The Graduate
 1.       In class we discussed how The Graduate was a modern expressionist film through obvious, yet creative camera shots. Also the viewer being aware of the film being intrusive. First, the camera shots in the beginning of the film were extremely close up and tight. This was to show how uptight Ben was. The opening sequence is Ben on an airplane, which has him seated very closely to other people. There is a close up side view of him on the conveyor belt where people are constantly coming into the frame. This shows that people are passing him or ahead of him in life. Even his mother comes into the frame when Ben is sitting alone in his room. This shows that his mother wants to take control of his life or push him towards where he is "suppose" to go. To show that he us uptight, Ben is seen wearing a suit and his face is very monotone. He even speaks very softly with short sentences. When Ben goes downstairs for his coming home party, everyone is getting in his face, including his father. Again, this shows that everyone is trying to control what Ben does in the future. Another example of why Ben is so uptight is when he implies to  Mrs. Robinson not to smoke in his room. After the first third of the movie, the camera has more medium shots with looser framing. This happens because Ben is realizing who he is as a person and is becoming more carefree. He starts to smoke, drink, and has an affair. He doesn't want to go graduate school and starts to lounge around by the pool. Even his clothing goes from suits and ties to jeans and t-shirts.
       We also talked about the use of unprecedented sound and dialogue to connect two scenes together rather than cutting. A viewer can see through many examples. When Ben is outside talking to to Mr. McGuire, the viewer can hear Mrs. Robinson starting a toast before we actually see that scene. The music from Mrs. Robinson's sun room continues into Elaine's room. When Ben first leaves Mrs. Robinson's house you can hear her say "Benjamin" continually from inside of the house to the outside. Also Ben's conversation with Mrs. Robinson on the pay phone starts when Ben is in the pool. There is also key action that is overlapped in one sequence with rapid cutting. It begins with Ben laying on a raft in the pool at his house. He gets up, grabs his shirt, and goes inside his house. The viewer sees it's not his house anymore, but the hotel. Ben lays on the hotel bed and Mrs. Robinson starts to unbutton his shirt. Then the camera cuts to Ben's face only. He gets up and he is back in his room. Ben is then in front of the television. With cuts after cuts, the viewer sees Ben in his house, in the hotel, back to his house, and the hotel again. Then we see Ben laying on his bed again. He then goes to the pool, dives in, jumps onto the raft which turns into Ben jumping on Mrs. Robinson in the hotel. This short sequence shows how long this affair has been going on. There is also rapid cutting when Mrs. Robinson comes into Elaine's room naked.  The shots keep cutting from Ben's facial expression to parts of Mrs. Robinson's body.
      There is also the use of matching cuts to show the passage of time. This is shown especially when Ben is at Berkley. When he arrives at the fountain in the center of campus, you first see him sitting there  alone. Then there is an interior to exterior shot of the campus. The aerial view shows Ben alone then students surrounding him. Then there is the scene when Ben is talking to Elaine about marriage when she is walking to class. The bell rings, she goes to class, and the door closes. The same shot of the door and the sound of the bell is seen and heard again. This time, the class has ended. Another point we talked about was the use of a long lens to compress space. You see this when Ben in running to the church. The view is a frontal shot of him running. It seems like he is not going anywhere, but when the shot becomes a side view; the viewer can see that he is running extremely fast. Lastly, there is a few uses of rolling focus to change perception. One instance is when Ben is in the scuba gear. The perception is change to his point of view to emphasize his isolation. Then his perception is viewed again when Ben goes to tell Elaine about his affair with her mother. The camera is focused on Mrs. Robinson in the hallway, overhearing Ben's explanation. When she steps away from the shot, Elaine is in the foreground, completely blurry for several frames.

2. The article, Just One Word... Plastics, from the Journal of Popular Film & Television by Robert Beuka talks about the nature of masculinity in the suburban environment, the effects of suburban environment on self-identity, and the analysis of The Graduate. With his adult life just around the corner, Ben fears the conforming lifestyle of his parents. He views their lives as materialistic with unfulfilling jobs and a suburban landscape that is uninspiring. When Mr. McGuire praises "plastics", this sets the tone and theme for the film. Ben's search for his manhood is best symbolized by his parent's landscaped backyard. The pool represents the depths of despair that lurks beneath the surface of suburban life. The link between Ben and the backyard suggests that as much as Ben resists the world of his parents, he finds himself constrained by his suburban surroundings. Nonetheless, Ben is forced to define his manhood in terms of his relationship to his suburban environment. Ben is both drawn and flees away from his home, as a viewer can see from his constant appearance by the pool.  Ben is unsure of his relationship to his home environment. Because of this alienation and his attempt to define himself, Ben results to having social and sexual taboos with Mrs. Robinson. Eventually he finds himself separated from his confined suburb environment, but still being trapped by it may be a key factor in the rest of his life. Additionally, Ben is always seen traveling or moving, which implies how aimless he is.
The theme of entrapment is also brought as the main theme since the beginning of the film. Also the film focuses on water. There is a relationship between Ben and being immersed in water. The recurrent drowning imagery hints that Ben is submerged beneath the suburban normality. There is also a connection between water and Ben's sexual affair with Mrs. Robinson. There is a sense of his sexuality finally being emerged. Ben has an affair with Mrs. Robinson because of his parents smothering him and their denial of his own manhood. Mrs. Robinson becomes a symbol of his mother and also mirrors himself. But once Ben rejects Mrs. Robinson for Elaine, he has now "escaped" the landscape of his suburban lifestyle.

3.       Even though a viewer of the film might not pick up on these key symbols and themes, they are blatantly there in different scenes.  You can see Ben is trapped in his suburban lifestyle from the beginning. Ben finds himself being smothered by a party thrown by his parents. When he attempts to flee from the scene, he is stopped by Mr. Mcguire. He says the future of his profession choice should be plastics. Once this is brought up, the viewer can see that this is the life Ben does not want to live, a plastic one. Where everyone does the same thing and is fake. The article brings up when Ben finally "escapes" the life he doesn't want to see himself living in. Being socially confined by his suburban lifestyle may still be a factor in life. This is shown when Elaine and Ben get on the bus after running out of the church. The final shot of their faces shows the look of excitement and bewilderment at the same time. You can see that Ben and Elaine wonder whether they have escaped their "plastic world" or are they going down a completely different path. If they want to live the "American Dream", they will have to get married, get jobs, and buy a house in the suburbs. This is what they wanted to escape, but they might be driven to the "plastic" suburban lifestyle anyway. To show that Ben is part of the aimless younger generation, he is constantly moving. He goes back and forth between South Carolina and Berkley.
       The theme of entrapment is immediately seen in the opening credits. There is a close up on Ben's face and then it is followed by a medium shot of Ben walking onto a conveyor belt. A voice comes on over the intercom saying, "Please hold handrail and stand to the right. If you wish to pass, please do so on the left" (Beuka, 8). We see Ben standing on the belt with other people passing him. This shows that he is going to be confined. Then Ben is accosted by by his parents' older friends about his future. He tries to escape by saying he needs to go to his room or outside to check the car. The entire scene has all close up shots to show Ben is crowded or suffocating. The use of water to show Ben's relationship with Mrs. Robinson due to the smothering influences of his parents is shown right from the beginning. After the opening credits fade out, there is a shot of Ben staring into his fish tank. At the bottom of the tank, there is a miniature plastic man in scuba gear. This represents Ben and foreshadows the roll he will play at the bottom of his pool in a future scene. The connection between water and Ben's sexual affair  is shown when Mrs. Robinson throws her keys into Ben's fish tank. When Ben goes to retrieve the keys, this shows that this relationship is an escape from the world he is being suffocated in. His parents denying him of his own manhood is shown in the second party scene. Before Ben is introduced in his new scuba gear, Mr. Braddock says "to bring this boy out here"(Beuka, 9). He then corrects himself saying, "No. wait a minute. Oh let me amend that. To bring this young man out here..."(Beuka, 9). The remainder of this scene is shot through Ben's perspective. During this perspective, the viewer can't hear anything, but Ben's breathing. This shows that Ben is completely isolated. When Ben jumps into the pool, he is pushed back down into the water by his father when Ben tried to emerge. His father's actions show that he does not want Ben to become a man. Ben finally "escapes" the landscape of his lifestyle when he goes to see Elaine at Berkeley. When he is driving, the landscape has wide open highways compared to his generic backyard.

4. For its place in history, The Graduate's content was perfect. After 1965, most films had more adult material. There was no more Seal of Approval and the codes loosened up. Films before this, never had any content dealing with sex. This film should be recognized as one of the starters for adult material. Even the plot relates to every college student from then until the present. Once a college student graduates, they are in a world similar to Ben. They are confused and don't know what they want to do in life. Even Ben said, "Its like I was playing some kind of game, but the rules don't make any sense to me." (Internet Movie Database). The director, Mike Nichols, is creative at taking Orson Welles' film style and making it his own. Him and Orson Welles both used ways to connect one scene to another and overlapping action. It was really interesting to see how Nichols was showing the progression and pace of the affair. He grouped scenes that had similar shots in the house and hotel together, like Ben watching television and laying in bed. The hotel and his house both had televisions and, of course, a bed. I really like how there was little use of tertiary motion, like fades to black. The continuation of scenes through voice overs and overlapping action helped the pace of the movie speed up. Overall, this movie is a "coming of the age" for all who were once Ben's age.

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