25 June 2008

Spotlight: The Graduate, 1967

Image and video hosting by TinyPic One of my favorite movies. Starring Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, and Katharine Ross, The Graduate is a dramedy about a college graduate, Benjamin Braddock (Hoffman) who has an affair with his father's partner's wife, Mrs. Robinson (Bancroft), and then falls in love with their daughter Elaine (Ross). SPOILER ALERT! If you don't want to know the details of this movie, I suggest skipping this part. Image and video hosting by TinyPic The seduction. After coming back from Berkeley, Benjamin Braddock is terribly worried about his future. His proud parents throw a party honoring him, and their neighbors, the Robinsons are there to congratulate him. Mrs. Robinson cons Ben into driving her home, where he is offered a drink and also where he thinks the older woman is trying to seduce him. Her plans for "seduction" are thrown off when her husband returns home earlier than expected. The pair start meeting frequently at the Taft Hotel, to hide from people who may know them. Benjamin starts to get lazy over the course of the affair, staying out through the night and then coming back and floating in his parents pool for hours on end. Elaine, the Robinson's daughter comes home from college and Ben's parents make him take her out on a date. Mrs. Robinson is very against this, but Ben has no choice. He takes her to a strip club remembering that his lover doesn't want this date to happen, where he then sees that Elaine is humiliated. After realizing how mean he has been, he apologizes and they start dating. Mrs. Robinson is angry at Benjamin for leaving her, and Ben tells the truth to Elaine who is disgusted. Ben finally stops the affair after an encounter with Mr. Robinson, and goes to save Elaine from an "arranged" marriage by her parents. After Elaine and her fiance Carl say I do, Ben interrupts the service and the two run from the church to catch a bus headed for a place they don't know of to start a life together. Image and video hosting by TinyPic Elaine and Ben after the bad-gone-good date. This film was groundbreaking. Instead of a non-verbal score, director Mike Nichols used Simon & Garfunkel songs to illustrate Benjamin's insecurities about his affair and his future. "It's very clear with Nichols in The Graduate, that the approach musically needed to be different," said film music historian Jon Burlingame. "The old fashioned '50 guys in an orchestra playing' concept was not going to work for this movie." At the time of filming, Paul Simon was working on a song called "Mrs. Roosevelt." Director Nichols thought 'Roosevelt, Robinson...' and the song "Mrs. Robinson" was included in the movie. Burlingame adds, "There are long stretches in the movie where there's no music, so when you hear "Sounds of Silence" or "Scarborough Fair" come out of long periods of silence, it really makes a dramatic impact." Image and video hosting by TinyPic Running away from the wedding. The movie was also filled with taboo subjects. The thought of a young college grad having an affair with a married woman didn't flow very well with older viewers, although this movie signified a generation gap between teens/20 somethings and 40 somethings along with the rise of the hippie era. Image and video hosting by TinyPic I love all of the detail that the director paid attention to. Mrs. Robinson was viewed as the cougar who was having an affair with a younger man, so Nichols dressed her in animal prints throughout the movie. In the seduction scene, he put her in a zebra print dress with several plants in the background to create the ultimate scene. Mrs. Robinson is viewed as the predator in her jungle while Ben is her prey. Image and video hosting by TinyPic What does the future hold for these two? It's up to you to decide. All screencaps by me; Jon Burlingame interview provided by special features on the DVD disc.

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