Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Movie of the Week – The Graduate

This week’s movie: The Graduate (1967)

Benjamin Braddock has recently graduated from college. Now faced with seemingly endless opportunities, though acutely aware that this notion is unequivocally false, he is lost and unable to face his future in a world that turns innocence and hope into mundane, pessimistic (soul-crushing) apathy and cynicism. There is a sense that if he does not move forward the world cannot corrupt him, but that all changes when he is seduced by one of his parent’s friends, Mrs. Robinson. At first, Benjamin is happy to engage in this affair (as it seems simple and easy); however, when he meets Elaine Robinson, Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, everything changes. Finally, there is something Benjamin wants.

In 1966 director Mike Nichols announced himself as one of the most exciting new auteur filmmakers, taking full advantage of Hollywood’s artistic revolution following the collapse of the production code, with the film Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? His next film, The Graduate, is even better (and he won a Best Director Oscar for it). I think it is his best to date (and it is among my favorite films). Nichols worked with brilliant people on the film, including cinematographer Robert Surtees and production designer Richard Sylbert. Nichols also utilizes the fantastic Simon & Garfunkel album Sounds of Silence to score the film.

Dustin Hoffman stars in the film with Anne Bancroft and Katharine Ross co-starring. William Daniels, Murray Hamilton, and Elizabeth Wilson feature in support.

The Graduate is one of the most artistically influential films for modern filmmakers. Nichols in a sense changed the narrative language of editing to do very interesting and expressive things. The film also perfectly captures the mood of college graduates facing the world, hesitant to actually grow-up. The film blends melancholy and comedy wonderfully, as well – in many ways setting the stage for the rise of the indie dramedy. This is a must-see for all cinema fans.

Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

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