jespah
 
Reply Sat 9 Nov, 2002 03:50 pm
This one was on TV last night and it never ceases to amaze me.

Last night, I watched it with a more critical eye than usual, e. g. why did the director choose this cut? What's the significance of this song? Why do the people behave the way they do? Etc.

I came up with a few ideas - feel free to pick them apart, of course.

* "The Graduate" is very much a product of its time (1968 if I recall correctly). It's hard to think of it as being possible at a time other than, perhaps, the period of 1966 - 1970. Not only is it because of the quick throwaway line from Norman Fell ("You're not one of those outside agitators, are you?") but also because of the context of the generation gap. It seems to be the best treatment of the generation gap on film.
* But the generations aren't that far apart, really. While Elaine and Ben are so disaffected and directionless that nearly every conversation goes around in circles ("Will you marry me?" "Maybe." etc.), the same can be said of their parents. Mrs. Robinson mainly seduces Ben because she's bored. There's no affection in it. Even Ben admits it was more like shaking hands than anything else.
* Very few people express real emotions in the film. One is shock and anger, such as when Elaine figures out that Ben's older woman is Elaine's own mother, and then later when Elaine realizes her mother has lied to her about Ben. Another, certainly, is love, but Elaine and Ben, except for the penultimate scene in the church, don't seem to be involved in any great passion. As they scream one another's names, it becomes obvious that they do care, and they are important to one another, but on the bus immediately afterwards, they mainly don't even look at each other.
* The only member of the older generation who seems to express any emotions at all is Elaine's father, when he confronts Ben in the rooming house, and tells him that he and Mrs. Robinson will be divorcing. It's hard to say what Mr. Robinson feels, other than maybe indignity at a lack of respect on Ben's part. But at least Mr. Robinson feels affected. Mrs. Robinson is completely hollow inside, and nothing seems to affect her. Even her 'protection' of Elaine from Ben seems to be more of a thing to do than something motivated by love for her daughter or even contempt for her former lover.
* The music is somewhat significant. Mrs. Robinson's theme, of course is "Mrs. Robinson". Elaine's is "Scarborough Fair/Canticle". "Mrs. Robinson" is upbeat and bouncy but with caustic lyrics (you hear the lyrics loud and clear at the end of the film, as Ben has realized he'll do anything to get back with Elaine. The start of the "Mrs. Robinson" lyrics just as Ben is driving out of a tunnel is, I'm sure, no mere coincidence). "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" is a medieval-type fantasy and lovely. The two voices of Simon and Garfunkle entwine beautifully - much like two people's lives entwine when they fall in love. "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" is played whenever Ben observes Elaine from afar, and the lyric "She once was a true love of mine." rings particularly truly.
* I sometimes wonder what happens after the cameras stop rolling, e. g. what's the future of characters in a film after "The End" and the rolling of the credits. It's hard to imagine anyone with a really happy life after the ending of the "The Graduate". The Robinsons divorce, the Braddocks are angry with Ben and on bad terms with their neighbors, and Elaine and Ben may or may not get along in the world but they will either be hopelessly poor or dependent upon the Braddocks. Or maybe Ben just goes into plastics after all.

What do you think of this film?
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Sat 9 Nov, 2002 04:52 pm
You have given some wonderful insights, Jes. I really don't know what to add to it all except for one thing. I agree with you completely that the film is 'very much a product of its time.' It would make no sense if it were set in the 1990s. Yet the amazing thing, for me, is that it doesn'y really age. It is just as watchable today as it was then. Some of the dialogue may seem hopelessly dated, but the angst which permeates the lives of all these people is quite real. At any period in human history. In the 1990s (and today, to some extent) you might substitute 'dot-coms' for 'plastics' and a lightbulb would flash above the head of anyone born since 1968.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sat 9 Nov, 2002 05:09 pm
Merry Andrew- I think that you have hit on the reason that "The Graduate" is such a wonderful film. Although the setting, and some of the issues may be dated, the overall theme is timeless, and universal. That film will be just as relevent in 40 years!
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Raggedyaggie
 
  1  
Reply Sat 9 Nov, 2002 06:36 pm
Jes: Those are wonderful observations.
It's been a long time since I've seen The Graduate, but I remember wondering at the time what their fate would be. I just read in the "Films of Dustin Hoffman" what Director Mike Nichols told some college students (much to their dismay) shortly after the film was released. Nichols said that Ben & Elaine were definitely not going off to make the world a better place to live, or create the first hippie commune, but would rather end up just like their parents in 5 or 10 years.

