February 13th: The Graduate

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Release Date: 1967
Director: Mike Nichols
Why I picked this: I’ve been wanting to watch this for sometime

A protagonist that many can relate to and a great soundtrack from Simon and Garfunkel were enough to make me love the movie, but it was also very well shot and well directed. Starring Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin, a recent college graduate who is unsure what to do with the rest of his life, is seduced by Mrs. Robinson, played by Anne Bancroft. It has the elements of a coming-of-age film, though the subject here is much older than other subjects of the genre. Benjamin is innocent, inept at times, and can even act quite irrationally; yet it is easy to relate to his aimlessness. He was successful in his academics and activities, and yet after graduating, feels much confusion and dissatisfaction. Confusion and aimlessness is the main theme of this movie, and these themes are very well conveyed in various dialogue-less montages set to songs by Simon and Garfunkel, such as the opening scene at the airport set to “The Sound of Silence.” Dustin Hoffman really brings the character to life; he says much with just his body language, and conveys the nervousness and uncertainty of Benjamin successfully. The movie has funny and clever dialogue, but much humor is from Benjamin’s composure during awkward situations. Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson and Katharine Ross as her daughter Elaine both play off Dustin Hoffman very well in emotional performances; these are characters that can be sympathized with. I certainly loved the direction of the movie; shots were very well thought out and well framed. Many shots are like photographs; they say a thousand words alone, and they work well in conjunction with the cast’s performances. The last shot of the movie is perfect. Some shots cleverly used reflections, and probably one of the more famous scenes has Mrs. Robinson’s leg arched over Benjamin. But some of my favorite shots had Benjamin at the far end while having an empty background, such as water or a wall, conveying his sense of aimlessness. Mrs. Robinson appears face uncertainty and displeasure with her life as well, but handles it in a very different way. While the relationship between Elaine and Benjamin wasn’t as complex, it was still one I liked to see evolve. Besides the three principal characters, there was no one else significant in the cast, but these three carried the movie extremely well.

It contains themes relatable to all young adults; its direction and writing is further enhanced by great acting from the three leads and a fitting soundtrack from Simon and Garfunkel.

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