Critically analyse the opening sequence of Mike Nichols "The Graduate"(1968)

Essay by B3nnyukUniversity, Bachelor'sB, April 2004

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"I want to say just one word to you-just one word.

Yes sir.

Are you listening?

Yes I am.


-Mr McGuire to Benjamin Braddock, "The Graduate"(1967)

"The Graduate", directed by Mike Nichols and starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft , was released in 1967 to a generally rapturous reception. Along with "Bonnie and Clyde"- which was released in the same year- "The Graduate" captured the sprit of the times and heralded a new era in filmmaking. Before this period the classical narrative that served Hollywood filmmaking for almost 60 years had been criticised for being too basic. However by 1967, techniques favoured by the French filmmakers of the new wave began to filter through to Hollywood. This era became known as the post classical era. However as Peter Kramer comments:-

"Post classicism does not refer to a complete break in American film history;

rather the term is meant to highlight the fact that...Hollywood

has undergone

a set of fundamental changes which deserve critical attention."

As Kramer suggests, the changes from classical to post-classical are not clearly defined but it is important to note there was a significant change. The films coming out of Hollywood post 1967(with exceptions of course) credited the audience with being able to think beyond the basic narrative and read symbols and metaphors. It was entertainment with a brain.

In this essay I intend to analyse the first four and half minutes of "The Graduate"- the opening sequence so to speak. I will look at the way Nichols uses sound, framing, mise-en-scene and action and dialogue to set up character and the movies themes.

The Graduate tells the story of Benjamin Braddock(Dustin Hoffman), a college graduate heading back home to Los Angeles from his education in the east. Benjamin is a confused...