My Mother’s Graduate


For this project, I chose to recut Mike Nichols’ 1960’s classic The Graduate.  The movie is a drama about a boy who just graduated from college, unsure of what he wants to do in life.  He is seduced by one of his parents’ friends and then later falls in love with her daughter.  I changed the genre to a thriller in which the girl’s mother and boyfriend

“The Graduate” Movie Poster

conspire to kill her.  The project was surprisingly really fun and not too hard.  I actually watched The Graduate after we saw a clip in class as an example of a good match cut.  While I was watching it, I was aware of this project we had looming in the somewhat near future, and I noticed there were many scenes that seemed to be really eerie looking.  Needless to say I’ve been thinking of using The Graduate for this project for awhile now.

Specific Links to Course Readings

Stefan Palko says that “the earliest trailers, before the advent of sound, were rudimentary assemblies of scenes cut from upcoming films” (Palko, 2006).  This quote defines exactly what we had to do for this project: compile clips from a movie and transform them into your own take on a specific genre.  Sobchack says that “the use of less individualized characters sets up the basis for the existence of Aristotelian catharsis by allowing for an increase in empathy by the audience.   Being so much their exteriors, genre characters allow us to easily assume their roles” (Sobchack, 200).  It can be understood that Anne Bancroft’s character, Mrs. Robinson, is a malicious seductress by her good looks and serious glances.  Dustin Hoffman’s character, Ben Braddock, gives off a young, vulnerable vibe, and Katherine Ross’s character, Elaine Robinson, is the typical pretty girl next door.  It is necessary for the film-maker to establish these roles, so the viewer doesn’t get confused.  Sobchack’s idea correlates with the idea of semiotics.

Semiotics, of course, play a big role in the making of any film and the trailer that goes along with it.  He says “a movie is a highly complex act of communication, and no act of communication is effective unless it takes into account how the recipient will receive it…[the film-maker needs] to know how the images produced will be understood by the audience and work upon their imaginations moment by moment” (Edgar-Hunt, 17).  While I was watching the movie to look for clips to use in my recut trailer, I noticed how easy it would be to change the genre of The Graduate because the roles I wanted the characters to take on were already obvious.  I was able to successfully piece together a whole new take on a movie through the film-maker’s general characterization.

Rationale for Creative Choices

I began the trailer-making process by watching The Graduate once through and jotting down clips that were eerie-looking and could be seen from a thriller perspective.  I knew I wanted to use the opening song from the movie “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel, since the movie is composed entirely with their songs.  I begin the trailer by playing the original version of the song, then I transition into a heavy metal version that I found on YouTube by a band named Atrocity.  I used a heavy metal version to give the trailer a spooky feel.  The first thing the viewer sees while watching my trailer is the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion and then the Embassy Pictures logo.  The music begins playing in the background to prepare the viewer for what they are about to see.  The next clips shown are a sequence of introductory scenes that are intermittent with screens of words on them.  For example, a black screen with the words “A boy” will show right before what Bernard Dick would call a close-up shot of Dustin Hoffman.  I introduce all of the characters that way until the song changes to a faster beat.  From that point on, a string of serious shots from the movie show Mrs. Robinson and Ben conspiring and seem like they’re devising a plan to kill Elaine Robinson.  At one section of the trailer, the audio from the movie can be heard as Mrs. Robinson says very sternly “Do exactly as I say” and then a clip of Elaine screaming follows.  The trailer ends with a long-ish shot zooming in slowly on Mrs. Robinson.

Frustrations, Difficulties, and Solutions

Since I’m usually the only person to have strange things go wrong with big projects like this, I was so surprised to find that I had no problems.  The movie uploaded within thirty minutes and there were no audio problems.  While I was working with Premiere, everything was synched together, I had no problems with the audio and video being slightly off.  The only difficulties I had were related to minor details of the trailer, like finding just the right spot in the heavy metal song to place the scene where Elaine’s screaming.  If I had to offer advice to future students working on this project, I would definitely say start the project early! I attribute the fact that I did that to the easiness I had in working on it.  I would also say pick a movie you are familiar with so you can easily find clips to use and know how to transition them into a different genre.  I had a lot of fun working on this project!

Works Cited

Bernard Dick (2002). “Film, space, and image,” excerpt from Anatomy of Film. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s.

Robert Edgar-Hunt, John Marland, and Steven Rawle (2010). The language of film. Lausanne: AVA Academia.

Stefan Palko. “Coming attractions/ Desktop Distractions. Image, 16.

Thomas Sobchak (1975, Summer). Genre film: A classical experience. Literature Film Quarterly, 3(3), 196.

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