Ponder Picks: The Graduate

The Graduate    Mike Nichols: 1967

The Graduate

Mike Nichols: 1967

If you are into promiscuity, beautiful cinematography, and raw comedy, Mike Nichols', The Graduate, will suit you wonderfully. Released in 1967, and still a highly regarded film, The Graduate depicts the “coming of age ” theme through emotions of a college graduate. The cinematographer, Robert Surtees, uses cast shadows, contrasting whites, and blacks to show Benjamin’s (main character) uncertainty in the choices he will make as an adult. Surtees’ use of white is a reoccurring symbol of innocence and inexperience. In this film Benjamin faces affairs, confusion, and love. I would imagine his cougar of a family friend; Mrs. Robinson would serve as quite the distraction in Benjamin’s life plans.

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Armed with a soundtrack that could sensitize even the dullest of people, The Graduate has become one of my favorites. The film’s soundtrack consists entirely of music by the folk-rock duo, Simon and Garfunckel. The affecting tones go splendidly with the characterization of the characters through the film’s cinematography. Tracking shots at parties, uncomfortable close-ups, and the iconic shot-through-the-legs, all convey meaning in Benjamin’s life. Perhaps most important are the lighting techniques used to show confusion in Benjamin’s decisions. Mrs. Robinson’s sly and seductive demeanor influences him in his most regretful actions. Benjamin is seen silhouetted in darkness on a number of occasions to elucidate his feelings of indecisiveness. Through Benjamin’s reflections he finds meaning behind his morals and purpose in his future. This masterpiece comments primarily on the realities of growing into an adult and the sort of complications life may throw at us. Only on rare occasions may we have our own Mrs. Robinson.


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