The 50 Movies Project is a personal “marathon” of mine. In June, I compiled a list of 50 movies that I felt I needed to see by the end of the year. Old, new, foreign, English — it doesn’t matter. These are all movies that I have heard a lot about and have been wanting to see for some time. This project gives me a way to stay focused on the goal.
The Graduate 
Director: Mike Nichols
The Graduate is a film that I was introduced to in my college’s Music In Film class. We discussed the movie thanks to its soundtrack’s meteoric rise to the top of the Billboard charts. Simon & Garfunkel were responsible for the music, and the film’s popularity helped propel them even further into the folk music canon. There’s no question the movie was a smashing success.
Looking back at it 44 years later is rather interesting. It is almost as if opening a time capsule, as this is a fascinating portrait of the restlessness of 60s youth.
Dustin Hoffman is incredible as Benjamin Braddock, the 21-year-old college graduate who comes back home with seemingly no direction in his life. His summer takes a drastic turn after he is seduced by Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the 40-something wife of his father’s business partner. The initial awkward encounters between the two are priceless, but their casual relationship succeeds, at first anyway. This changes when Ben later begins dating her daughter, Elaine (Katharine Ross), and soon everything spirals out of control.
The relations between Benjamin and the mother were the highlights of the film for me, especially as we got to know more about the complex character of Mrs. Robinson. The movie takes an entirely different direction once he begins falling for Elaine, however, and I felt like this dragged on a bit, at least until the brilliant end scene.
I liked director Mike Nichols’ use of “gimmicky” camera angles, such as the first-person perspective from inside Ben’s scuba gear. These dynamic perspectives helped keep things fresh throughout, and added to the movie’s charm.
Simon & Garfunkel’s soundtrack is excellent, especially as a signature of the times. “The Sound of Silence” and “Mrs. Robinson” are absolute classics, even if Nichols tended to overplay them throughout the movie (especially “Scarborough Fair”, which was played over and over again near the end).
I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed The Graduate overall. Even today, as a fairly recent college graduate myself, I can relate to Benjamin’s uneasiness. Leaving the sanctuary of school is scary at first, especially when you still don’t know what you want to do with your life. Hell, I’m still figuring this out three years later.
In a nutshell, The Graduate is still relevant today, and it is a very well-made and enjoyable movie even with the minor annoyances.