on 4 March 2005
I don't know if every generation has one particular film that defines it, but Mike Nichols' "The Graduate" is the one which defines mine. This masterpiece, with its themes of alienation, idealism, social consciousness, cultural and generation gaps, and the extraordinary music of Simon & Garfunkel, brings back strong and poignant memories of life in the late 1960s and early '70s. Many of the issues the movie addresses, however, are still relevant today.
Benjamin Braddock, (superbly portrayed by Dustin Hoffman), has just graduated from college. A confused young man who is awkwardly making the transition between adolescence to adulthood, he is totally unsure of what to do with his future, let alone what to do next. As the film begins, the Braddocks are throwing a party for their son, the successful new grad. All his parents' financially secure and affluent friends are there to celebrate. Benjamin is not one of the happy participants, however. He returns to his room as if it were the womb, and watches the aquarium. It seems as if he longs for comfort and clarity, but doesn't know how to express himself or whom to ask. He attempts to talk with his father to no avail. He will spend much of the summer like this, contemplating the tropical fish and his future - which he sure doesn't want to be "in plastics."
Benjamin is expected to enter the bland suburban Californian society that his folks move in, filled with unhappy relationships, materialistic brinkmanship, and manicured lawns. He doesn't know what he wants to do, but he definitely knows what he doesn't want. Enter the famous Mrs. Robinson, and may I say BRAVO Anne Bancroft! Bored and unfulfilled, she is married to Benjamin's father's business partner. She obviously feels that Ben can temporarily alleviate her situation when she seduces him - or attempts to. He is initially unbelieving and reluctant, but persuadable. Filled with self-loathing, he continues the affair, which only punctuates his ineptness and his emptiness.
Elaine Robinson, (Katherine Ross), daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robinson, is about to come home from college. Benjamin is forbidden to date her, by his lover, who happens to be her mother. Talk about incestuous! Of course the now jaded Benjamin and the fresh, lovely Elaine will go out, fall in love, and you'll have to see the movie for the rest. The conclusion is brilliant.
Anne Bancroft, in her gorgeous prime, is perfect as Mrs. Robinson. She is also sad, sarcastic, manipulative, at times really b*tchy, brittle in her beauty, and vulnerable in the role. If it were real life I would have asked her what she was doing with the virginal nerd, when she could do so much better!
The film holds up so well today, not only because of the brilliant acting, direction and screenplay, but because the Graduate's problems are not dissimilar from what many youths experience now. Nichols won the Best Director award for this movie. His pacing is fluid, and his imagery metaphorical, at times chillingly so. Writers Buck Henry and Calder Willingham, (working from Charles Webb's novel), did a remarkable job with their satirical, off-beat screenplay. Simon and Garfunkel songs, including "Scarborough Fair" and "The Sounds of Silence," give the film a wonderful lyrical tone.
A five-minute interview with Dustin Hoffman and a fascinating documentary "The Graduate at 25" make up the extra features on the DVD, along with a limited edition 64-page book with production notes and a collection of articles and reviews from the original theatrical release.
I remember watching "The Graduate" for the first time in 1968, and really relating. What can I say? I was young! Naive as this may sound, I did identify with the feelings stirred by the movie and performances. I still do, very much...no matter how retro. Now after almost 40 years, this is a classic!
on 31 March 2003
THE GRADUATE is one of my all-time favorites - a memorable classic from the sixties. It is a story about a young man (Dustin Hoffman) who is a recent college graduate facing a bewildering array of life choices. He has an affair with an older woman named Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) while a romance is developing simultaneously between him and Mrs. Robinson's daughter (Katherine Ross). So you know right away this is going to be either a comedy or a tragedy. Actually it has enough elements of both to keep you interested until the climax which is quite creative and guaranteed to leave the viewer feeling satisfied.
The competition for awards in 1967 was tough from the likes of IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT and GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER. Mike Nicholls, however, did manage to win an Oscar for Best Director and nominations were received for Best Actor (Dustin Hoffman), Best Actress (Anne Bancroft), Best Supporting Actress (Katherine Ross), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography.
This is one of the defining films of my generation, and of course I saw it when it came out in 1967. Seeing it again after all these years I was struck by both how funny it is and by the brittle, cynical and brilliant performance by Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson. She really is flawless in a part that might easily lend itself to overacting. Instead she is subtle, controlled, focused, and authentic in a way that is both sexy and chilling with just a hint of ironic humor. The maternal manner with which she treats virginal Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman in a breakout role) emphasizes the creepy, almost incestuous nature of their sterile affair.
