Look, I get it. I get why this film was a big deal back in the day. It’s a well written, well directed, and fantastically acted movie. It’s easy to see how it captured audiences back in 1967. Even today, I found myself relating to the main character, played by Dustin Hoffman. He just graduated college and feels lost? That’s a feeling that college graduates have felt since 1967 and will probably continue to feel for a long time. It’s highly relatable. That part of the film, admittedly aged well enough. Hoffman’s character does come from a rich family and went to a prestigious school so it is a little hard to feel too bad for him, but still. What hasn’t aged well is just about everything else in the film (Other then the soundtrack that I’ll discuss in a moment). Now, I’m not saying that Mrs. Robinson is a great person, she does pressure Hoffman’s character, a boy she has know since he was really young, into an affair, but Hoffman’s Ben comes out of this film looking pretty bad too. In 1967, I’m sure Ben was a relatable guy. But in 2020, he is kind of a creep. I think any normal person would refuse to go on a date with the daughter of the woman you are having an affair with. I certainly think, no normal person would then decide, after barely two dates, to ask that girl to marry him. Most normal people certainly, I’d hope, would not continue to peruse the girl even after she says she never want to see them again after finding out they had an affair with their mother. (I think you get what I’m going with so I’ll just plainly say what he does next). Ben then follows the girl to her college and stalks her. He then pesters her to marry him. Which she doesn’t want. She then agrees to marry someone else and he decides to crash the wedding. Ben straight up sucks. I don’t care that the girl ends up choosing him, the closing shot clearly implies that the relationship is doomed. I don’t know how Ben looked by 1967 standards. But by 2020 standards, he is a creep who continuously peruses a young woman after ruining her parents’ marriage and even after she repeatedly says no. Ben, in my opinion, for the entire second half of the film is an insufferable creep who is impossible to root for. Which in my opinion, kind of ruins the movie for me. I get that the film is supposed to show the impulsive and reckless nature of the youths. But I guarantee there is a way to have that movie while also having a main character that’s respects women when they say ‘no.’
OK… I got all that off my chest. I feel better. Now, I will simply say. The soundtrack is great. It ages much better than anything else in the film. I mean, Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” and “Mrs. Robinson.” Do I really need to say more? It speaks of itself. Any movie that introduced those fantastic songs to a wider audience deserves at least some praise for it.
Ultimately, should you watch The Graduate? I don’t know, maybe? If you were alive when this movie came out, I’d love to hear your opinion on it and whether or not you think it holds up by today’s standards. For better or worse it is a part of film history and is worth viewing alone if that’s something important to you. You could also watch it so that you can seem more cultured at fancy dinner parties (if those ever happen again). It is on Hulu. But the film is over 50 years old. If you haven’t gotten around to watching it yet, can you honestly say you will now? I mean, if you’ve never seen it, and you have no desire to impress any film majors you might know, it probably isn’t worth your time.