Presentation on theme: "Every generation says it won't happen to them. "I'm not going to be like my parents. I'm not going to sell out my dreams." Breaking away from your parents,"— Presentation transcript:
Every generation says it won't happen to them. "I'm not going to be like my parents. I'm not going to sell out my dreams." Breaking away from your parents, establishing your own identity, holding on to what you know to be true - these issues are timeless ones - and ones that came blazing into the open in the Sixties. No film captured this better than the The Graduate. In a world of crushed dreams, Benjamin Braddock finds the meaning of having true love: Life itself.
The theme of an innocent and confused youth who is exploited, mis-directed, seduced (literally and figuratively) and betrayed by a corrupt, decadent,and discredited older generation …captured the spirit of the times. This is Benjamin. He's a little worried about his future.
The Graduate is one of the most important films of the late 1960's. Through it, Hollywood discovered that the "misunderstood youth" of years past, from the Holden Caulfields to the James Deans, were no longer teenagers. Alienation had gone to college, and for much of the next decade, those who made films about youth in America concerned themselves with the problems and priorities of men and women between the ages of twenty and thirty.
Benjamin Braddock is an upper-middle-class young man from Southern California who has just graduated from an Eastern college, and is not yet ready to face adult life, which he regards as a game with rules that do not make much sense. The film opens with a close-up of Benjamin's impassive face (Nichols uses these close-ups continually throughout the first part of the film); his blank expression mirrors his feeling of emptiness while Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel's "The Sounds of Silence" plays on the soundtrack, reinforcing the impression of Benjamin's alienation from his surroundings.
...And in the naked light I saw, ten thousand people, maybe more. People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening. People writing songs that voices never shared, no one dared disturb the sound of silence...
Ben’s alienation: I've had this feeling ever since I graduated. This kind of compulsion that I have to be rude all the time...It's like I was playing some kind of game, but the rules don't make any sense to me. They're being made up by all the wrong people. I mean no one makes them up. They seem to make themselves up.
Ben is alienated from the present and uncertain about the future Ben: I'm just... Mr. Braddock:...worried? Ben: Well... Mr. Braddock: About what? Ben: I guess about my future. Mr. Braddock: What about it? Ben: I don't know. I want it to be... Mr. Braddock:...to be what? Ben:...Different.
Guests: We're all so proud of you, proud, proud, proud, proud, proud, proud, proud. What are you going to do now? Ben: I was going to go upstairs for a minute. Guest: I meant with your future, your life. Ben: Well, that's a little hard to say.
Mr. Braddock: Ben, what are you doing? Ben: Well, I would say that I'm just drifting here in the pool. Mr. Braddock: Why? Ben: Well, it's very comfortable just to drift here. Mr. Braddock: Have you thought about graduate school? Ben: No. Mr. Braddock: Would you mind telling me then what those four years of college were for? What was the point of all that hard work? Ben: You got me.
The coventional options don’t look good: Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you - just one word. Ben: Yes sir. Mr. McGuire: Are you listening? Ben: Yes I am. Mr. McGuire: 'Plastics.' Ben: Exactly how do you mean? Mr. McGuire: There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it? Ben: Yes I will. Mr. McGuire: Shh! Enough said. That's a deal.
Ben is an older version of Jim Stark. “You’ve got to do something” but Ben hasn’t a clue what it is. But it isn’t plastics. Plastics would become a favorite sixties metaphor for what is not natural which=what is not good & a metaphor for the artificiality of the dominant culture & of people who follow scripts instead of their hearts The people bowed and prayed to the neon God they made.
Ben can’t hear the positive side of his intuition--he knows he wants his life to be “different” but he doesn’t know in what way. Emerson wrote in his journal when he was 20, accusing himself: “You will sleep out life in this desperate reverie-- the purposes for which you live unsought, unfound”
Because he is aimless and drifting, he finds himself involved in an affair with Mrs. Robinson A metaphor for the kind of meaninglessness that can happen to someone who has no inner compass, who has lost touch with his intuition. Ben can faintly hear his intutition--that’s why he’s alienated. But he can only hear the negative side: what is wrong for him Not the positive side: what is right for him
From Mike Nichols’ romantic point of view, the problem with Ben’s affair isn’t that it’s immoral. It’s that it’s superficial, meaningless, it has no genuine emotion involved. They don’t connect at a human level--witness Benjamin’s painful attempts to have a conversation. They just use each other for sex. He doesn’t even call her by her first name..
I think it was the story of a not particularly bright, not particularly remarkable but worthy kid drowning among objects and things, committing moral suicide by allowing himself to be used finally like an object or a thing by Mrs. Robinson, because he doesn't have the moral or intellectual resources to do what a large percentage of other kids like him do - to rebel, to march, to demonstrate, to turn on. Just drowning. –--director Mike Nichols
Mrs. Robinson is the Ghost of Christmas Future: she is what Ben will become if he doesn’t find some meaningful path for his life. She’s a cynic: an erstwhile romantic who never achieved her dreams. An art major who got pregnant and had to marry her boyfriend, she got trapped in the Wife script. She is bitter and as she tells Ben when he tries to strike up a conversation, not interested in art. She’s burnt out, empty, living a bitter meaningless life married to a man she doesn’t love. She has nothing, so the best she can do is amuse herself with a meaningless affair with Ben.
"Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you. What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson? Joltin' Joe has left and gone away.” DiMaggio is a hero and a lonely alienated nation needs heroes, needs something to believe in... But according to Mrs. Robinson’s cynical view, there’s nothing to believe in, no heroes, Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away.
In a New York Times editorial in March 1999, shortly after DiMaggio's death, Paul Simon explained that the line was meant as a sincere tribute to DiMaggio's unpretentious heroic stature, in a time when popular culture magnifies and distorts how we perceive our heroes. He further reflected: "In these days of Presidential transgressions and apologies and prime-time interviews about private sexual matters, we grieve for Joe DiMaggio and mourn the loss of his grace and dignity, his fierce sense of privacy, his fidelity to the memory of his wife and the power of his silence."
Purportedly, not everyone sees Mrs. Robinson in such a negative light. According to Wikipedia: “The term Mrs. Robinson has recently been used by a certain sect of urban progressive married females to describe themselves and their declaration of indifference to traditional marriage values and other conventional romantic institutions. Known as the Mrs. Robinson Society (MRS) mrsrobinsonsf.com, the group's manifesto is loosely based on a revival of interest in Bancroft's portrayal of Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate, and celebrates her character as a symbol of female independence and empowerment for a new generation of married women.”
Then Ben meets Elaine and she makes all the difference She is innocent, idealistic, full of hopes and dreams She is not cynical or jaded. She is perhaps what her mother once was before she let life defeat her.
Elaine makes the difference. Once Ben chooses her for himself instead of seeing her as foisted upon him by his parents, he becomes different. Considerate instead of rude Decisive instead of indecisive He’s finally heard his heart and now he can act, now he can live. Now there’s meaning to life.
Other lyrics from The Sounds of Silence suggest that there is hope for Ben-that he can fully hear his intuition. Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again, Because a vision softly creeping, Left its seeds while I was sleeping, And the vision that was planted in my brain Still remains Within the sound of silence.
Benjamin: Elaine, I like you. I like you so much. Do you believe that? (She nods silently) Do you? Elaine: Yes. Ben: (He sighs deeply) You're the first thing for so long that I like, the first person I could stand to be with. My whole life is such a waste. There's just nothing. I'm sorry. I'll take you home now. (He starts his car)
Having heard his heart, Ben now has a dream to follow and he does so. He follows Elaine to Berkeley and intrudes himself into her life (this didn’t seem quite so creepy back then; now it looks a bit like stalking.) He doesn’t seem to have much of a plan, but at least he’s not just drifting; he has a goal.
When Ben finds that Elaine is going to marry someone who appears to be everything Ben detests, he acts to save his dream and to rescue Elaine from the fate of her mother: a meaningless, loveless conventional marriage.
In the memorable climactic rescue scene at the film's conclusion, Benjamin makes a mad rush to interrupt and stop Elaine's wedding - with one enormous and uncharacteristic burst of initiative. He decides to try to halt the marriage from the church balcony, looking down through a pane of plate-glass (in a crucifixion image) as the ceremony concludes. He pounds on the glass, hopelessly calling out: "Elaine! Elaine! Elaine! Elaine!" as they exchange wedding vows. The bride finally looks up - startled - torn between Benjamin, her parents and her new, safe husband.
The very end of the movie is apparently the result of an anticliche improvisation. In the book Ben interrupts Elaine’s wedding (to another) before the troths have been plighted or the plights have been trothed or what have you. In the movie the bride kisses the groom before Ben can disrupt the proceeding, but the bride runs off just the same. And this little change makes all the difference in dramatizing the triumph of people over proceedings.
An entire genre of Hollywood movies had been constructed upon the suspenseful chase-to- the-altar proposition that what God hath joined together no studio scriptwriter could put asunder. The minister could turn out to be an imposter, the bridegroom a bigamist, but once the vows were taken, that was the old ball game. The Graduate not only shatters this monogamous mythology; it does so in the name of a truer love. --Andrew Sarris It is love & truth & authenticity that count, not the formalities-Ben & Elaine’s being together is right despite their not being married while the Robinsons’ being together is wrong even though they are.
the rejection of upper-middle-class values had a special appeal for upper-middle-class college students. The inarticulate Benjamin became a romantic hero for the audience to project onto. The movie functioned as a psychodrama: the graduate stood for truth; the older people stood for sham and for corrupt sexuality. And this "generation-gap" view of youth and age entered the national bloodstream; many moviegoers went to see the picture over and over again. »--Pauline Kael
Mrs. Robinson: It's too late. Elaine: Not for me. It’s never too late to follow your heart. The young have something to teach their elders in this respect. Perhaps it’s not too late even for Mrs. Robinson if she could shed her cynicism and listen to her heart.
"And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson” There is a metaphorical blessing available to Mrs.Robinson still if she would unharden her heart and listen to her own intuition.
Recall the final image. The young, glowing, alive, in love Benjamin & Elaine sitting in the back of the bus & This sea of dead almost zombie-like Older faces turns to stare at them They can’t cope with people who are alive; all they can do is stare.
Then finding himself to some extent, finding part of himself that he hadn't found, through connection with a girl. Finding passion because of impossibility.Impossibility always leads to passion and vice versa. Going from passion to a kind of insanity. Saving himself temporarily from being an object, through the passion and insanity. Getting what he thinks he wanted and beginning to subside back into the same world in which he has to live, with not enough changed. I think that's the story… director Mike Nichols Nichols puts ambiguity at the end. Are love & idealism enough to sustain a meaningful life when nothing has changed except one’s heart?