Mike Nichols has directed a number of sexual/relationship comedies, including Carnal Knowledge (1971), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), Nora Ephron's Heartburn (1986) and Carrie Fisher's Postcards from the Edge (1990). Nichols's films typically feature talented and charismatic actors and actresses who explore in a deceptively humorous manner the dark side of our human nature. The humor usually has an edgy quality while the taboo elements are somehow resolved into happy endings as in a musical comedy. Nichols likes to work with material from another medium and make it his own. Typically, The Graduate is adapted from the novel by Charles Webb. Nichols also likes to feature cutting edge popular music in the score. What we hear in the background and played over the opening credits is Simon and Garfunkel's "Sounds of Silence." Of course Paul Simon wrote the song "Mrs. Robinson" for this movie, but what I didn't realized until now is his "It's all happening at the zoo" was probably inspired in part by the zoo scene in this film.
Dustin Hoffman's confused and drifting Benjamin, worried about his future and suffocated by his parents' generation, knocked everybody out in those days with his dead-panned, literal delivery of one-liners, some of which were written by Buck Henry, who plays the desk clerk at the rendezvous hotel. I especially loved Ben's answer when his father, enquiring about his Quixotic plan to marry Mrs. Robinson's daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross), asks, "Isn't this a half-baked idea?" In dead seriousness, Benjamin says, "No, sir. It's completely baked."
Memorable is Norman Fell (whom most of us recall from TV's long-running comedy, Three's Company) in a small part as the landlord of the Berkeley rooming house. He is of course a past master at dead-panning one-liners; in fact, he is a master at mute dead-panning. One of the funniest bits in the movie is when the camera catches his face as Elaine's father comes out of Ben's room spewing obscenities and insults at Ben.
What we loved about this movie was the youthful point of view; the wonderful chase scene at the end, a Hollywood staple made fresh; the sympathetic character of Benjamin with whom we could readily identify; the cliché-ridden and shallow parents being slyly made fun of; and the sense of getting what we want out of life and doing it our own way. This is a coming-of-ager and a romance and a social satire rolled into one, and a classic Hollywood movie that no afficionado would want to miss.
But see this for Anne Bancroft, a brilliant and perhaps underrated actress in one of her most memorable roles.
It is, ultimately, the film that signaled a renaissance for a certainly debatable industry by the late 1960's. Such was the surprising subject matter of The Graduate at that point in time that it is no wonder the film is still considered a cult classic today, and has rightly been re-released on Blu-Ray with a restoration, accompanying many other classics that Studio Canal have carefully pumped out at very descent prices.
It is a film that can apply to (or at least touch on) much of the problems that occur as we come of age, hence it was released at a time when 'College-culture' was coming to fruition as we know it today. For our lead character Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman), the mind-set of being a graduate and not knowing what to do with ones life is a dilemma many of us face, or indeed have faced. As such, it doesn't help that at a family party, Mrs Robinson (Anne Bancroft), a friend of Ben's parents decides to take the situation at liberty and immediately offers Ben an ultimatum that, no matter which way he looks, will always resort to a crazy cougar relationship. The build up to the events that follow, as the two go on secret dates and awkwardly have sex in a hotel is both incredibly entertaining as it is touching, which is equally why the film should be appreciated.
Things go from awkward to worse though for Benjamin as he soon realises that the more sensible path would be to date Mrs Robinson's daughter whom his parents very much approve of. Tensions fly, and it soon becomes a battle of wills as Ben attempts cope with the world being on his shoulders. For all the 'education' that he may have gained from Mrs Robinson, he is ultimately compromised by this woman who will go out of her way to ensure Ben never even looks at her daughter, such is her envy of the girls looks and generally off-beat mind-set, though one of the clever ironies of the film which is often overlooked is that, while Mrs Robinson has diverted this sensible young man who did well at College, she herself was once an Art student who went off the rails thanks to a partner of the time. As much as they are both opposites, they are also quite alike.
The film here is presented in its original aspect ratio and has undergone a generally good restoration. The problem when a film does have such a wide aspect ratio is that, as the point of view is often more distant so that more information can be put into the wider frame, I don't feel High Definition transfers look "as" good. This is not to say the film is not worth buying, because as with any other restoration/HD transfer, it still reveals levels of detail and perspective that you won't have seen before on DVD, so at this price there is no reason not to purchase this product. The restoration isn't a Lowry Digital job (the Gold standard), but it still retains the natural film grain and has removed any large defects/dirt in the print. Film judder however still remains.