In the book, Ben arrives just before Elaine marries Carl and carries her off in the nick of time. In the movie the ceremony has already been completed making the challenge "Why don't you just drag me off", (spoken earlier in the film by Elaine) even more exciting and desirable to Ben and Elaine. But their smiles quickly disappear (on the bus), because they have completed their fantasy, and by at last turning the fantasy into reality, they have also destroyed it.

So much for happily ever after. Crying or Very sad
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Sat 9 Nov, 2002 06:40 pm
Broadway did think it was timeless enough to bring it back as a stage vehicle -- with a nude scene that gained a lot of notoriety.

The film along with "Carnal Knowledge" and "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice" broke into ground previously confined to foreign films. I'll never forget going to the Vogue theater in Hollywood to see my first French film -- with a scene of a man and woman in the same bed! Holy Moly!

The relationships explored in the film are still provocative and engrossing. I can't think of many films with acting of this calibre -- it's totally amazing to watch these actors get into the psyche of their characters. I am surprised it isn't on Ebert's list, or at least not in the book. I have a feeling it will eventually show up as there are films added from time to time on the Ebert website.

The film that grabbed me with the same depth of ideas about relationships as this film in a different environment and characterization was "Choose Me."
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hebba
 
  1  
Reply Sun 10 Nov, 2002 04:50 am
I saw this movie again recently on the big screen and I still love it.It should be there in my "Digging The Sixties" list.
I think all four of the parents are magnificent characters.Mr.Robinson especially.His "Ben,Ben,how long have we known eachother" giving the lad some advice scene is excellent.Bens squeaks are hysterical and it really IS great advice he gets:take some time off,have some fun etc so Ben goes and cuckolds him and drags his daughter away from the altar!!60´s gratitude at it´s best.
Anyone ever notice Richard Dreyfuss in there?
"You want I should call the cops?I`ll call the cops"
I always used to wonder what happens to his little Alfa Romeo when I was a lad but now I really don´t care any more.
"Mrs Robinson I think you´re the most attractive of all my parents friends" is still my favourite quote from the film.
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 10 Nov, 2002 06:55 am
I agree about the acting. Anne Bancroft is just so unbelievably perfect, it makes me want to - cry? scream like Elaine? I don't know but that doesn't make Ms. Bancroft any less perfect. hebba - that's a great quote. I also love the wedding scene: "It's too late!" "Not for me!" That gets me every time.

I have heard of the stage version but I just think some things shouldn't be tampered with. I don't even see why a nude scene is necessary (other than for shock value). If you want Mrs. Robinson to be truly inapproachable, and for their sex to be like shaking hands, then she can't completely let herself go in any way. Her being naked (with its inherent vulnerability) seems completely out of character. Plus she's eminently practical. Wouldn't she just remove whatever got in the way and keep everything else on, so that she could get dressed more quickly?

Raggedy - I agree, I think they are headed down that same road as their parents. The wedding/bus scene doesn't even provide the audience with the satisfaction of a big-screen kiss. They do laugh a little at what happened, but that's it. I don't believe they're even holding hands as the bus drives off to an uncertain future.

Ha, dot-coms instead of plastics. Yep, that fits. :-D
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Sun 10 Nov, 2002 09:19 am
The final bus scene is mirrored in "Choose Me" and the David Carradine/Leslie Ann Warren couple have that final perplexed look like "now what?" The acting is equally intense in that film, Genvieve Bujold giving her best performance ever in film.

