. Robinson. He feels guilty and nervous and this shows through very clearly by how awkward he acts around everyone. Throughout the entire film he refers to this older women as Mrs. Robinson and refuses to call her by her first name even though he is having an affair with her. At one point though, he tries to open up to her and forces her to talk with him. She is not at all interested and it is apparent she only wants him for one thing. The two quickly realize that talking is not for them and return to their previous routine.

Throughout the film Benjamin is uncomfortable with everyone he interacts with, until he meets Elaine, Mrs. Robinson's daughter. His parents force him to ask Elaine out and Mrs. Robinson is very angry with Benjamin for going through with it. However, Benjamin falls in love with her and is again trapped when he has to tell Elaine the truth about her mother. As he is revealing the truth there is rain water pouring down his face; this is just another way in which Benjamin is trapped and suffocated under water.

The ending of the movie seems like the fairytale ending at first glance. He gets the girl and they run away together. However, as they are riding away at the back of a bus they are once again struck with nervousness and uncertainty. There is this overwhelming question they need to figure out – what next? Benjamin ends up exactly where he started and has no idea what he's supposed to do or where he's supposed to go.
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Here's to you, Anne Bancroft!
lee_eisenberg2 July 2005
Anne Bancroft's recent passing brings "The Graduate" back into our minds. It was of course one of my parents' generations favorite movies. Some people may just think of it as a story about young Ben Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) stuck in a weird relationship with the much older Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), but it really is more than that. It embodies America's move away from the innocent, prudish mindset that had held sway for so long. Obviously, Ben is learning about sex from Mrs. Robinson, and then gets interested in her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross). The movie also makes an interesting use of telling us things without anyone talking: in one scene, Ben unbuttons his shirt, which says as much as any words could have. As noted, none of the adults had first names, a reference to the ubiquitous generation gap. Anyway, 1967 was certainly the year in which American movies made a giant step into the new mold, with "The Graduate", "Bonnie and Clyde" and "In the Heat of the Night" (some people might also include "To Sir with Love" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"). "Sound of Silence" may have been "The Graduate"'s theme song, but the movie itself will never go silent.

Oh, and one more thing. It appears that two "Bewitched" cast members appeared in "The Graduate": Alice Ghostley (Esmerelda) and Marion Lorne (Aunt Clara). Although they never appeared together in any "Bewitched" episodes on account of Lorne dying before Ghostley joined the cast, I now have to imagine Esmerelda and Aunt Clara telling Samantha of a strange young man's relationship with an older woman. Well...
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Echo the sounds of Brilliance
Patsandsoxfan26 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
My lasting memory of The Graduate is of the many images of entrapment used throughout the film. Benjamin Braddock is trapped into his life as a college graduate and most of the movie deals with ways in which he escapes this entrapment. Whether it's a torrid affair with his father's law firm partner's wife, or it's the subsequent "engagement" with said wife and partner's daughter, Ben slowly breaks free from his square family's strict rules of conduct and sets off on his own life's trail.

Director Mike Nichols and editor Sam O'Steen (who also edited films like Cool Hand Luke and Chinatown) really tell more of Ben Braddock's story than even Dustin Hoffman does. Let's look at the party scene at the beginning of the film to see some of these images of entrapment created solely by the camera-work. The party begins with Ben alone in his room, and the sounds of the party downstairs can be heard. His room is dark and plainly decorated, and a dartboard hangs quietly on the wall. Ben's father, played by William Daniels, bangs on the door and eventually enters Ben's room to confront his son. He's wondering why a party in honor of the new graduate does not have the graduate in attendance. Ben responds simply that he needs to be alone for a while. The only thing Mr. Braddock can say to convince Ben to come downstairs is that these people at the party have know Ben for most of his life, like Ben owes it to all of them to make an appearance and thank them for always being there, when in reality these people are here more because of their relationships with Ben's parents than they are to support the graduate. Ben's being physically forced by his father to go down to the party, to continue the charade of a life that his parents want him to. All Ben wants, though, is to be alone.

