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The Graduate-Timeless Relevance

The Graduate (1967)
Director: Mike Nichols
Writing Credits: Buck Henry, Calder Willingham
Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman

We all know what it means to be caught up in the rapture. Whether it is affairs of the heart, the total immersion environment of HBS, or the daily grind of the workspace, the ability to lose sight of involvement is not a rare disease. In The Graduate, young Benjamin Braddock is, in many ways, like those making a gracious exeunt from our beloved Allston stage in June. His recent graduation not only explicitly underlines a milestone achieved, but also implicitly grants him the right to seize and conquer the world. Braddock has a great life, a great girlfriend, and great opportunity. He is golden. But, what goes wrong?

Nothing. The story of The Graduate is the story of reactive life management told through interesting cinematography and a timeless narrative. By default, it has become an American classic because the subject resonates so well with many aspects of life. Benjamin, a recent college graduate is home, somewhat unsure of which path to pursue. One day during a visit to the Braddock home, a dear long time family friend strips in front of young Benjamin and literally makes herself “available.” Thus begins a clandestine love affair with Mrs. Robinson, a woman old enough to be Braddock’s mother.

Meanwhile, Mr. Robinson and the Braddocks think it appropriate for Benjamin and the young Ms. Robinson to begin courting. Sparks fly, thereby creating the base of the love triangle. Mrs. Robinson does not look well upon her daughter and her young beau interlocking. At this point in the narrative, the story really begins to unfold. How does one manage the passions of life with the gravity of obligation? The obligation of motherhood, and passion of new love… Director Mike Nichols offers one method of carpe diem. More importantly however, I believe the film permeates the importance of deliberation when pursuing life’s passions. If you haven’t seen The Graduate, see it soon and think about the life awaiting you post HBS.

Recently, The Graduate has been adapted for the stage. The play, starring Kathleen Turner, Jason Biggs, and Alicia Silverstone enjoyed a run through February and March at the Colonial Theatre in Boston and is currently playing in New York through the spring.

April 22, 2002
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