The critically acclaimed, 1967 film, “The Graduate,”? directed by Mike Nichols, tells the story of Benjamin Braddock, who is coming of age in the 60’s; decade of a sexual revolution. As viewers, we follow his mind boggling path as he searches to find who he is as a man and what he wants to do with his life. In the mist of his quest to find himself, he inadvertently becomes sexually involved with Mrs. Robinson, the mother of the girl whom he is dating and quickly falling in love. nd he becomes obsessed with winning her love back.
The Cinematography in “The Graduate”? is simply astonishing and creative, so much so that I have watched this film about four different times. Mike Nichols trusted Bob Surtees as his cinematographer of this 1967 American comedy drama. These two combined their skills and expressed cinematography through depth, zoom, and specific editing sequences. Cinematography is defined as, “the process of capturing moving images on film or a digital storage device” (Barsam, Richard.Order now
Page 226). “The Graduate ? is one of the extraordinary examples of how a films story and message is told through the lens. The overall outcome of the featured shots played a role presenting the story to the viewer, and also understanding Ben’s personality and insecurity issues. The cinematography style that Surtees uses is complicated, but yet spontaneously understandable at the same time. Throughout the film we as the viewer are shown numerous romantic encounters of Ben and Mrs. Robinson.
During these encounters there is always a montage sequence that has music, which is defined as, “an editing technique in which shots are juxtaposed in an often fast-paced fashion that compresses time and conveys a lot of information in a relatively short period”? (Element Of Cinema). This shows us the viewer the passes of time throughout these romantic encounters that Ben and Mrs. Robinson have. The use of depth in the following scene explains the techniques that were used in “The Graduate ? to give the viewer an overall understanding of full awareness of the characters feelings and the realism of the actions that have occurred.
The scene that expresses to the viewer an overall understanding of what Ben has gotten himself into is the day in which Ben and Elaine are to have their first date. The use of depth of field and focus are extremely small but empower this scene. Depth of field is defined as, “a property of the lens that permits the cinematographer to decide what planes, or areas of the image, will be in focus”? (Barsam, Richard. Page 246) The use of rain created an overall more dramatic background to this scene while the lens usage that was used focuses our attention to the frustrated Mrs. Robinson.
Ben is driving in the pouring rain to Elaine’s house to pick her up for their infamous first date. Once Ben has pulled up to the home we see women legs appear. Assuming his date is Elaine, the first thought is to be that those legs belong to Elaine. Think again, Mrs. Robinson has angrily decided to speak with Ben and basically tells him he cannot pursue her daughter or she will spill everything about their affair. The “is he going to get caught ? factor comes to your mind as you’re watching this scene unfolds and creates a dramatic suspense for the viewer.
It showed the viewer the true emotions and feelings that were being discussed on Mrs. Robinson’s part. She selfishly did not want to lose her affairs she had been having with Ben, to his new pursuit of her daughter. The scene in which Ben seems to be in a here and now mindset, is when Ben is walking away from his parents dining room and then into the hotel room he is sharing with Mrs. Robinson is edited in a way that gives the viewer the impression that he is disconnected from his parents and would rather spend his time caught up in an affair, rather than with his parents.
Another use of this same method of editing that we see is when we see the first shot with a large depth of field as Ben runs into the Robinson house and heads to Elaine’s room. The camera is positioned upstairs and is not moving at all. As a viewer we are forced to follow Ben’s entrance. A wide lens was used in this scene so that we can notice how much distance Ben covers on his run to Elaine’s room. Once Ben confesses his secret romance that he has had with her mother, Elaine’s face comes into focus as she is faced with this huge secret of the man she has fallen for and her mother.
Focus was used to transition and present the viewer with what Elaine is now thinking. After Elaine is utterly disgusted and wants nothing to do with Ben, the camera pulls back from Mrs. Robinson’s image in the corner of the room. By using this zoom effect it emphasizes the distance that Ben has now created between himself and Mrs. Robinson knowing that there will never be another chance with her again. The creative cinematography used in “The Graduate” is expressed through depth, zoom, and also editing that allows the audience to understand and sympathize with each character through the film.
Barsam, Richard, and Dave Monahan. Looking At Movies. New York, New York:
Norton & Company, Incorporated, W.W., 2012.
Moura, Gabriel. “Montage.