The most memorable scene of entrapment though, is Ben's scuba gear incident at his 21st birthday party. His father has forced Ben to put on this ridiculous diving suit and to stand at the bottom of their pool to show his father's guests how the suit works. Ben is trapped into the suit on his birthday, completely against his wishes, and eventually decides to humor his parents by stepping into the pool. Ben then jumps in and looks back at his father. The frame of the camera is now showing the view from the mask of Ben's father, who proceeds to take his hand, cover the mask, and push Ben down under water. It's as if William Daniels is pushing the camera underwater. Brilliant.

Later in the movie, after Ben is entrenched in the affair with Mrs. Robinson, Ben's spending his days lounging in the pool when his father confronts him, and we see the following exchange, Mr. Braddock: Ben, what are you doing? Benjamin: Well, I would say that I'm just drifting. Here in the pool. Mr. Braddock: Why? Benjamin: Well, it's very comfortable just to drift here. Mr. Braddock: Have you thought about graduate school? Benjamin: No. Mr. Braddock: Would you mind telling me then what those four years of college were for? What was the point of all that hard work? Benjamin: You got me.

Ben's beginning to break away from his parent's traps. He's meeting Mrs. Robinson at the Taft Hotel every night and not explaining to his parents where it is that he leaves to each night. He's literally doing nothing except having his affair and lounging by the pool, and it's been going on for weeks. Where Ben was trapped in the darkness during the beginning of the film he is now soaking in the sunshine, but still he's trapped. Now it's in a torrid affair with a family friend and in his backyard. He's still within his parent's world, and that conflict of trying to be free in that world, free to sleep with the partner's wife and eventually to court the partner's daughter, his freedom is in a world where he's still just a kid. This will be troublesome as the film progresses.

I've not said enough of the editing of Sam O'Steen. Briefly I'll say the montage of Ben moving from his bed to lounging in the pool to laying on top of Mrs. Robinson and back and forth and so on, all set to Simon and Garfunkel's bittersweet symphonies is one of the most well done sequences I've ever seen. The editing tells the story, and that in itself is exciting.

The last scene of the film shows Dustin Hoffman ripping a giant gold cross from a church wall, jamming it into the door to stop Elaine and Carl's wedding party from chasing Ben and Elaine on their escape from their parent's world, and then getting onto a community bus, setting off on a lifetime together. Simple, elegant, brilliant.

...Hello darkness, my old friend ...I've come to talk with you again ...Because a vision softly creeping ...Left its seeds while I was sleeping ...And the vision that was planted in my brain ...Still remains ...Within the sound of silence
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The Scourge of the Sixties
ericcaers25 March 2006
"The Graduate" scourges the shallowness of the sixties, kicks against its smug and sanctimonious middle classes: xenophobic, materialistic and spoiled. Mrs. Robinson is the epitome of the devil-may-care LA bourgeoisie and represents the darker side of America's American Dream that is sedated by pills, desensitized by liquor, mind dulled by television, sanitized by the latest Tupperware and gleaming colors to sugarcoat the humdrum of suburban life (Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word. - Benjamin: Yes, sir. - Mr. McGuire: Are you listening? - Benjamin: Yes, I am. - Mr. McGuire: Plastics.). The adulterous relationship between Mrs. Robinson and Ben is sex for sex only and is cast in terms of indifference, coldness and vulgarity. Mrs. Robinson is like a beast of prey, hungering for sex, absorbing young men's bodies to fight off the specter of old age, hysterically suppressing the anxiety that it causes, keeping her young daughter, whom she regards as her competitor and therefore, adversary, neurotically at bay. The true love between Elaine and Ben, on the other hand, surpasses the tasteless, the absurd and offers hope of a better generation to come (Mr. Braddock: What's the matter? The guests are all downstairs, Ben, waiting to see you. Benjamin: Look, Dad, could you explain to them that I have to be alone for a while? Mr. Braddock: These are all our good friends, Ben. Most of them have known you since, well, practically since you were born. What is it, Ben? Benjamin: I'm just... Mr. Braddock: Worried? Benjamin: Well... Mr. Braddock: About what? Benjamin: I guess about my future. Mr. Braddock: What about it? Benjamin: I don't know... I want it to be... Mr. Braddock: To be what? Benjamin:... Different.) Truly, a bridge over troubled water...
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A true classic
Smells_Like_Cheese8 August 2004
I love this film. I mean I really loved "The Graduate". After all the high reviews, I finally watched it. And may I say it lived up to it's reviews and even higher for me. "The Graduate" is a great film that should be watched by everyone. And Dustin Hoffman is a great performer in the film. I loved the whole seduction scene with him and Mrs. Robbinson. They were both brilliant together. The way Ben reacted to her was very funny. And the marriage scene, how many parodies have I seen? This is a film that should be watched by everyone. I'm not kidding. I would highly recommend it to anyone. One of the best films to come out of the 60's.

