For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!
“The Graduate”– is a comedy-drama about a recent graduate, Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) who doesn’t know what to do with himself now that he is out in ‘the real world’. The scrutiny and pressure mixed with listlessness and concern about a future that is no longer planned is how all graduates feel to some extent. He is seduced by Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the wife of his father’s business partner. He takes out her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross) at the pressure of his parents (which was forbidden by Mrs. Robinson) – and he falls for her, but she breaks it off after learning of his affair with her mother. Ben chases Elaine to Berkeley, where they have reconciliation, but her parents swoop in and force her to marry her college boyfriend. Ben drives to her (how does he never get a speeding or reckless driving ticket in that little red sports car?) and arrives at the church just in time for the kiss announcing them man and wife. Ben gets her attention and she runs off with him, they ride away laughing on a bus, but the shot doesn’t stop until after they have stopped laughing- as the reality of what they have done sinks in.
Ben is not a hero, nor is he ever offered as one. He’s our main character, yes, but he’s a melancholy coward, who runs away from the system that badgers and abuses him, never does he engage it head on. He is in a time between being a boy and a man- he feels a desperate and crippling anxiety about his lack of plans for the future. The tragic beauty of this film is that no battle is fought, no victory has been won. They make their choices, for better or worse- and the bus just drives away.
In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns: