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Die Reifeprüfung (The Graduate)
U.S.A. 1967

Opening 3 Aug 2017

Directed by: Mike Nichols
Writing credits: Calder Willingham, Buck Henry, Charles Webb
Principal actors: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross, William Daniels, Murray Hamilton

The Graduate will celebrate its 50th anniversary by returning with newly updated color and sound to the big screen. This is a wonderful opportunity for the many fans to see it again, full-size, and for a new generation to experience one of the most successful films in history, winner of many prizes and nominations, including Academy Awards, New York Film Critics Circle, Writers Guild of America, Golden Globes, BAFTA, and Grammys, to name some of the most familiar.

Benjamin Braddock (Hoffmann) graduates from college, age 21. He sits in a cloud of doom and depression next to the fish aquarium in his room in his parents’ beautiful home. Or he floats in the family swimming pool, or drives his graduation present: a red Alfa Romeo convertible. At least money is not a problem. He was a successful student: scholarship, school newspaper, debate club, etc., but now has no sense of a future, in spite of well-meaning advice from his parents and their friends. Life changes when he meets Mrs. Robinson (Bancroft), the wife of his father’s business partner. Over a period of time and many rendezvous at the Taft Hotel, she teaches him one more basic subject: sex. All is well until he becomes entangled with the Robinsons’ daughter Elaine (Ross), back on vacation from Berkeley University. Suddenly, he has a life’s goal, but will it be successful?

Dustin Hoffmann got his first big break with this film and he easily plays a 21-year-old, although he was already 30. (We, therefore, are also celebrating his 80th birthday.) Director Mike Nichols (then only 36) was already on his way to success, having just brought out Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Paul Simon provided the songs (some of which had already been composed before the film was even an idea) to be performed by himself and Art Garfunkel. Who doesn’t recognize “Mrs. Robinson” (“And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson
Jesus loves you more than you will know”), “The Sound of Silence” (“Hello darkness my old friend”), or “Scarborough Fair” (“Are you going to Scarborough Fair, Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme”). As was typical in the conservative 1960s, nudeness had no place on screen; all was left to your imagination, which Mike Nichols and his colleague Robert Surtees accomplish in excellent camera angles. However, 1967 was also on the verge of the hippie movement, so audiences were certainly ripe for something a bit over the edge of propriety (sleeping with an older married woman). The German title of this film which was based on the book by Charles Webb, translates to “test of maturity” which is an excellent, if perhaps ironic, description of the plot. A French film, also from 1967, Belle de Jour with Catherine Deneuve, has just opened in our cinemas. And now comes The Graduate. Perhaps this is the beginning of a wonderful new trend to bring back old, but unforgotten, films for reviewing on the big screen. (Becky Tan)

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