Blu-ray Review: The Graduate | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, May 31st, 2020  

The Graduate

Studio: Criterion

Mar 04, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

What more is there really to say about The Graduate? It was one of the most popular American films of all time on its release, and holds up better today—feeling relevant and modern—than 95% of its contemporaries. Every element seemed to align for Mike Nichols, from perfect casting and honest performances, to a stellar script, stunning cinematography and sound design, and that iconic Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack. The film is a classic, in every sense of the word.

Twenty-year-old Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) returns home after finishing his undergraduate studies; nervous and virginal, he’s coerced into a secret, sexual affair with the wife of his father’s business partner. As his relationship with Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) continues into the summer, Benjamin drifts further and further off-course, losing interest in returning to school or doing much of anything at all with his life. He eventually finds a savior in the young, beautiful Elaine (Katharine Ross), who is probably the last person he should be falling for—given that he’s sleeping with her mother.

Whether you read Benjamin as a youth revolting against the expectations of his upper-middle class upbringing, or as a nutty kid going through a nervous breakdown, The Graduate builds its humor from the situations it puts him in; as much as some audience members will want to give him the proper smack upside the head he needs, they’re powerless to do so. (Because, y’know, it’s just a movie.) Perhaps it’s an early example of the cringe comedy so prevalent in today’s television series, or perhaps it’s just smart filmmaking.

Criterion gave The Graduate a presentation befitting a film of its caliber and reputation; the film looks beautiful with its newly-restored 4K picture, and is almost gratuitously deluxe when it comes to extra features. Some of it is carry-over from prior anniversary releases of the movie, but some of it is new to home video—and some of it even goes beyond the familiar tales already known to Graduate trivia buffs (Anne Bancroft was only six years older than Dustin Hoffman! Robert Redford almost played the lead!) and gets into details that haven’t yet been overshared in the course of the film’s many re-releases. (Hoffman, in particular, in his newly-taped 45-minute discussion of the movie, talks about the veiled anti-Semitism found in many of the early reviews of the film.) Viewers will have their choice of commentaries, documentaries, and interviews, both archival and brand spankin’ new. Of particular interest are actors’ original screen tests for the movie, as well as appearances by Nichols on Today in 1966 and Paul Simon on The Dick Cavett Show in 1970. All in all, this is likely the most definitive release of the film there will be, at least until Criterion revisits it on holo-disc for its 60th anniversary in 2027.

Author rating: 9/10

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