Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Graduate

I was struck dumb the other day (an easy pose for me) when I saw the release of the special 40th Anniversary edition DVD of The Graduate. I have seen The Graduate maybe 20 times, maybe more. It's one of my favorite films because every time I view it I see something else.

I saw it first when I was about to graduate from high school and I think I identified with Ben in many ways- just being a little confused and wondering what there was in this life, all these adults coming at you with suggestions. I don't know what, as Mrs. Robinson says to him.

The next time I saw it was during my freshman year in Boston at a screening on the Harvard campus. Students were laughing. Laughing! How dare they ruin my film by laughing. Then I realized it was also a comedy and really appreciated the humor in the film. On other viewings I enjoyed it for the images- they way they flowed and the montages of Ben and Mrs. Robinson both before and after he tells Elaine of the affair.

I like any film you can deconstruct from multiple perspectives (for kicks look at Casablanca as a musical, then again as a comedy). One could write a thesis on The Graduate as a musical. Everyone remembers the Simon and Garfunkel music but often overlooked is Dave Grusin's great score and incidental music.

One of the last times I saw the film was just after 9-11 and I was struck by how unaffected Ben and Elaine are by the Vietnam War and the Summer of Love. Nowhere in the film- with the possible exception of Norman Fell asking Ben if he is an "agitator"- is there a reference to hippies and the war. Ben follows Elaine to Berkeley for christsakes. I am almost certain there were protests against the war then and someone on campus had a copy of Sgt. Pepper's or The Doors first record or Are You Experienced. The lack of contemporary cultural references is the one strike against The Graduate.

I care about the film so much my friend Craig tells me that on my tombstone (OK I want to be cremated, but that's another story) it will say, "Here lies PeterH. He didn't get to make The Graduate."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Sorry, I'm catching up.