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A few examples of style (conveying meaning visually) from The Graduate. The film begins with this shot of Benjamin. The establishing shot is a detail rather than something wider: thus, inside-out editing. Then, the camera zooms back to reveal him as one passenger among many on a plane.
The film begins with this shot of Benjamin.
The establishing shot is a detail rather than something wider: thus, inside-out editing.
Then, the camera zooms back to reveal him as one passenger among many on a plane.
Much of the film deals with the theme of isolation and Ben’s feelings of not fitting in.
The opening shot begins to hint at this idea through this technique of visually selecting him out of the crowd of passengers.
Ben’s father enters to fill part of the frame and to quiz him about what might be wrong.
The sound of Ben’s aquarium gurgles on the soundtrack.
The closed framing and the sound effect call attention to Ben’s isolation and reflective thought.
We also see something of the same effect here.
The witty mise en scene positions Ben in the crook of Mrs. Robinson’s extended leg.
Visually, he seems a bit penned in, surrounded, trapped by the situation, as indeed he is.
When his mother enters the shot, she will block out our view of Ben completely.
Glimpsing Ben behind foreground elements that partially block our view of him is a recurrent motif in the film.
It also happens in Elaine’s bedroom when Mrs. Robinson tries to seduce Ben. (See page 64.)
Did anyone notice the occasional use of greenery and foliage in some settings?
The Robinsons’ house and the Taft Hotel bar both reveal this design.
This slow tracking-in shot when Benjamin arrives to pick up Elaine for their date shows Mrs. Robinson’s great displeasure. Clearly, she’s ticked.
It is almost a “beast in the jungle” motif.
The usual way Mrs. Robinson is costumed--in animal prints--reinforces this.
Although Elaine is trying to avoid Benjamin and plans to meet Carl Smith at the zoo, the costuming signals the audience that Ben and Elaine visually belong together.
Given what we’ve learned about the way costuming can convey meaning, I wonder what this shot of Benjamin’s mother is meant to suggest?
How often does Mrs. Braddock dress like Mrs. Robinson?
Does Benjamin harbor some Oedipal feelings toward mom?
Let’s not even think about it.
Two more examples, both famous ones. The first is an edit used to convey meaning.
Ben, in the pool, begins to climb up on the mattress.
In the middle of this action, the film cuts to Ben settling on top of Mrs. Robinson in bed.
A visual metaphor!
Drifting in the pool = casual, meaningless sex with Mrs. Robinson (drifting in life).
When Ben later tells Mr. Robinson that the affair was like “shaking hands” with her, this casualness may be what he means.
Of course, that remark makes Mr. Robinson a bit angry.
The film shows us at one point how the act of mentally figuring something out (reaching a conclusion) is like a photographic image coming into focus.
Does anyone know the example I have in mind?
When Elaine realizes that Ben’s affair was with her mother, this insight in conveyed wordlessly.
The scene begins with Elaine in focus looking at Ben. Mrs. Robinson is out of focus at the back.
When Elaine turns to look at her mother in the doorway, the focus changes and Mrs. Robinson comes into focus. The back of Elaine’s head is now slightly out of focus.
When she turns back to Ben after looking at her mother, Elaine’s face is out of focus as her mother walks off. She is thinking, adding it all up.
When her face comes into focus, her mind will have realized what has gone on between Ben and her mother.
Her next line: “Oh, no. Get out!” But her conclusion has been conveyed to us pictorially.
Is anything important being suggested by this common element at the Braddock house and the Robinson house?
It is something that shows the sameness of the older generation, maybe a small sign of conformity.
After the scene of Ben in the pool with his scuba gear, Nichols was initially going to insert a helicopter shot of the house and the pool and then pull back to show all the neighboring houses looking exactly the same--little suburban boxes, all alike.