AFI Top 100: No. 17 The Graduate


A little secret, the first time I saw this movie I hated it. I hated how creepy Ben was with Elaine and I hated how she left with him at the end. To be frank, I saw this my senior year of high school, when I had a pre-Red Wedding Sansa Stark view of love stories and the world. Flash forward 10 or so years and I appreciated this classic film much more.

The cinematography and symbolism was brilliant. The mundane shot at the beginning of Ben standing on the people mover at the airport showcased his bored reality. The repeated viewings and nods to his fish tank pinpointed his trapped mental state. This was, in my opinion, one of the film’s main strengths.

I enjoyed the dark humor this time as well. The awkwardness of Ben with Mrs. Robinson the first time was, while disturbing, pretty hilarious. I read Hoffman ad-libbed the random boob grab followed by his banging his head on his wall… that scene truly showed the maturity difference between Mrs. Robinson and young Ben. Finally, there are few scenes in cinema funnier than the wedding escape!

Clearly I enjoyed The Graduate much more than I did the first time I watched it, however, I will stand by the fact that Ben is a spoiled creep. Everyone who graduates college goes through a “WTF am I going to do with my life” moment but that doesn’t excuse you from partaking in an affair/stalking your mistress’ daughter by following her to Berkeley when she clearly told you GO AWAY multiple times. Obviously Mrs. Robinson is a predator herself and you do feel bad for Ben being a bit victimized although there were times he could have walked away (and not stalked her daughter).

Overall, enjoyable and well shot film but one I think you need some life experience in order to fully appreciate.

Next Up: No. 16 Sunset Blvd.


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