The Graduate Film Review

Movie Bunker Score:

The Graduate: A Timeless Tale of Generational Divide

As one of the most iconic films of the 1960s, The Graduate has stood the test of time as a poignant exploration of the generation gap in America. This article delves into the captivating story of Benjamin Braddock, brilliantly portrayed by a young Dustin Hoffman. Directed by Mike Nichols, the film captures the essence of a changing era and invites viewers into a world filled with perplexity and burstiness.

Benjamin Braddock’s Journey Begins

The story unfolds as Benjamin Braddock, a recent graduate of a prestigious eastern American university, returns home to California. With numerous accomplishments under his belt, Benjamin is met with overwhelming expectations and suffocating attention from his parents and their friends. Seeking solace, he finds himself drawn to Mrs. Robinson, a family friend who leads him down a path of forbidden love.

The European Influence on The Graduate

Director Mike Nichols infuses The Graduate with a European sensibility, reminiscent of the works of Truffaut and romantic dramas. Despite coming from a privileged background, Benjamin embodies a bohemian ennui that clashes with the prescribed path his family expects him to follow. The film becomes a commentary on the societal norms that the 1960s counterculture sought to challenge.

The Impact of the Counterculture

The cultural backdrop of the 1960s counterculture plays a significant role in The Graduate. Benjamin’s family embodies the traditional values that the counterculture movement aimed to break free from—wealthy, white, and pressuring him to conform to their notion of success. It is when Benjamin embarks on his ill-fated affair with Mrs. Robinson that he begins a journey of self-discovery that dismantles his previously charted life course.

Dustin Hoffman’s Masterful Performance

Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of Benjamin Braddock remains a stellar and formative achievement in his career. Despite being a relative unknown at the time, Hoffman captivates audiences with his ability to embody a character who knows what to say but often struggles to articulate it in social situations. Benjamin’s complexity and flawed likability offered a relatable portrayal for many young viewers.

The Multifaceted Female Characters

The Graduate features a compelling cast of female characters that shape Benjamin’s journey. Anne Bancroft delivers a remarkable performance as Mrs. Robinson, an enigmatic force of nature caught between villainy and tragic relatability. Her presence breaks through the barriers that separate Benjamin from the adult world. Katherine Ross portrays Elaine, Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, existing both within and outside of Benjamin’s world, creating an uncertain and complex dynamic that drives the film towards its climactic conclusion.

A Perfect Blend of Comedy and Drama

The Graduate not only proves to be a thought-provoking exploration of generational divide, but also balances moments of genuine humor throughout the film. The script by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry has become iconic, permeating popular culture with memorable quotes and scenes. The visual comedy remains fresh and progressive even by today’s standards, showcasing the influence it had on future films like those of John Hughes.

The Timelessness of The Graduate

Decades after its release, The Graduate continues to resonate with viewers of all ages. While opinions may vary among critics, the film’s ability to touch both younger and older audiences highlights its enduring significance. As we navigate an increasingly divided world, with younger generations facing economic challenges, The Graduate serves as a reminder of the universal conflicts that span generations.


The Graduate’s powerful exploration of the generational divide, portrayed through the journey of Benjamin Braddock, remains a timeless masterpiece. Mike Nichols’ direction, coupled with Dustin Hoffman’s remarkable performance, creates a film that expertly balances drama and comedy. With its resonant themes and complex characters, The Graduate has secured its place as a seminal work in cinema.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is The Graduate based on a true story?

No, The Graduate is not based on a true story. It is a work of fiction penned by screenwriters Calder Willingham and Buck Henry.

2. Has The Graduate won any awards?

Yes, The Graduate garnered critical acclaim and received multiple awards and nominations. It won the Academy Award for Best Director and was nominated for several other Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress.

3. What impact did The Graduate have on popular culture?

The Graduate has had a profound influence on popular culture. It introduced iconic quotes and scenes that have been parodied and referenced in various forms of media. The film’s soundtrack, particularly the song “Mrs. Robinson” by Paul Simon, also became a major hit.

4. Who played the role of Mrs. Robinson?

Anne Bancroft portrayed the character of Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate. Her performance remains one of the film’s highlights, showcasing her versatility as an actress.

5. How does The Graduate resonate with audiences today?

The themes explored in The Graduate, such as the generation gap and the pursuit of personal identity, continue to be relevant today. The film offers a timeless examination of societal expectations and the desire to break free from prescribed paths.