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A definitive movie in the 60s
nsutherland-126 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The drama/romance/comedy The Graduate, by director by Mike Nichols, was as exciting to watch as a suspense thriller in the sense that you really couldn't tell where the story was going at any point in the film. From one scene to the next it was awesome to follow what each character would do next. For example, would Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) really have an affair with a woman twice his age? Is he actually falling for a girl whose mother brought him into maturity? I was asking myself questions like these throughout the film.

The opening scene begins with a close up and pulling back shot of the protagonist, Benjamin Braddock. This type of centralizing cinematography seems very useful in elucidating Ben's feelings of being cramped and held in a place he can't get out of. There is an incorporation of "pop" music as Ben is being moved along a set path by a standing escalator. At this time he is having orders being commanded at him from a loudspeaker and it is truly a metaphor for his life. He is a college graduate who doesn't know what he is doing with his future because it seems he has always been told what to do, and how to do it. This is the film's recurring theme, one of youthful alienation and the feeling of entrapment by society. Benjamin had been living a life of preparation, but hasn't seemed to decide on what he is preparing for. This movie depicts his struggles with breaking free from the life he has been made to think is his, and the challenges of finding his own path to follow.

In the beginning, Ben is magnificently melancholy, and the environment of his household only increases his feeling of despair. His parents are overbearingly proud of him, and are waiting on pins and needles to see what he is going to do with his life, but Ben doesn't even feel like he has a life. Then Ben is re-introduced to a family friend, Mrs. Robinson. As an ex-alcoholic seductress, she opens a whole new world to Benjamin, and the way she does it is oh so thrilling to view. She is unbelievably sure of herself, and the means in which she uses her age and figure to solidify her affair with Ben are purely ingenious, and the power she has over him are at times nothing but comedic.

Their affair continues throughout the summer, until Ben is faced with a decision that he has sworn to Mrs. Robinson he has already made, to go on a date with her daughter Elaine. Although he tries his best to give her the cold shoulder, love prevails, and he ends up succumbing to his heart. Everything of course falls apart, because who can really have an affair with someone's mother and not think that everything will come to the surface at some point, especially when one of the parties in the affair develops such animosity towards the other. It is at this point where the theme of water really comes to light. Again and again Benjamin finds his escape in water. Whether he is gazing into his fish tank or submerging himself in his pool this theme of escapism is really apparent to the viewer. Ben is incredibly passive aggressive, and water becomes his safe house. Under the water he can hear no one, and he can be truly alone. He escapes all the pressures that are coming down on him, even if it is only for a brief moment.

At this juncture in the movie Ben really comes into his own. He makes some rash, yet full hearted decisions, and it is revealed to the viewer that he is finally capable of breaking away and doing what he wants. He breaks through his passiveness and makes the journey to claim his love, Elaine. The final scene is extraordinarily energizing. Benjamin crosses a line of no return, striving for the one he loves to the point of breaking up her marriage ceremony. In one of Dustin Hoffman's most memorable scenes, he takes the dive of putting his entire self on the line, and wins! The whole last scene is filled with excitement, yet when the two finally get away they are engulfed in pure solemnity. Which leaves the viewer asking, what's next?
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I don't get it...
yanda_ever16 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The Graduate is about a recent college graduate, Dustin Hoffman, who is unsure about his future and I am left unsure about the movie. The movie is produced and set in the late 60's, probably one of Dustin Hoffman's first movies. Hoffman starts an affair with his dad's business partner's wife, however he falls in love with her daughter and things turn pretty complicated. Because I wasn't very sure how I felt about this movie, I read few reviews on IMDb and to my surprise people are pretty split about this movie as well.

