I was bummed on the passing away of Mike Nichols not long ago. I studied the film “The Graduate” many times from college through my career. It works in a variety of narrative and psychological ways for me at different stages in my life, and had a similar effect that Erice/Kubrick/Polansky/ films did or Thomas/Johnston “Illusion of Life” book did, in that I always get something different with every reading throughout my life. For this reason I wanted to bring up a scene (included below) that I always loved and did something new at a time were endings all felt similar. Don’t watch if you haven’t watch the entire film. It’s a fantastic film and can’t be recommended enough (as most Mike Nichols’ films).
The scene in particular has always been inspiring to me. As soon as we get to the bus all sorts of things happen. But what I love about it is that nothing gets spelled. It challenges my mind/heart as to what Ben/Elaine’s fate and journey is but is never answered. I’m left with emotions and my own interpretations. What’s fantastic in it, is the internal back and forth dialogue between them after what’s just happened and all the subtext that comes with it. The fact that Ben’s character is not even looking at her for the rest of the shot is a great choice as well. I compiled a few of the images from the clip which I found fantastic to study.
This particular example, similar to Glazer’s Birth scene isn’t about analyzing what the scene or their acting choices meant or what the characters were thinking. I doubt the point of it all was to answer any those questions. Marriage is an uncertain thing, so Mike Nichols planted this seed instead of cutting right after the happy note. I love that it left me with a thought and a feeling to take with me.