April 28, 2014

NETFLIX PICKS | The Graduate (Oh, How Pertinent)

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As this is my final Netflix Pick before I leave the Hill, I figured I should find a film or television show pertinent to this stage of my life to recommend. I went through plenty of them. From Glory Daze with Ben Affleck to the ABC Family classic series Greek, I dug well into the recesses of Netflix streaming possibilities, but nothing fully resonated with me. So I went with the classic; a film that in its title fully encapsulates this stage in my life and that of my fellow graduates. I went with the Mike Nichols’ 1967 film, The Graduate.

My first exposure to The Graduate was in a cinema class I took in 10th grade. We went through all the basic high points of cinema from Chaplin’s Modern Times to Hitchcock’s Rear Window to Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. Then came this film that taught us the importance of a great soundtrack. It was also a coming-of-age film, maybe a little more out in the future for us, but regardless, the feeling of “What now?” is pretty universal after any milestone in life. So I remember sitting there, fighting the urge to nap, only truly enamored by that soundtrack. I mean you can’t go wrong with Simon and Garfunkel, can you? “The Sound of Silence” is still one of my favorite songs of all time, and its timing in the film is a brilliant fit. As for the actual narrative of the movie … well, it just wasn’t for me at the time. And now that I have revisited it, I have to say that I finally got it and I loved it.

As its name implies, the film follows a recent college graduate as he is “drifting,” trying to find direction when the path to take is no longer clear. He enters an affair with a family friend that is twice his age, the infamous Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), and then later falls in love with her daughter, Elaine (Katherine Ross). It’s all a whirlwind, and you feel just as lost as young Ben Braddock (Dustin Hoffman). Therein lies the relatability of the film. Yes, some of you may have graduate school or a job lined up for after graduation. Major kudos to you for having something figured out. For the rest of you, like me, struggling to find jobs or even a sense of what is you want to do, want to see, etc., the film captures that exact sensation. You, too, will have adults constantly berating you about your future or offering their nuggets of so-called wisdom (one of the more famous lines in the movie is when Mr. McGuire tells Ben about the future of “plastics” which coincidentally caused quite a success in the industry after the release of the film). Yet, no matter what they say or advise, we have to make our own decisions and figure it all out on our own. And when school has been the only definite path in our lives so far, it’s difficult to gauge what real life is or should be for us.

Now I may sound slightly cynical or melancholic, but rest assured that I am neither one of those things as I embark on this scary new aspect to life. I am optimistic that I will find a job in the next few months, that I will discover more about myself and the person that I want to be, that I will somehow conquer this new status quo. Remember that we’re so young with plenty left to experience and learn. That diploma supposedly dictates or at least suggests that we are intellectuals, ready for the workplace, ready for life. Yes, it is one of the many successes that we all will have in our lives. I mean, I know I’ve been to hell and back for this piece of paper that I will one day hang in my office or study. But now it’s time to live for ourselves. Accomplish what we deem necessary to accomplish for our ultimate happiness. We’ll get lost. We’ll make poor decisions. We’ll walk aimlessly in some dark recesses. But we’ll have a story. Do it for the story. You never know what will come out of drifting in the pool as Simon and Garfunkel plays in the background.