Lets start with what I liked, first I thought tackling the idea of being lost, unsure or worried after college is very impressive for that time. the first half of the movie was intriguing and if you are a recent graduate you will probably connect to Hoffman's situation.

Although I whole heartedly believe that Dustin Hoffman is a brilliant actor, I thought he was okay in the movie, good acting but not really inspiring. Here I must give it to Anne Bancroft, she was the only one who showed extreme professionally in that movie, she was cold and bold and just a pretty good actress. One of my fav scenes was showing how suffocated Hoffman was.

I thought there were good camera angles, lighting, but what I really liked was the editing! for the 60's that movie was really really well edited.

I liked the ending how although Hoffman got what he wanted (or maybe thought he wanted) he had this expression on his face of now what? and the music plays my fav track in the movie (though the rest are as good) The Sound of Silence

OK...lets see what I didn't like. Well, I thought the movie had really shallow parts and thought Katharine Ross was a bit dumb. I literally laughed out loud at the ending scenes were she started running towards him in the church and the close ups of angry faces that were more of cartoon like expressions with no real emotions. I also thought that Hoffman falling in love with Ross was freaking fast, they had one date! And the second day she knows he was sleeping with her mother, and somehow by the end of the movie she forgives him! how will that even be possible?

To wrap it up, I wasn't very interested nor entertained to tell the truth. Yea maybe it was a different movie in the 60's but its not really a classic and I wont recommend it nor do I think it deserves all these Oscar nominations nor being on that top 250 list.
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Stuck in a corner
kwalsh2-126 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Despite having a terribly flawed plot line, The Graduate's actors and direction make this film one to be loved by all. Mike Nichols did an outstanding job with portraying Dustin Hoffman as a confused graduate suffocating from the pressure of the real world after college. The start of the movie shows him going through the motions of life without a motive. Benjamin Braddock desperately tries to find meaning or a purpose in his existence, but ends up settling on the wrong option. Mrs. Robinson seduces him at his lowest point, and when he is vulnerable enough, he gives in to the pressure of boredom by starting an affair.

Water plays a huge role in the image of entrapment that Braddock feels. In the first scene we see a fish tank behind his head symbolizing the contained amount of pressure he feels upon first graduating. However, once Mrs. Robinson throws his keys in the water, showing how she throws him in over his head, Braddock is now shown in his pool. This is a much bigger fish tank to stifle him. The scuba outfit given to him for his birthday provides a comic image of the pressure he is feeling from all angles because he does not know what his future holds for him. There is only a small window with no sound but the heavy breathing apparatus. He is pushed back into the water by his father, which places appropriate blame on where most of the pressure in his life is coming from. The most poignant theme of water was the bathroom scene. He is standing at the mirror shaving with the steam surrounding him. His mother walks in and questions him about what he is doing with his nights. She is cornering him in the steam of the bathroom. Eventually he cuts himself with the razor when the conversation has gotten to the point of his mother being in danger of finding out about the affair. This parallels the people cornering him with questions about his future. He is backed up as far as he can go, until he starts to hurt himself with the affair. By hurting himself, he also ends up hurting those that he loves by losing the trust of his mother, and respect from Elaine.

