Friday, May 4, 2012
(December 1967, U.S.)
During my adulthood I've read my fair share of books on not only some of my favorite directors, but on film itself. My favorite, to date, has been Peter Biskind's EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS, which depicts the change in Hollywood's moviemaking course from about the year 1967 (the year I was born!) to about 1980 when young maverick director's like Scorsese, Coppolla and Spielberg were giving (younger) audiences bolder, more daring stories on the big screen. During the late 1960s, it's very safe to say that the message of the younger generation lashing out at the "man", the "system", or basically anyone over the age of thirty was what was "in" on the big screen. And so, along with BONNIE & CLYDE (1967) and EASY RIDER (1969), Mike Nichol's THE GRADUATE was a wonderful calling card for the young to rebel against the world around them...even if it meant fucking Mrs. Robinson!
Growing up in the early 1980s, my world of cinema often revolved around the vulgar high school antics of films like PORKY'S (1981) and FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (1982). But it's perhaps very safe to say that the antics of Benjamin Broaddock (played by a very young Dustin Hoffman) and his efforts for an interesting (if not his first??) sexual experience upon college graduation was a solid precursor to those wild sex comedies I grew up with. While I wouldn't have called actress Anne Bancroft unattractive back in that day, she's hardly what I would have considered a valid sexual fantasy. Clearly, for Benjamin, the act of jumping into the sack with Mrs. Robinson (Bancroft) is more an extrame act of rebellion against not only his straight-arrowed parents, but also the entire grown up world around him who simply wants to see him get on with his responsible future RIGHT NOW, even if it means stooping so low as to get involved with PLASTICS! The rebellion goes further than that, though - because what could be a better symbolic "fuck you" to the adults around you than to not only sleep with your parent's best friend, but to then go on and (genuinely) fall in love with her daughter Elaine (played by beautiful Katharine Ross). Speaking of Ross, my dad once confessed that he had a big crush on her back in the day. Pissed off my mom to no end!
But I digress...
It's at this point that we also see just how much Mrs. Robinson is rebelling against her own demons, because this "desperate housewife" screwing Benjamin Braddock may be one thing, but having him hook up with her daughter is (apparently) a certain type of low that she just won't allow. Benjamin soons goes from sinful lover to a bitter enemy that must be kept away from her daughter at all costs. Benjamin's final infamous act of rebelion is to not only win the heart of Elaine, but to actually steal her away from the man she chooses to marry (out of nothing more than convenience) during the actual ceremony right in front of all family and guests. His scene of pounding on the glass and screaming, "Elaine...Elaine...Eliane!" is nothing short of classic!
Let's now spend the rest of this post focussing on the final moment when Benjamin and Elaine have escaped her bullshit wedding and gotten on board a passing bus. Look at how happy and relieved they both are! Now keep watching their faces! Look how their expression of joy and jubilance ever-so-slowly turns to that of tense concern and worry, as if they've both suddenly realized the reality of, "Holy shit, what did we just do???" Take a look...
Don't forget, love may have conquered all at the end of the film, but these are still two kids without money, without jobs, without a home and without any immediate certainty for what the future holds for them. If you ask me, it's my opinin that Benjamin Braddock and Elaine Robinson DO NOT make it in the end.
Favorite line or dialogue:
Mr. Braddock: "Ben, what are you doing?"
Benjamin Braddock: "Well, I would say that I'm just drifting. Here in the pool."
Mr. Braddock: "Why?"
Benjamin: "Well, it's very comfortable just to drift here."
Mr. Braddock: "Have you thought about graduate school?"
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?"
Benjamin: "You got me."
You know, even at the age of 45, I look back on my college education and I can appreciate how Benjamin feels!