Revelations: Upper Class Upbringings
by: clancymcbride ()
Comment No. 1 22-Jun-2004, 21:23 GMT
This film was unlike any other. It was an emotional journey through the life of a well off college graduate who's life reflected those of many others in his similiar circumstances. Dustin Hoffman portrayed this role with an incredible sense of arrogance, and self-hatred. Rarely in this time are we able to see a film with such emotional integrity and a soundtrack that matches such feelings. I was turned on to this film (in the operatic sense) by my first viewing with my dearly departed grandfather, at the age of ten years. Even at that age I noticed the sense of urgency that was the driving force of the film. I truly love this film and wish that every viewer who has seen it feels the same.
P.S. Mrs. Robinson is still in my dreams!
I researched the script in support of a drama of my own, looking for something in the same general category. Thus, I read the script before ever seeing the film. It's embarrassing to admit for a screenwriter not to have seen a classic.
But yet, there is a bright side. This is THE way to appreciate a classic. Read it first, with no preconceptions. The script is in the technique of the 1960's where slugs had more content and scenes are less obviously in master than today. But the visuals are absolutely effortless. You can see what going on throughout.
You realize you're reading a master almost from the start. This is the best way to gauge a film, first as a read, as if you were a production executive never having seen it. And as a script, it is a great experience. In fact, it's a little depressing -- because the layering and quality is profound. They knew how to write in days gone by, long before word processors and laser printers. If you haven't seen The Graduate, hold off and read it first.
The tension builds throughout like a good novel. To the very last line, you are eagerly after what happens. In fact, it's so good you find yourself rushing. In the last ten pages, I was almost skipping lines I was so eager to find out. You have to tell yourself to slow down because the tension is so great. It is a worthy read to the very last line.
As a shooting script it offers some interesting insights about slugs: ROAD #1, ROAD #2, BUS #1, BUS #2, etc. Slugs are better understood as tools when used in this way. You see how the slugs can tell a production designer how many different locations will be involved and how many different versions of ordinary settings may be called for.
Another interesting aspect is that Mrs. Robinson is never physically described -- clothed or otherwise. How unlike today's stuff! Here, we are left to pure imagination. We get some hints of her style, but that's all. We don't even know the color of her hair. Nonetheless the story drips sexuality as she advances on her unsuspecting prey. A masterful use of dialogue-as-visual and visual-as-dialogue.
The SUPREMELY gratifying twist at the heart of it is when Mrs. Robinson reveals her true motives to Ben. We are so wrapped up with what has happened to that point we don't even see it coming. And it hits us like it hits the hero: seismic impact. A total wow and utterly, compellingly, perplexing. You find yourself asking, what is this lady's problem?
Another thing we do not learn (again, less characteristic of today's stories) is what happens to Mrs. Robinson as a result of the ending. Today's stories almost automatically have to tell us everything in the end. But The Graduate shows that isn't necessarily so. We never learn exactly why Mrs. Robinson so vehemently opposes Ben and Elaine; much stays in the psychological layering with plenty of room for speculation.
The Graduate is marvelous because it is a cerebral story yet heart-poundingly suspenseful to the very end. It is classic mid-1960's story telling -- before all the foul language, violence and raw nudity of the current septic age.
Here's hoping -- in vain, no doubt -- that future Graduate-level scripts may some day again dominate screen tales.