Nichols direction with this film is incredibly appropriate for depicting Dustin Hoffman's character correctly. There are many scenes where Braddock is shown from afar coming toward the camera, whether it is walking to the hotel room or running to the church. He is the focus of the movie, but the camera, like all of the other people in his life, could care less about him. In sync with the attitude of people in his surroundings, the camera allows people to walk in front of him. At the zoo even the monkeys take precedence over the focus of his face. One of the most powerful images for me was Braddock shown between Mrs. Robinson's legs telling her she's trying to seduce him. Nichols also highlights the mindlessness of the affair with the talking scene. Ben wants to have a conversation with Mrs. Robinson, but she has no interest in him finding out about her shattered life. The light turns on when he realizes why she married him as if a light bulb turns on in his head. After the fight, the lights go off, showing the return to a meaningless relationship.
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Hilarious Story about Not Knowing What's Next
Jared_Andrews3 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The opening scene sets the stage for the remainder of the movie in a few key ways. First, the Simon and Garfunkel song perfectly suits the scene, which is the case each time one of their songs plays. Second, the main character, Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), is filled with uncertainty and doubt, which is the case throughout the movie. Third, the scene takes place at an airport where people often look full of conviction and purpose but are secretly at least a little confused about where they are supposed to be going and are uneasy about going there, which again is the case for the key characters in most scenes throughout the movie.

Ben knows exactly where he is going, but in a metaphorical yet much more real sense he has no idea where he is going. In the airport, he knows where to go. In his life, he does not. Paul Simon wrote "people talking without speaking; people hearing without listening" and he could have easily added "people moving without progressing," but progressing isn't a lyrically fluid word, so he left it out. As usual, Paul Simon was right.

Here's the thing about Ben: he's kind of a doofus. A recent graduate (as you may have guessed), he excelled in college, won some prestigious award, everyone is so proud of him, but he doesn't seem to have a firm grasp of what's going on in the world. Ben is almost less a character and more a caricature of a recent college graduate who is not sure what to do next. Everything Ben does is awkward. He's not a bad guy (though he does some unsavory things); he's just filled with so much uncertainty and self-doubt that he sweats and stumbles his way through any and all things adult. It's an incredible comedic performance by Hoffman. He manages to make the movie hysterically funny despite the dialogue containing virtually zero jokes.

His interactions with the hypnotizing Mrs. Robinson (Ann Bancroft) are comedy gold. She's majestically cool and composed, while Ben barely has the confidence to order himself a drink. Their polar opposite personalities make her seduction of him a beautiful whirlwind of cringey, awkward hilarity that seems to last forever. But in a good way. At least in a good way for us viewers, since we aren't dealing with the awkwardness firsthand.

I cannot stress this enough-Bancroft is magnificent. As one of the first cougars in cinema history, she sets an impossibly high bar. She's sophisticated, beautiful and undoubtedly in charge. She uses Ben as her plaything. Though to be fair to her, he's no victim. He's a willing participant from the beginning.

The first part of the movie parallels Ben's life at the time. It's entertaining as can be but aimless. Then we meet Elaine Robinson (Katharine Ross). She's as beautiful as her mother and as full of uncertainty as Ben. Mrs. Robinson insists that Ben does not take out her daughter on a date. Ben agrees. Then as soon as his parents pressure him to take her out he gives in because he's a pushover doofus.

Here things get interesting as Ben finally talks to someone who understands what he's feeling. He's completely enamored with Elaine. Or at least he thinks he is. He wants to marry her. Or at least he thinks he does. Maybe he's just latching onto these feelings because he finally found some sense of direction for the first time since graduating. He finally knows what to do next.

The ending is perfect. I don't say that lightly. The ending is perfect because it lingers just a little bit longer than most movies normally would. It looks like it's going to be a typical happily ever after fairy tale ending that we have all seen a million times. Then it keeps going. In those final 15 seconds we see the elated smiles fade, reality hitting, and doubt creeping back into the faces of the characters. The movie began with uncertainty, and it ends in uncertainty. Ben faces the same question that has plagued him throughout the story. Now what?
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No Doesn't REALLY Mean No
melissabeman2 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Benjamin Braddock returns home just after graduating college. I gather he is supposed to be playing someone the typical age for graduating college, early twenties, but is very clearly close to 30. Although he is described as a distinguished student, president of the debate club, and a talented athlete, his character's personality does not possess the elements of drive, confidence, dedication, or maturity accomplishing those things would typically take. At a party thrown in his honor by his wealthy parents and their friends to celebrate his accomplishments and welcome him home, he attempts to avoid the event by hiding in his bedroom. When his parents convince him to come downstairs, he demonstrates annoyed indifference to the guests congratulating him and offering him advice. He then ducks out again up to the comfort of his bedroom where Mrs. Robinson- a beautiful woman that in real life is clearly only a few years older than he is, but is unconvincingly playing someone about 20 years his senior- who asks him to drive her home. He does, amid the continued whining he has displayed throughout the entire party.