Along with a nice splattering of extras and some really lovely packaging, The Graduate is a modern classic that will touch the hearts of many and entertain others. I myself was once in a cougar relationship and, after being frustrated with how such a situation can affect your daily life, I was recommended this film. It not only made me feel better in myself, but I could totally sympathize with Ben and I applaud the acting all round for what turns from a thoughtful beginning to a tense finale.
I have provided additional pictures on the top-left of this page.
on 23 March 2006
The Graduate has become a classic film, one that makes all those ‘top 100 film’ lists. It stars a young Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock, a young man from a wealthy family, who has just graduated from college. He is in limbo, unsure of what to do with his time and where life will lead him. The Robinson’s are his parents’ best friends and it is their daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross) who Ben’s parents have earmarked as a partner for their son. However Mrs Robinson (played by a brilliantly predatory Anne Bancroft) has other plans and is set on seducing the naïve young man. When Elaine returns from college, Ben falls for her and ends his relationship with her mother. Predictably Mrs Robinson reacts with hostility and sets out to ruin both his relationship with her daughter and his life.
Simon and Garfunkle provide the music in their inimitable style and the title song, Mrs Robinson, was a huge hit for them. Director Mike Nichols managed, in this film, to capture the feel and mood of the 60’s flawlessly and he deservedly won an Oscar for his work. The DVD itself has few extras, a documentary by the director, interview with Hoffman, some trailers and the usual subtitles. The picture and sound quality are good, what you would expect from the format. This is a film that has stood the test of time and is still worth watching today.
..so queries (co-scriptwriter) Buck Henry’s geeky hotel clerk as Dustin Hoffman’s (still) bewildered 'come of age’ seducee, Benjamin Braddock, wanders 'innocently’ before embarking on his illicit rendezvous with Anne Bancroft’s (married) 'woman of the world’, Mrs Robinson, in Mike Nichols classic 1967 film. Although, on the surface at least, Nichols’ film is a much more 'conventional’ film than other ‘seminal’ works of the period, say, Easy Rider or Bonnie And Clyde, it is no less a compelling watch, primarily due Henry and Calder Willingham’s hilarious (and, at times, Woody Allen-like) script, plus the film’s set of impressive acting turns. To round off the viewing experience, we do, of course, have Simon and Garfunkel’s heavenly songs (The Sound Of Silence, Scarborough Fair, Mrs Robinson) which fit perfectly with the film’s airy, laid-back West Coast USA look (brought to the screen courtesy of Robert Surtees’ evocative cinematography).
I have always thought of Nichols’ film as very much a film of two halves – the first which sets up the Ben/Mrs Robinson 'relationship’ and the second focusing on Ben’s pursuit of daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross). And, although the latter section has some nice moments, plus the exhilarating ending, for me, the first scores more highly. Hoffman’s turn as the clean-cut, but nervy and dumbfounded, graduate is totally convincing (despite the actor being 10 years older than the role) – as he stares into a fish tank, mixed-up about his future, and engaging in inane conversation with his parents’ ‘friends’ ('Ben’, 'Mr McGuire’, 'Ben’, 'Mr McGuire’, 'plastics’ – priceless dialogue). Similarly, each of Elizabeth Wilson, William Daniels and (best of all) Murray Hamilton as, respectively, Ben’s mother and father, and Mr Robinson, exude complacent and 'respectable’ well-being and parental pride, such as in the hilarious scene (like a combination of Woody Allen and Only Fools And Horses) as Ben emerges to the assembled house party masses completely encased in a scuba-diving suit.
Acting honours, though, are undoubtedly stolen by Bancroft’s blasé and self-confident vamp, a bored alcoholic, out looking for 'superficial kicks’ as she lures (the, at first, reluctant) Ben into a series of hotel bedroom encounters and Ben, feeling he should (as encouraged by his 'elders and betters’) 'sow a few wild oats’, eventually complies. Bancroft’s oblivious, 'matter-of-fact’ attitude (receiving an initial kiss and then grope) during the first seduction scene is both hilarious and sad.
Nichols also depicts the hippy, 'flower power’ ambience of the era nicely, particularly during the film’s second half as Ben pursues Elaine to San Francisco (Berkeley), which features some evocative shots of Ben in his Alfa Romeo Spider crossing The Golden Gate Bridge and the memorable ‘first date’ sequence in a strip club. And, of course, Ben’s obsessive behaviour culminates in the film’s memorably intoxicating concluding sequence.
on 30 July 2012
(THE FILM) In his first major film role, Dustin Hoffman, plays an ultra-naïve college graduate who's seduced by a middle-aged woman, played by the scintillating Anne Bancroft, and then falls in love with her daughter.
