← Back to Reviews
\

The Graduate (1967)

Director: Mike Nichols
Writers: Calder Willingham & Buck Henry (screenplay)
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross
Genre: Comedy, Drama


As I was watching this I realized it was more than just a coming of age movie. The Graduate is an anthem to a generation. In 1967 the Baby Boomers were entering into adult hood, and there were millions of them! The were the biggest single generation ever known, Baby Boomers were born right after the returning WWII soldiers got busy and made babies and made babies and made babies. It was a huge spike in the birth rate in America during the mid 1940s to the late 1950s...And this film is symbolic of the Baby Boomers and their changing values, which was called the Generation Gap.

The film shows Ben (Dustin Hoffman) as being adrift in life and questioning the established order of things. Ben doesn't want the status quo, he doesn't know what he wants out of life.

In the opening scenes the director switches from showing him alone and isolated (like in the photo I used) to the party scene that shows extreme close ups of adults grabbing and pulling him all different directions. The adults in the film are all called Mr or Mrs while the young people go by their first names, emphasizing the Generation Gap. The adults advise him to go to Graduate School, to get into plastics as a career, they want him to be like them.

Symbolically there was a generational war going on in the 1960s with the baby boomers emerging self awareness movement...with 'hippies' at the fore, which put the younger generation at odds with society (their parents generation). And that's what the film explores.
Today it's hard for us to feel that aspect of the film, but back in 1967 young people felt this movie gave them a voice. That what made it so important.

I didn't like Dustin Hoffman's performance. He seemed to be acting as if he was mentally slow. He played it too odd and too geeky. I mean after he touches Mrs Robinson's breast he starts banging his head into the wall, like he's having a break down. And yet in the movie he's suppose to be the Captain of a sports team, just graduated from college and from a rich home.
That kind of person would be more self confident than the way Hoffman plays it.