Once he takes her home, she manipulates him into walking her in and staying with her until her husband arrives home, claiming to be 'afraid' of waiting in the house alone. She then continues to try to seduce him against his objections and clear discomfort. Eventually confronting him naked in a bedroom, ignoring the basic decency of 'no means no' and encouraging him to reach out to her any time for sex. He hears her husband arrive home and flees.

Later though, he reconsiders her offer and decides to ignore her predatory and disrespectful behavior and calls her up to have an affair. They meet at a hotel and he continues to produce a whiny, awkward, monotone energy and she continues to produce a practical, abrupt, impatient attitude. He thinks better of sleeping with a married woman up in the hotel room, so she insults him into having sex with her by indicating he only doesn't want to have sex because he is inadequate as a man rather than any possible moral concerns. So he gives in and has sex with her, presumably to prove that he can.

An overdone by today's standards, but perhaps original in the 60s, montage then plays indicating the passing of time as he continues his emotionally empty affair. As time goes on, his parents encourage him to date Elaine, Mrs. Robinson's daughter. When he tells Mrs. Robinson this, she gets angry and insists he promise her that he will not date her daughter, to which he agrees.

All it takes for him to change his tune is another pushy conversation of encouragement from his parents and he's off to take her on a date. Mrs. Robinson is understandably upset, but he has a plan to ensure the date goes badly. He is incredibly rude to her and takes her to a strip club where he ogles the performer until Elaine starts crying and runs out. Clearly upset by his disrespectful behavior she asks if she has upset him. In order to comfort her, he kisses her which, inexplicably, she welcomes, even though her face is still wet from the tears caused by how badly he treated her. It appears to be more evidence that in this movie, giving clear verbal or non-verbal indications that you do not welcome romantic or sexual attention has no bearing on whether that attention is given. He decides to be nicer to her now, presumably it was a good enough kiss, and they finish the rest of their date. Tears forgotten, she's now sincerely interested. So much so, that it does not faze her in the least that he admits to having recently had an affair with a married woman.

They make another date, but Mrs. Robinson confronts him and insists he must not date her daughter. He refuses, so she threatens that she will tell her daughter of their affair. He sprints to Elaine's bedroom and barges in despite her objections that she isn't dressed. Again, I guess objections are made to be ignored. He starts to tell her there is more to the affair and one sight of her mother's horrified face tells her the rest. She screams for him to get out and in this one instance in the movie he respects her decision and leaves.

But not for long! Even though they have only had one date, he has decided he is in love with her. His illicit affair with her mother and her specific request that he leave her be are but petty obstacles to be completely ignored. He begins stalking her, literally watching her from the bushes. Once she leaves for college, he announces to his overjoyed parents that he and Elaine are getting married. Their joy diminishes quickly when he admits that she hasn't consented to marry him, nor has he even asked. But again, these are but petty details.

He then follows her to college, rents out a room, and continues to stalk her. Eventually he confronts her on a bus ride to meet her date, and in keeping with the overarching theme, ignores her request that he leave, and instead tags along until she meets up with her date, Carl. Later she appears at his room, though it's unclear how she knows where he was staying since the movie doesn't indicate she was counter stalking him, and asks him to leave town. She doesn't want anything to do with him after he raped her mother. He objects that he didn't rape her mother and says that Mrs. Robinson came on to him. Elaine screams and plops down on the bed. He brings her a glass of water and she is instantly mollified, no longer bothered about her mother's violation, and actually apologizes for being so inconsiderate to the man she believes has raped her mother as to have screamed. Before leaving his room, she asks him not to leave town, all concern raised by the rape accusation blissfully forgotten.

