The graduate scene analysis

The Movie The Graduate directed by Mike Nichols is a coming of age story entailing the confusions young adults go through as to whether they actually are adults or still kids. The film attempts to relay a message of innocence being pushed in an unwanted direction through a society filled with expectations and selfishness of an older generation. Nichols does this successfully through using many different symbols throughout the movie such as the use of water.

Water, is the most common symbol in the movie, signifying his overwhelming confusion and being sub-merged in it. This happens when he is leaning against the fish tank in his room during the party when he attempts to think about his future. Then again, on his birthday in his scuba gear when his parents push him into the water, indicating his unwillingness to comply with their demands. The movie also contrasts the two worlds which Benjamin is torn between, a tainted “adult life” which includes the affair with an older woman or her daughter a young and innocent girl. A symbolic image of this is when Benjamin is at the hotel about to enter into the lobby. He opens the door as a group of elderly people walk in but, as he’s about to pass through a group of teenagers who are obviously at their prom walk through too. This displays Benjamin’s questions of belonging very well. As for the editing of the movie, the cross cutting between the two settings of Benjamin’s house and the hotel room where he meets Mrs. Robinson helps us understand and sympathize with Benjamin’s struggle.

The context of this film relates very much to the youth of America during the sixties, when films started to target a college aged consumer. The Graduate along with Bonnie and Clyde and Easy Rider were the first to come out and cashed in at the box office big time. With the huge number of young adults rebelling against their parent’s generation this theme related very well to them all.

Another factor that contributed a great deal to this movie was the music. The soundtrack was done by Simon and Garfunkel which accompanied the theme quite well with The sounds of Silence and Mrs. Robinson. Both which were theme songs of the movie played at crucial parts to either foreshadow or emphasize Benjamin’s on-going struggle. In the opening scene there is a tight shot of Benjamin, making him seem isolated and alone, the shot eventually widens to reveal he is surrounded by people. In the next scene the song The Sound of Silence begins to play which allows us to understand although there are people around he feels alone in the world. The final scene of the movie, when the two lovers run off on the bus is very similar; they do not converse but sit on a bus in silence surrounded by people and the song is heard again. This may be because of a new confusion they are both about to confront becoming adults themselves or maybe Benjamin’s feeling of dissatisfaction of finally attaining what he set out to get.


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