Classics: Mike Nichols's "The Graduate" by mkRukhaya


Movie review of Mike Nichols's "The Graduate

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									Mike Nichols's "The Graduate" (1967) holds the seventh slot in the the American Film Institute's list
ofBest 100 Movies. It deals with the identity crisis of its protagonist, Benjamin Braddock(Dustin
Hoffman). The romantic comedy is based on Charles Webb's 1963 novel The Graduate.After
completing his graduation, Ben comprehends that his life has reached its saturation point. At the age
of 21, he ruminates over a juncture where he fails to determine how to proceed further. The scene at
the beginning evocatively signifies the same: the conveyor belt takes him forward, as he appears
stagnant and passive. Life takes him forward, rather than him taking life forward.

As his parents throw a party to celebrate his graduation, people question him on his future plans. His
is not sure of the same himself. His multifarious talents at college as echoed in his college Year
Book -captain of the cross country club, captain of the debating club, associate editor of the college
newspaper ,managing editor.etc pale into insignificance at the moment. After the party, Mrs.
Robinson (Anne Bancroft), a woman twice his age, on the pretext of driving her home attempts to
seduce him. He finally does succumb to her fancy and they get entangled in a passionate affair.
Innocence gets pitted against experience. Ben seeks companionship in the relationship while Mrs.
Robinson prefers keeping a distance and maintains only physical affinity. Mrs. Robinson is a satire
on the older generation-all the conventional dictates of society and doctrines of custom that has
hypocrisy lurking in its shallowness. The preconceived notions sounded by Ben's parents (William
Daniels and Elizabeth Wilson) represent its fallacies. The guidance and guidelines set by the people
around him, leave him stifled just as in the scene where he wears a diving suit breathing for space.
The blurred vision that we get of him underwater is a self-reflexive, objective one that points to his
perception of himself.

Though he attempts to discover some meaning in living his life through his relationship with Mrs.
Robinson, he fails miserably. He begins dating Elaine (Katharine Ross), Mrs. Robinson's daughter.
Elaine is emblematic of the new generation that truly belongs to him. He finds her to be more open-
minded and level-headed,not bent on predetermined notions of life and relationships. Mr.
Robinson(Murray Hamilton) who entreats with Ben to date Elaine at the beginning of the movie,
threatens him with the consequences of the same at the end. He is infuriated as he comes to
discover Ben's exploits with his wife. Ben is very honest in his approach to Elaine and ultimately
does win over her love. His existentialist dilemma becomes vocal with her, as he finds
companionship with her:" My whole life is a waste; it is nothing." The sense of nihilism in him begins
to vanish as he falls in love with Elaine. Her father insists on her marriage with Carl who would be
just 'right' for her. What is 'right' need not always be the preferred option. It exemplifies the conflict
between sense and emotion. Elaine opts for the latter. The movie ends as Ben and Elaine elope
from her wedding, and board the journey of life in a bus. They appear to be euphoric in each other's
company at the back seat. Though they occupy the backseat, Life does not take a backseat for them

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