She then shows up later at his room and asks him to kiss her. He does and immediately proposes to her and she halfheartedly says she might. This quick turnaround from screaming at him for sexually assaulting her mother to saying she might marry him, despite them having only gone on one date was the most ridiculous and nonsensical part of the movie. Over the next few days, he then constantly pesters her for an official yes. She tells him she is still is unsure and has been considering marrying Carl instead.

Mr. Robinson shows up at his room having found out about Ben's affair with Mrs. Robinson and confronts him. Ben assures Mr. Robinson that he shouldn't be bothered by the affair because it was only about sex and that really he is in love with Elaine. Mr. Robinson isn't comforted by this assertion and tells Ben to stay away from his daughter. Ben speeds to Elaine's dorm and is informed she has left school. Her roommate brings him a letter from Elaine saying that her father is angry and she needs to break off their connection.

Not to be deterred by her wishes, he sets off to confront her in person in true stalker form. At night, he hops a fence and sneaks into her parent's home where he finds Mrs. Robinson rather than Elaine. Mrs. Robinson calls the police and Ben takes off in search of Elaine. He shows up at Carl's frat house and finds out that Carl and Elaine ran off to get married. He lies to a few different people to manipulate them into giving him the location and rushes to stop the wedding. He runs out of gas en route and runs the rest of the way. He is too late to stop the marriage, but makes a huge, awkward scene banging a window and repeatedly screaming Elaine's name. She looks stunned and then screams his name in return.

This seems to be some sort of agreement between them that the fact that the groom literally kissed his bride not moments ago is yet another petty detail immediately and easily ignored. The two fight their way through the crowd of angry wedding guests toward each other with Mr. Robinson attacking Ben and Mrs. Robinson attacking Elaine. Ben then picks up a large decorative cross and starts fighting off the crowd. Yes, that's right, he literally fights off a church full of a now angry mob by swinging a cross at them. They then slip out a door and use the cross to barricade it in a scene that seems more like a cheesy action movie where the hero fights off the mass of bad guys to protect his love rather than a dramedy. The movie ends as they sit next to each other on a bus, riding away from her less than ideal wedding.

Being born in the 80s myself, perhaps I'm missing the nostalgia necessary to make this movie not seem like it was romanticizing making unwelcome sexual overtures. The main characters demonstrate a disturbing and illegal lack of appropriate boundaries- from exposing yourself inappropriately to someone against their objections to literally stalking someone to the extent you take up residence in a new city. But the message is that it's all okay because the other person will really wind up wanting it in the end. Heartwarming.
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Rebelliousness and reality...
moonspinner558 October 2005
I'm not sure why evil, decadent Mrs. Robinson sets her sights on dazed and shy college grad Benjamin Braddock, son of the middle-aged couple she and her husband socialize with; it's never really explained, and neither is Benjamin's sexual past (it's hinted that he's a virgin when they end up in a hotel room together). It's also not explained why Mrs. Robinson definitely does not want Benjamin to get to know her daughter (she's angrily adamant about it, even willing to expose her own affair to prevent the two kids from going out for a drive!). Despite the gaps in the narrative and the lapses in logic (and taste, some might say), "The Graduate" is still a landmark film, crystallizing the helplessness of the '60s. Surprisingly, the ultimate theme of the movie is love--an impulsive, rebellious kind of love, but still the rather old-fashioned notion of love conquering all. And yet this brings up another question: is Benjamin really in love with sweet college girl Elaine or is she just a conquest? Or maybe the best thorn he can stick in Mrs. Robinson's side? Benjmain is told he cannot see her, he cannot have her, and that surely fuels his desire to marry her. The film presents love as the answer, but then (with an amusing, sobering final shot) second-guesses itself. "The Graduate" doesn't dig too deeply, it's lightweight (even with Dustin Hoffman's outburst in the church--the only time the movie gets some fury going), but it does take chances; it wasn't ahead of its time, it just came along at the right time and is still a relevant, glossy modern comedy. ***1/2 from ****
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