Inside the DVD Vault: The Graduate

BY DI ARTS STAFF | AUGUST 21, 2009 7:07 AM

Sit back, relax, and take a trip down nostalgia lane this weekend by popping in one of the films that have changed our lives and shaped our culture. Each Friday, the DI Arts staff cracks open the DVD Vault to remember the movies we’ve loved, lost, and lived along the way.

The Graduate
Released: 1967

I feel like a bit of a chump claiming that The Graduate is one of the greatest films ever created. It’s like when people ask me my favorite book, and I say The Great Gatsby. They roll their eyes and say something like, “Oh, good one, Eric — how original.” Well, I’m sick of it. I’m proud to defend my love of the classics.

The Graduate stands out as an awesome movie because it has it all: laughs, sex, fighting, love, and fear. Dustin Hoffman plays Benjamin Baddock — a bit of a tool, but not a tool who’s at the bar buying 17 glasses of dollar-u-call-its and then throwing up on the floor. Instead, Baddock is simply a confused young man looking to figure out his future. His affair with Mrs. Robinson is not only sometimes funny, it is utterly heartbreaking. As he appears to gain confidence, we see him slip further away from reality.

Baddock’s ultimate breakdown serves as a quintessential cautionary anecdote: Life can fall apart, and it can fall apart fast. As he stands in a Christ-like position in the church, pounding on the glass and screaming “Elaine!” to try to break up the wedding, we witness a man broken by frustration and overtaken by hope. Inspiring? Yes, but only for a moment. As an audience, we are initially caught up in his momentum, rooting for him every step of the way.

However, as the pair meet and escape on the bus, we crash with Benjamin. His apathetic and fearful look, combined with the sweet “Sounds of Silence,” brings us all to Baddock’s own realization that he doesn’t know what the hell to do, he didn’t grow up at all, and he’s the same fearful 20-year-old before Mrs. Robinson thought he was cute.

So here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson — for breaking Benjamin. We all really do love you more than you’ll ever know.

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