Golden Token: The Graduate
I’ve heard a lot of people tell me that J.D. Salinger’s book, The Catcher in the Rye, was their guide throughout adolescence. It is a right of passage, a guide to understanding what was happening to you as you made the change from being the carefree kid, who wanted simply to play and put off homework, to a teen who suddenly cared about being in a social group, and thinking about love, and crushes.
I for one have never read the book, and honestly don’t have plans to do so in the near future, but that doesn’t mean I can’t relate. If The Catcher in the Rye is supposed to be the book that every teen must read, then my friends, The Graduate is the movie that every college student must watch.
The story follows a character named Benjamin Braddock (starring Dustin Hoffman in his first major role), a recent university graduate with no well-defined aim in life, who is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson. This sparks a whirlwind change in Benjamin, and the situation becomes even more complicated when he meets Mrs. Robinson‘s daughter, Elaine.
This was the movie that spoke to me, and really resonated with my own personal experiences. At one point in all our lives, somewhere between the time where we leave high school, push through college, and go out into the real world, we go through a change. Benjamin Braddock embodied that. When he came back home from the University, he was scared, overwhelmed, and stupid about the real world. And this story chronicled one path (not necessarily the best path) to understanding what the world is like outside of the walls of the school.
I’m not gonna review this, like the other movies I’ve done before, because I’m biased with this movie (as well as every other film I’ll be putting up under the “Golden Token” section). So instead, I’m just gonna tell you why I think you should watch it. Hope its all good with you!
Reasons to watch:
1) Dustin Hoffman
This was Dustin Hoffman’s first huge role, and critically, one of his best. It was after watching this movie that I called him the best actor to ever come out of Hollywood, in my opinion. He brought realism to the role, and he brought to life all the stages of Benjamin Braddock‘s life. As the film progresses, Benjamin changes just as vividly, in no small part to the man portraying him.
2) The Robinsons
The characters are so colorful that they really drive the plot. I mean, the interaction that Benjamin has with each member of the Robinson family is memorable, and ties the story in so well, be it Mr. Robinson, being the cool uncle telling Benjamin to go out and “sow a few wild oats”, or Mrs. Robinson, with her sexy and determined demeanor, or Elaine Robinson, with beautiful, sweet eyes and a personality to match. This family is such an interesting group of supporting characters and add so many dimensions to the story, that they define what a supporting character is supposed to be.
3) The Cinematography
Just a brief backgrounder, The graduate came out in a time when European cinema finally hit Hollywood. Montages, artistic framing, non-set/studio filming, extreme close-ups, these were all new in the 60’s. And before Spielberg, Lucas, and the rest of the Blockbuster creators could perfect it, Hollywood went through the experimental phases. The Graduate was one of them.
There are so many brilliant shots in this film, its hard to count. It is a feast for the eyes, and one of the first times when the camera helped to tell the story. The camera in this film was very much like its very own character. There is this one scene near the beginning where Benjamin is framed in the shot by the legs of Mrs. Robinson, and it tells you how trapped he feels in that situation. There are a lot more of these scenes and I think you’ll have a fun time finding them out on your own.
4) The Story
In one way or another, this movie will feel both very fresh and very familiar to you, because that is how the story unravels. It is a storyline that we know very well, but the way he deals with it, brings to light things about the experience that we’ve never seen before.
*Sigh*, its not easy talking about how great a story is without telling you the story, but I think I summed it up as well as I am able.
This movie, if you haven’t seen it yet, is by far one of the best to be put on film. And even though I know a couple of people who went out of their way to thank me for telling them about The Graduate, I have yet to come across someone who has told me he regretted watching it.
So, I hope, if you have the time, you check out this movie. It could change your life.