The Graduate (1967)
Mike Nichols
22 June 2009
why don't more people discuss Nichols' work on this? It alone, even if his multiple other good/great films never existed, puts him in the elite.

The screenplay and acting deserve a ton of credit and get it, but I've spoken to plenty of film buffs who couldn't tell you who directed The Graduate, something they'd obviously know about any number of other highly acclaimed movies.

To me it seems clearly one of the most phenomenally well-directed movies around. Not only is Nichols a master of tone and atmosphere, and the film brilliantly-paced with basically no dull bits, but it's such a technical tour-de-force. The photography is striking, not sure how much credit to give to Nichols and how much to the great Robert Surtees, but they seem to have had a great understanding of what they wanted to achieve. The use of flares (which I'm really fascinated by now, as sort of a by-product of seeing Elswit's work on "Punch Drunk Love") during that conversation between Ben and Elaine in the car outside the Taft hotel, or the flares caused by sunlight in the POV shots of Ben talking to his father from the pool, with his dad moving in and out of the way of sunlight. The whole movie just has great little visual touches like that.

Obviously the use of music and sound in general is wonderful, this movie popularized the music video-within-a-movie thing that Wes Anderson for example does so well, I love it personally, but I know a lot of people really don't. Just as silence is used so effectively a blank black screen is also used tremendously well at times. The use of camera throughout the film is fantastic IMO, there's rarely even a conversation that's boringly, conventionally filmed, something you can't say even about the work of many major directors like Scorsese etc. He also seems to have a great grasp of how much emotion can be conveyed in the distance between the camera and characters. When there are close-ups in "The Graduate" they are very affecting and beautiful, and the zoom-outs (and zoom-ins) are also striking and used to great effect several times in the movie. Don't even need to mention some of the great transitions and the editing. Also love how Nichols shows us several perspectives of the same thing in several scenes. The best part of the whole thing is that none of it feels like showboating, it's all in the greater service of the story and characters. One of my favorite screenplays this, by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry.

It just strikes me as a shame that Nichols isn't generally more recognized, it's partly his own doing for participating in as much Hollywood fluff as he has and never really matching the brilliance of his first two films (though it's a misconception that he hasn't made other great films), but his work here is the work of a master.
1 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.

Recently Viewed