When The Graduate premiered in December 1967, its filmmakers had modest expectations for what seemed to be a small, sexy art-house comedy adapted from an obscure first novel by an eccentric twenty-four-year-old. There was little indication that this offbeat story – a young man just out of college has an affair with one of his parents’ friends and then runs off with her daughter – would turn out to be a monster hit, with an extended run in theaters and seven Academy Award nominations. While turning the word plastics into shorthand for soulless work and a corporate, consumer culture, The Graduate sparked a national debate about “the generation gap.” Beverly Gray offers a smart close reading of the film itself as well as never-before-revealed details from behind the scenes – including all the drama and decision-making of the cast and crew. Seduced by Mrs. Robinson brings to light The Graduate’s influence on the future of filmmaking and explores how it rocked the late-sixties world, reflecting and changing the era’s views of sex, work, and marriage.
Seduced by Mrs. Robinson: How “The Graduate” Became the Touchstone of a Generation
March 29, 2018
Discussion Questions Courtesy of Beverly Gray
General questions about movies:
- Do films change lives? Is there a film that has changed your life?
- Which movies best capture the era in which you came of age?
- Do movies shape people’s lives in ways that books do not? If so, why?
- Where were you in the politically and socially turbulent year 1967?
- Why was this film so hugely popular? Has it remained on your radar?
- Does The Graduate have something to say to younger moviegoers? Does it have anything to add to the #MeToo discussion now underway?
- If this film is a Rorschach test, how do you connect to it?
- Did you identify with any of the characters? If so, whom?
- What’s the role of women in The Graduate?
- Does Elaine’s behavior make any sense? And that of Mrs. Robinson?
- What does The Graduate have to say about marriage? Is it positive, negative, both?
- What’s the source of Ben’s anxiety at the start of the film? By the end, has he changed?
- How do you view the film’s ending? Did you see it differently when the film was new?
- Why focus on an old movie anyway?
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