I'm not sure how the nude scene worked into the context of the story on stage but the production did received good reviews. Also not sure what, if any, changes were made to the plot but I don't see how or why it would be "updated." I'm not sure this would be such an isolated circumstance for a young man -- or for any of ther other characters. It's been approached more than once in film but not nearly as potently dramatic and even comedic as "The Graduate." What a time for American film -- the studios had started practicing "if you can't beat them, join them" by producing TV shows but to get the public into the movie theaters, they had to become controversial and began addressing real life instead of the usual imaginary life of make believe Hollywood. It's always going to be an extremely entertaining movie to watch.
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JoanneDorel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 10 Nov, 2002 03:25 pm
I loved this movie. Some triva about it. They closed the Bay Bridge to show Ben driving into Berkeley in his TR3. The top deck of the Bay Bridge runs east to west into the city from Oakland.
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mac11
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Nov, 2002 09:23 am
My favorite trivia about The Graduate is that Anne Bancroft is only 6 years older than Dustin Hoffman! He was 30 and she was 36 at the time it was filmed...
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Raggedyaggie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Nov, 2002 09:54 am
Great trivia Macsm11. And a hearty WELCOME. But you need an Avatar so we can see what you look like. Very Happy

I've been trying to remember the name of the actress who played Mrs. Robinson on stage. Kathleen Turner keeps coming to mind, but something tells me I'm wrong about that. Does anyone know?
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Nov, 2002 10:01 am
I had a wonderful experience with this movie. The first time i saw it, i was on my way from Illinois, where i was in University, to Virginia, to visit my father--this was in 1968. I had stopped in Huntington, West Virginia, and gotten a motel room for the night. I went to a pool hall, but the locals were pretty much hostile to an outsider, so i couldn't get a good game up, and wandered off. I passed a theater, which had The Graduate on the marquee. So i went in, and found a good seat. The theatre filled up with young couples, of high school and college age, the boys in suits and ties, the girls in formals, as though they were off to the prom after the movie--very conservative, "middle America." Well, i found the movie immensely entertaining. I laughed loudly at the humor, and couples got up and moved away from me. The only other person i observed in the theater who laughed was a middle-aged woman who was, apparently, alone. When the movie let, all of those couples left, either in silence, or whispering heatedly to one another. I've never seen such a large body of people so profoundly shocked. The audience was fully as enteraining as the movie.
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mac11
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Nov, 2002 10:09 am
Kathleen Turner is playing Mrs. Robinson in the Broadway production. This is her last week in the show...
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Nov, 2002 10:12 am
Welcome macsm!

Lorraine Bracco from "The Sopranos" takes over on November 19th.
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Nov, 2002 11:12 am
Welcome, macsm11! Ha, Setanta, that reminds me of going to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Mesa, AZ (in 1980) and everyone shushing me as I kept talking back to the screen.

... all of which reminds me - this might be a good topic for a thread - viewing a film, either at home or in a theatre, and either alone or with others. Does it change your enjoyment level? Anyone can feel free to post that as a question (I have moderator-type stuff to do plus lunch beckons :-D). Thanks!
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Ethel2
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Nov, 2002 11:27 am
Welcome Setanta and Jespah to the land of the closed, conservative mind. Going to the movies in these locations is a very different experience that seeing a movie in New York on Time square, for instance. The audience experience is alive. It's magnificient.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Nov, 2002 11:30 am
Lola, i'll bet a lotta them there boys and girls had impure thoughts that night . . . HA ! ! !

heeheeheeheeheehee

okbye
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Nov, 2002 12:53 pm
The Graduate was the first "adult" movie I saw in a theater (I was 13) and, needless to say, it caused a great impact on me. I liked the plot, the acting, the music, everything.

It is both a dated and a timeless movie. Dated, because it shows the moors of it's times. Timeless, because it skillfully reenacts a universal story and because the ending is absolutely wonderful, reflecting dreams of young people for generations and generations.
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JoanneDorel
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Nov, 2002 03:34 pm
I never knew that macsm11, great bit of information.
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Ethel2
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Nov, 2002 04:49 pm
OK, I have a bit more time now to contribute something. I loved this movie when it came out and I still do. I've seen it several times in my life and the last time I rented it on DVD which included contemporary interviews about the movie with Dustin Hoffman, Mike Nichols, Buck Henry and Katharine Ross. Interesting to see them as they look today. So if you rent the DVD, look for the one with the extra stuff on it.

Hi macsm11, glad you made it to join us all here. Interesting little known fact about Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman.
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