Special anniversary edition of 'Graduate' uses wide-screen format

October 09, 1992|By Scott Hettrick | Scott Hettrick,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

THE GRADUATE,

25TH ANNIVERSARY

SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION

(New Line, 1967)

Has it really been 25 years since Dustin Hoffman, as confused college grad Benjamin Braddock, was seduced by his girlfriend's mother (played by Anne Bancroft) in "The Graduate"?

If ever there was a landmark film, this is it. On every level, "The Graduate" was a ground-breaker. It introduced audiences to the concept of a sexy older woman. It established a new standard for the integration of pop music on the soundtrack, with such unforgettable Simon and Garfunkel tunes as "Mrs. Robinson." And, of course, it gave us Dustin Hoffman.

Director Mike Nichols pioneered several new techniques in the film that are now considered fundamental elements of filmmaking: the use of the telephoto lens to make it appear as if Braddock was making no progress as he ran desperately toward the camera. Cutting to the sound of the next scene before taking the audience there visually. And putting the camera behind swimming goggles with only the sound of breathing accompanying the hand-held camera. These were just a few of the previously relatively unseen techniques that mesmerized moviegoers in 1967.

And while audiences were dazzled with these camera and editing innovations, they were engrossed in the compelling and controversial story, disarmed by the witty and rapid-fire dialogue, and finally shocked by a couple of flashes of a completely naked woman (a body double for Ms. Bancroft).

New Line Home Video's 25th-anniversary edition is a must-own cassette if only because it presents the film in its original wide-screen format, which is crucial to fully appreciate the immaculate framing of each shot that is often as critical to the effectiveness of a scene as the dialogue.

The new edition also features a short film with interviews of the stars and crew members.

(An even better version was released several years ago on laser disc by the Voyager Co. that includes screen tests, descriptions of scenes that were cut from the film and a list of actors considered for the lead role, including Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Charles Grodin and Steve McQueen.)

Although all this extra material is fun, and the technical aspects of the film are intriguing, the ultimate success of the movie lies in its fundamentally brilliant story and characterizations of a 22-year-old uncertain of his next step in life, his parents, who cannot relate to his uncertainty, and a frustrated housewife and mother who seeks happiness where it is most convenient.

The provocative 106-minute film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and should have won in every category. It ranks as one of the most flawless films ever photographed.

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