The Graduate: 40th Anniversary Edition

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

The end of the sixties brought along a lot of new kinds of filmmaking inspired by the European filmmakers who were making a killing on films earlier in the decade with their unique visions and alternative narratives. Out of one such unique vision, there lied a director who’s first film had an impact both with audiences and critics and in black and white raised a lot of eyebrows with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. That director is Mike Nichols and for his next film, he tells a tale in living blushing color about a love triangle that tells the tale of a past. present and future of The Graduate.

Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) has just graduated and has absolutely no idea what the future may hold. Although many give him suggestions, he takes them and passes along the time not thinking too much about them. One night after a party at his parents house, a family friend Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) needs a ride home but not before long a few minutes turns into a lot longer as when Benjamin brings her home, there’s a lot more in store for him and her and the effects there after will change Benjamin for the rest of his life.

This was an early memory of mine especially the promos on Channel 11 in New York where the climax would be featured many times and with those memories and as I got older I got to understand the movie better and with that being said, The Graduate is a film that grows on all with its unique editing that got shunned at the Oscars along with the vivid palette the film brings in darker and lighter moments but a most unique tone that many films have tried to duplicate but in the end could not come close to having the same impact as this film.

The film keeps things going thanks to a snappy script by the great Buck Henry and with the acting by all, The Graduate makes one question what to do with ones life when many try to rush you through to their fast track but realize if a few steps are taken back and the big picture is revealed, the future looks like a much further thing than one possibly can imagine. It’s a film that warrants multiple views for its laughs, its serious moments and reliving the experience which are three things that signify any great movie with many viewers and does one thing a lot of movies fail to do today, balance comedy and tragedy with just the right elements without diminishing its effect.

Video: How does it look?

he Graduate is in its umpteenth release (this reviewer has officially lost count) in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and the results on this version happen to be the best of all the releases for this transfer finally makes a balance between colors and night and day for there’s hardly a scratch to be found on this print. The days are just right without too many halos present and the nights hardly show any debris and even though the film has the look of a film of that time, the visual result on this DVD is far superior than any film of that time.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track doesn’t have the same effect as the visual transfer does but it manages to be a decent one capturing the sound quality of that time. The Simon and Garfunkel music clearly dominates most of the side channels and this being mostly a film of dialogue and editing it is no great marvel audibly as there is nothing unclear about the dialogue as it comes out nicely through all channels but not a glowing example of the positive effects of the 5.1 track as it still sounds like a film of its time with its limitations in sound. This disc also has a English 5.1 DTS track and a English and French Mono track along with English and Spanish subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Here is where the 40th Anniversary Edition beats out all past versions of The Graduate and makes it leaps and bounds ahead of all the rest. Although there are MGM promos for their products, one that has gotten past, with the Simon and Garfunkel music around the menus, the disc has 2 commentary tracks and we start with the dynamic duo of director Mike Nichols accompanied by director Steven Soderbergh in another great student and teacher commentary that equals that of Virginia Woolf and Catch 22.

From their first track together, it has been a great pairing watching the film and discussing the making of it along with a few details told now and then that remain great chats that are open for surprise by the viewer and consistantly a learning lesson for anyone to hear directly from the filmmaker and a fellow filmmaker of the inner makings of a film. Now can they sit in a booth to update Carnal Knowledge once and for all??? This track has been a long time coming and with this great pair, the wait is very much worth it.

The second commentary is from actors Dustin Hoffman and Katherine Ross and at first this viewer thought that it was not going to be as informative as the other but interestingly enough, I was wrong. This commentary has a few gaps but it tells a very good perspective between Ross and Hoffman of the actors point of view and their reflections on the film beautifully to make for another very good commentary between actors and two solid ones at that.

Next up is Students of The Graduate where other filmmakers give their view on the impact this film has given them as filmmakers and as fans of the film as well. Its other featurette The Seduction goes a little into the characters but retains most of the same players as Students and they both make for interesting featurettes.

Brought over from one of its previous releases is The Graduate at 25 and even retaining the New Line Video logo, it remains a good piece and repeats a lot of info already revealed to us but from the perspective of 1992. Hoffman, Ross and Buck Henry remain on here and it carries over into the big Interview with Dustin Hoffman from around the same time discussing the film. All their presence is always welcomed and this viewer is glad both from seeing it in its days on VHS is retained here on the DVD.

Finishing off this edition are two theatrical trailers and a bonus CD of some of the tunes featured in the film.

After many films that have come and gone on DVD and some of the greats reissued, one asks this question. Isn’t it nice to have the original logo retained on a movie such as this one when many others have theirs cheaply plastered with a new one without the same effect of what one viewed at the time? That is the case on this edition of The Graduate and it’s extras along with the film itself make this the definitive edition on DVD.

Disc Scores