The Graduate & The Sound of Silence
Director: Mike Nichols
Writers: Calder Willingham (screenplay), Buck Henry (screenplay)
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross
The Graduate will be released in cinemas on Friday, 23rd of June to celebrate its 50th anniversary, with a pristine new 4K restoration.
One of the most noticeable things about seeing the re-release of the Graduate, is the importance of music in the film. There are many scenes where they use music to show the ennui that Hoffman’s character, Benjamin Braddock, is experiencing. The Sound of Silence and other songs play out in full, while the actor is shown carrying on his daily life, lost in a funk. These scenes simply would not have worked without the soundtrack and in an interview carried out with Time Out magazine in 2012, director Nichols talked about how he chose the songs.
“I’d been listening to their album every morning in the shower before I’d go to work, and then one morning it just hit me: ‘Schmuck! This is your soundtrack!’” Nichols said of “The Sound of Silence”. “It’s one of those miraculous moments you get when you’re making a movie, where everything somehow comes together. It’s better than sex. [Pause] Okay, maybe not better, but it’s indescribably fantastic.”
The soundtrack is unusual as it is pieced together from Simon and Garfunkel’s earlier work, Nichols was one of the first directors to put together a soundtrack in this way. There is one new song, as Mrs. Robinson was written by Simon directly for the film, but was only used in a fragmented form. The song was later released in 1968 and became their second number one hit. The film is said to have introduced Simon and Garfunkle’s work to an older generation and enhanced their stature.
The Graduate was a massive success and helped launch the career of the then unknown Hoffman, along with cementing the status of director Nichols. When asked about why he chose Hoffman for the part, Nichols gave the following response:
“We literally saw hundreds (of actors)! That’s not an exaggeration. I remember having seen Dustin in a play about a year earlier, where he played a transvestite Russian housewife. He was compelling and I thought, here’s an actor who’s got something going on. He tested okay in front of us, but when we watched the actual screen test, he was great! I’m convinced Dustin had a secret deal with the film labs, where his performance got better in the developing bath overnight. [Laughs]”
While Simon and Garfunkel were obviously on an upward trajectory regardless of the film, it certainly helped introduce them to a main stream audience. The film went on to be a major box office success and is still listed at number 22 in the highest grossing films of all time in American and Canada. Hoffman’s career went on to similar levels of success, eventually winning two best actor awards for Kramer vs. Kramer in 1980, and for Rain Man in 1989.
“Hide it in the hiding place where no one ever goes
Put it in your pantry with your cupcakes
It’s a little secret just the Robinson’s affair
Most of all you’ve got to hide it from the kids”