Some great family friends of mine went out of their way to give me a special edition VHS copy of the 1967 classic “The Graduate” as a high school graduation gift. I was thrilled to receive it, and I very much enjoyed it. In retrospect, however, I would have loved it even more if they had given it to me after I had graduated from college as, like Benjamin Braddock, I found myself feeling lost and alienated following that momentous occasion, and the film would have given me something necessary to relate to.
As the opening credits to “The Graduate” begin, we see Benjamin standing listlessly on one of those automated walkways in the airport, and he looks absolutely lost. I love how the camera is positioned as Benjamin is to the right, and there is a big piece of space ahead of him. On one hand, this allows for the opening credits to be displayed without any distractions, but it also illustrates the distance Ben feels from everything around him. This feeling is perfectly accentuated here by one of the classic songs from the 1960’s, “The Sound of Silence” sung by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.
I love the opening credits because they perfectly set up Benjamin Braddock for the rest of the film. He has just graduated from college, obtained his undergraduate degree, and now the rest of his life is ahead of him and he looks like a deer caught in the headlights. “The Graduate,” from there, follows his attempts to find some meaning in his life which includes an ill-fated affair with Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), and his parents treating him like a prized trophy. No wonder we see Ben hiding from the world by diving underneath the water. At least there, he can find some temporary peace from the craziness surrounding him.
Please feel free to check out the opening credits to “The Graduate” down below: