This is one of those films you need to see again and again.
This release doesn't seem that much different than previous releases of this DVD.
Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) has just graduated college. He's followed in the footsteps of what everyone else has done and now, fresh out of school, he seems to wonder, "Is this all there is?" Filled with a listlessness he almost seems resigned to his fate and his only solace comes in an affair he has with Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft). Never mind that Robinson is married and that she and her husband are best friends with Braddock's parents. Slowly, Benjamin begins to realize that this relationship probably isn't the greatest thing in the world, but matters get complicated with his mother sets him up with Mrs. Robinson's daughter (Katherine Ross). However, a funny thing happens here, Benjamin falls in love, much to the irateness of his current sex partner. Rather than simply retreat back into his listlessness, Braddock is recharged and goes on an all out assault to win back the love of his life after she finds out that he's been shtupping her mom.
While this might sound like a wacky, slapstick comedy, The Graduate is as serious as heart attack. Directed with great levity by Mike Nichols, his work is strongly aided by all of the wonderful actors, writer Buck Henry, and other elements involved in this film.
They have put two commentary tracks on this release. There is one with Dustin Hoffman and Katherine Ross. There is also one with Mike Nichols and Steven Soderbergh. I chose to go with the actors commentary mainly because of time reasons. They talk about not being allowed to see the dailies from this film, Mike Nichols' shooting style, and how Hoffman got the role because Nichols felt that his screentest seemed panicked. Hoffman then talks about feeling like he was miscast in this role, and this discomfort that they had made a mistake really showed through in his role. Interesting piece of trivia, Hoffman's parents were present the night he shot his scenes at the Ambassador Hotel.
Students of The Graduate
Directors like Harold Ramis, Marc Forster and David O'Russell discuss the impact and importance of this film. We also hear from Mike Nichols as he talks about shooting this movie and bringing the story to the big screen. Mixed in with this are the directors talking about the power of cinema and what film has the capacity to do. The most interesting aspect about this featurette was hearing the aesthetics of what Nichols did being broken down. He tried to make this movie look "visually appealing" but at the same time one can also see a firmly trained stage director's hand employed.
The Graduate at 25
One on One with Dustin Hoffman
If one is a big a fan of Dustin Hoffman I would certainly suggest spending time with this featurette. While it isn't recent, it is great getting to hear him recount the making of this movie. Truthfully, he covers much of the same ground in his commentary track like how he got the role, but it was interesting to hear about his screentest with Katherine Ross. He says that everyone was seen for the parts they eventually played, and he thinks that if they had tested sooner they wouldn't have gotten these roles. He then goes on to discuss the contract for the film and how he thought Nichols paid more attention to Ross in the screentest because he fancied her.
Includes 4 Songs from the Original Soundtrack. They are:
- The Sound of Silence
- Mrs. Robinson
- Scarborough Fair/Canticle
- April Come She Will
Widescreen - 2.35:1. This film has a very light almost tranquil tone. Yet, it is lit in a lot of scenes almost like a horror movie. The juxtaposition of all these visual components really works to great effect on this DVD. MGM and Fox have done a tremendous job bringing this release off. While I can't say this thing was bumped up in quality from other releases, I will offer that I didn't notice any moments of pixilization on the screen. While the film language of today has changed from the 1960s, I think that that change came about because of movies like this.
Dolby Digital. English 5.1 DTS. 5.1 Dolby Surround. English and French Mono. Close Captioned. Subtitled in English and Spanish. The audio on this movie was good but I have to say that probably 60% of this film's feeling comes from the songs of Simon & Garfunkle. So much of this movie plays with images on screen and the audio playing over it and nothing is said yet that seems to speak volumes. Everything here was leveled really strongly as well and I don't recall ever having to turn my TV up that loud at all.
This front cover gives us a barefoot Benjamin Braddock with an image of a woman putting on a stocking. The back cover gives us what seems like a Photoshopped image of Braddock and Mrs. Robinson. There is a description of what this movie is about, a Special Features listing, a cast list and technical specs. Both discs in this set are stored in one amaray case.
There is great debate about the ending of The Graduate. It seems like after Benjamin does what he does, one might think that there would be sheer exultation at his accomplishment. However, it might be the sad, almost foreboding strains of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound Of Silence," but I would like to think it's the looks on the characters faces that really tell the tale. It is as if after the entire adventure that is put across in this film, our characters are right back where they started only the stakes are higher and the question again remains, "What's next?" In some ways it sort of seems like The Graduate is in fact questioning the very nature of existence. We do all these things, we work hard, then what happens next?
The beauty of The Graduate is that it seems like it can be many different things. At times it plays like a romantic comedy, at other times it plays like a cautionary tale for simply going with the flow.
The Graduate was released December 21, 1967.