Please describe and discuss the purpose and function of the famous montage sequence in the film, The Graduate.
What function does it serve for the film and why are the editing choices made important in the success of this famous montage sequence? What does the impact of the music have on the montage as well?
In Mike Nichols 1967 film, The Graduate, the montage is effective as a revelation of character as well as a poetic expression of point of view. In the opening scene, Ben is seen passively floating in his pool, languidly drinking a beer, turning over onto his stomach with absolutely no expression on his face. He seems totally detached from his parents who are cooking on the grill on the deck of the pool. Paying no attention to them, he drops off the float and languidly climbs the pool steps to put on a white shirt. As he appears to enter the house, the merges into the bland hotel room where stands Mrs. Robinson with her back turned to him. Ben passively lies on the bed looking blankly before him as Mrs. Robinson sits down and unbuttons his shirt. Then, he is back in his room, still wearing the white shirt. Still detached from his parents, he closes the door as they turn to look up from the nearby table where they are with some wonderment on their countenances.
As expression of the disillusioned and rebellious youth of the sixties who explored new ideologies in college only to find the status quo--"Ben, think plastics!"--the montage is the poetic collage of this youth. Disappointed, disillusioned, they turn to The Sounds of Silence,"Darkness my old friend," who will black out any thought and withdraw them from the reality of their 'plastics" world. The music, the scenes, express the passage of time with no communication between Ben and his parents. Clearly there is an expression of the great generation gap between the parents and children of the sixties and Benjamin's isolation and despondency and avoidance of his future, even after he wins Elaine (he looks straight ahead with a somewhat puzzled look as they ride the bus).