Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Ann Bancroft, Katharine Ross
Release Date: Dec. 21, 1967
Running Time: 105 min
Genres: Drama, Romance, Comedy
Commentary The Graduate is an incredible tale of sexual intrigue as well as confusion as faced by Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman). The acting and storyline are superb as well as the Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack played throughout the movie. The movie is complex, with lots of twists and turns, culminating in a fantastic ending in which Benjamin determines the course of his life in a matter of a few crucial moments.
Plot Summary The Graduate is about a young man named Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), who recently graduated from college. Shortly after returning home, amidst great confusion as to what to do with his life, his parents' very attractive friend Mrs. Robinson ends up seducing him. At first he resists her, but out of boredom he ends up having an affair with her which lasts for several months. Meanwhile, Benjamin's parents pressure him to ask out Elaine Robinson, her daughter, once she returns from school. Reluctantly at first he does, but shortly thereafter they end up falling in love. Mrs. Robinson becomes furious and tells her daughter about Benjamin's affair with her, lying in fact that he'd raped her. Elaine becomes extremely upset and returns to Berkeley. Benjamin persues her there. At first she rejects him until he sets her straight, whence she becomes torn between him and another man she's dating, who ends up proposing to her. The movie ends with an incredible sequence of events, culminating in Benjamin running off with Elaine.
Social Relevance The Graduate respesents the spirit of the times in many important ways. The 1960s was a period of great social turmoil, marked by sharp differences between the younger and older generation, known as the generation gap. Benjamin is clearly uncomfortable with the values of his parents' generation and struggles to find his own identity. Mrs. Robinson is uncomfortable with her marriage and sees Benjamin as a sex toy. He sees her similarly but his reasons for his affair with her are more a matter of wanting to escape from his confusion regarding his future. The affair lasts until their strong differences of opinion come into sharp conflict. Once it ends, Benjamin begins to establish his identity by pursuing Elaine. Elaine is also torn between her love for Benjamin and the life her parents are trying to create for her. Eventually she succumbs to Benjamin once she realizes that he can provide a better life for her than her parents are trying to do.