By: Alli Messick
The Graduate is a stretch from the traditional style of movie making. Dustin Hoffman plays a confused college graduate wondering what he is doing with his life. The film’s branch away from the traditional came in part from the almost spot on portrayal of any confused, young person in the 60s. Dustin Hoffman does an admirable job of being a rather innocent, momma’s boy, twenty one year old man, despite his monotonous tone of voice, sounding much like Winnie the Pooh is certain takes. The film gives off an eery vibe that comes from the help of Simon and Garfunkel’s soundtrack. Although fitting at certain parts, the repetition of songs seemed a bit below the capability of creativity.
The Graduate gives the audience the feelings of wonder and disparity, as well as uncomfortableness in some scenes. Benjamin’s lack of faith in his future allows him to accept the possibility of experimenting with Mrs. Robinson, but initially with a respectable attempt to turn away. The uncomfortable look on Benjamin’s face throughout most parts of the film allows the audience to feel the frustration and confusion on Ben’s mind.
Once Ben begins to have an affair with Mrs. Robinson he seems to become less stressed for awhile- lying in the pool all day, smoking. This could be perceived in another way, that he is still just as confused, but more accepting of his life. The film hits the nail on the head of young people and the ability to teeter totter on whether they are happy or approve of what they are doing. It is an uphill climb, and Benjamin finds himself climbing a steep hill when he sees Elaine for the first time in years.
Nichols puts forth much effort in stepping way outside the boundaries of the Hollywood acceptance. The jump shots and mumbling would not have been acceptable in previous years, but he did it, thus continuing to open up a new world to Hollywood. The usage of possibly the not-so-great takes perhaps gives the movie a more realistic and relatable feel that the New Audience grew to love.
The emotional portion of Ben, Mrs. Robinson, and Elaine is extremely powerful and well presented in the film. It does not avoid the awkwardness or complete disapproval because without it, of course, it would be a superficial story line. Spontaneous actions are always intriguing, but the film somewhat depended on Benjamin’s spontaneous actions to the point where it was almost silly.
Love is a strong emotion, and sometimes a quick marriage works, but it is difficult to simply look past the awkward and inappropriate past of Elaine’s mother and Benjamin to appreciate their marriage. Despite them not getting married in the film, it is still too much to think that Elaine could be pulled back in to Ben through marriage talk. Ben’s and Elaine’s desire to run off with each other seems almost too love story-like. This film is not meant to be a love story. It is meant to break the boundaries of movie making and put out real, tangible thoughts and characters that anyone who has ever made a mistake can relate to.
The reliability and entertainment of a young and confused man is a great watch for any audience.