With the sharpest of scripts and a perfect soundtrack by Simon & Garfunkel, this film was deservedly nominated for 6 Oscars and won Nichols an Academy Award for Best Director.
WHAT CAN I SAY?
This film not only is a great comedy, it is also a great commentary on moral values and the generation gap. At the time it was released, America was in the middle of its own cultural revolution when the youth culture began to question the values of society and rebel against them. Dustin Hoffman is perfectly cast as Benjamin, who is at first naive and then begins to question why he is being used by the much older Mrs. Robinson, brilliantly played by Anne Bancroft.
The film also can be seen as a commentary on the games people play when it comes to sex. At the beginning of the affair, Mrs. Robinson is in control, however she loses that control when Ben meets Elaine and falls in love with her. She then feels that the only way she can regain control of the situation is by telling her daughter about the affair. This film is definitely a great commentary on one of the most turbulent eras of all time.The film that made Hoffman a star. Rarely has he managed to get close to the level of excellence displayed in his fantastic performance. Directed with style and skill by Mike Nichols this film has aged surprisingly well, aided by the wonderful soundtrack.
This Collectors Edition has a bonus of a five-minute interview with Dustin Hoffman, a documentary "The Graduate at 25" which makes interesting watching and a limited edition 64-page book with production notes and a collection of articles and reviews from the original theatrical release. For the cinema historian, these are fascinating additional bonus features BUT the really bonus is owning the DVD which seems to have brushed up well after so long.
Katherine Ross, fresh, lovely Elaine Robinson, Anne Bancroft, the sad, manipulative yet vulnerable Mrs Robinson, William Daniels as her husband and Dustin Hoffman, as the jaded college graduate, play the lead roles.
Charles Webb's novel, with screenplay by Henry and Willingham, and music by Simon and Garfunkel, is a powerful indictment of some elements of 1960s' America and Mike Nichol's direction earned him Best Director award. To some eyes, it will appear dated in almost every aspect, although the individuals may be seen as metaphors of timeless sterotypical characters; other eyes may look back to their youth and remember it with affection, e.g. some scenes, like the scuba-diving present and Mrs Robinson's "Plastics!", are timeless in their humour, while others like the "Elaine! Elaine!" church scene resonate with great depth and the Alpha Romeo breakdown and Hoffman's running to get nowhere show a director and cameraman at their best.
on 26 July 2011
This BLU-RAY review ONLY applies to the Studio Canal release
European released BD presumably taken from a different master than MGM's US release Graduate [Blu-ray]  [US Import].
Colors seem more saturated and balanced in my view (see also blubeaver.ca for a comparison of both BDs)
PS: One thing that struck me as odd: Two over-shoulder-shots of Dustin Hoffman riding his Alfa Spider on the Bay Bridge headed for Berkeley (TC 01:36:58 - 37:22) and going down on 101 to Santa Barbara (01:38:37-58) were NOT anamorphic - TV image only looks ok when set to "4:3" - was it like this in theatres?! If so my guess would be that in 1966/67 when this was shot it simply wasn't practical to mount a (Mitchell?) Cinemascope rig to such tiny Italian convertible going at 70mph with the car top down... So maybe they shot this with a normal lens and "stretched" the image to fit widescreen presentation?
Anyone like to comment? Thanks!
Picture quality: 9/10
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (orig.)
Run time: 1 45'55", 24 fps
Audio: GB;F;D;E (dts HD MA)
Region free !
Bonus (all in SD):
-Graduate at 25; 22'21"
-THE GRADUATE - Looking back; 12'57"
-Meeting with author Charles Webb; 20'13"
-Scene analysis; 12'10" (German with Engl. ST)
-About the music; 7'55" (German with Engl. ST)
-Audio commentary by Prof. Koebner, Univ. of Mainz
-Song selection 4 songs, HD
on 25 November 2009
This film is a major icon of the Sixties, and rightly so. It's sharp and witty, but it's actually quite pessimistic too (as some of the more observant movies of the Sixties were): on the bus at the very end they sit apart looking in opposite directions, not looking happy. The song is "hello darkness". She's going to become an alcoholic like her mother; he's going to go into plastics sooner or later. Perceptive of life's journey then, but a downer.