The Historical Time in Which The Graduate Was Produced

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The graduate is the movie I have chosen to analyze. It is directed by Mike Nichols who is the best winner of adapted screenplay, an academic honor for being the top director and seven other appointments.  Mike's conscientious management and the screenplay's strong configuration stood the test of time before becoming to be known to have a classic. The story in "The Graduate" film is about a recent graduate called Ben Braddock who found himself snared in the superficial world around him. When the wife of his father's business partner, Mrs. Robinson advanced on him, Ben hesitated to start an affair with her. However, Ben realized he has a strong attachment to her daughter Elaine which clashed his affairs with Mrs. Robinson. Nevertheless, he was heartbroken and went back to square one when he confessed his affair to Elaine. Ben realized that Elaine was getting married. He decided to take arms against his troubles and managed to win Elaine. The movies end with an illustrious shot of Ben and Elaine at the back of a bus wearing a blank expression on their faces (Nichols n.d). However, this paper seeks to determine the historical era in which the film was produced, the main historical influences and the impact of these influences on the film.

The historical time in which "The Graduate" was produced

The "Graduate" film was released on December 23, 1967. It was written by Buck Henry and Willingham Calder. The movie was based on the 1963 Novel authored by Charles Webb who wrote after graduating shortly from Williams College. The movie received positive reviews in U.S.A and Canada and made gross returns of $110 million (Belton 54). During this period there was ongoing Vietnam War. In November 1967, the number of American troops was approaching around 500,000. The number of U.S casualties killed at this time was around 16, 040 people and 110, 000 were wounded.  Some soldiers came in disagreement with the federal government for keeping them there as the war stretched on.  The soldiers also mistrusted the government for false claims in Washington that the war was being won. As the year advances, most of the American soldiers were deteriorating both physically and psychologically. Other soldiers including the volunteers and draftees developed post-traumatic stress disorder and drug use. More than 410,000 American military personnel deserted from 1966 to 1968. During this period, it raised a large anti-war movement among the U.S military forces to protest the mass killing and incarceration of American personnel that was stationed in Vietnam as well as the United States.  In October 1967, the American on the home front turned against the war after being flooded with dreadful images of the war in their televisions. Around 40,000 protesters scaffold a colossal Vietnam War dissented outside the Pentagon (McMahon 102). The rivals of war deemed that American were supporting a corrupt dictatorship in Saigon and the civilians, friendly combatants, were the main victims.

In December 1967, the leadership of Hanoi communist was becoming impatient with good supplies from the U.S.A to its militants. The leadership decided to strike a blow to force Americans to give up the hope of success. Therefore, they launched a Tet Offensive at the end of 1967 with 72,000 DRV forces under General VO Nguyen Ngiap. It was coordinated to attack fiercely more than 110 cities and municipalities in South of Vietnam. The U.S.A and South Vietnamese responded in surprise even though they managed to strike back quickly. However, the U.S public was stunned by the report of Tet Offensive especially when it was found that Westmoreland had requested an additional of 210,000 troops but falsely claims wars in Vietnam have been won (McMahon 106). Johnson ordered the bombing progressing in North Vietnam to stop since his approval ratings were dropping and it was an election year. He pledged to commit his remaining term looking for peace rather than re-election.

Main historical influences on the film

Though the Vietnam War was raging, 1967 was the banner year for Hollywood. The college-age baby boomer turned out for a wide selection of movies, flushing with unrestricted income to classify the grown-up world they were hovering to come into. Some of the movies reflected the concerns of the civil rights era were "Guess Who is Coming to Dinner" and "In the Heat of the Night" (Belton 58). The "Graduate" on its plane is an escapist movie about the possibility of bliss, sex, and love. It has the story that makes no claim to an understanding about a college graduate enticed into sex by the wife of his father's business associate and then elopes with her beautiful daughter called Elaine. The movies spoke so vociferously to a society that found itself entangled in Vietnam War instructed by preceding generation. In 1962, Charles Webb wrote a novel on which the film was based. The filmmaker had anticipated their story as set in this year. However, the story took different shadings in the 1960s (Nichol n.d). In 1967, President Johnson signed a refurbished Military Selective Service Act while the film was still in production.

The act was to signify that the adjournments of the most graduate students within the year would come to an end and any able-bodied male was to be immediately a draft fodder if not enrolled in a college in his 20s. Many moviegoers perceived "The Graduate" as a picture of a young man having a hard time to adapt in a demographic environment that he has no control over it. The film also was deemed to be subversive by clergy, politicians, and pundit and it was banned to the pulpits. Though the movie was hardly seen in the country, the military brass in Vietnam tended to agree it is a comical yowl against the status quo they were endangering their lives to protect. After the film made its first appearance, some young men were not satisfied though (GRAY 66). When Mike Nichol and Hoffman acted as Benjamin visited different college campuses to show the film, the student activists could ask them why is not about Vietnam War. The students thought the director Nichol has dismissed the war as a ‘fashionable topic'. The year later, Nichol complained that making a movie during the period of Vietnam War to young people that was not addressing the Vietnam War, was an insult.

Nichol was 35 years when producing "The Graduate" and in his suggestions, anyone above 30 years in 1967 was not trusted by many college baby boomers. He felt that he could grasp enough to satisfy the students of that era where the Vietnam War was a concern of life-or-death. However, there was one key point that Nichol and the student activists who were confronting him overlooked about "The Graduate". The young men were anxious about the path that their post-graduation will lead even though they had young women they wanted to entertain in the movies and fear over military draft (GRAY 66-68).

How do historical influences impact the film?

"The Graduate" outshined every movie released during its time for connecting with the totally distorted mood of American youth though it avoided all discussion of an overseas military conflict. The fictional Benjamin Braddock who was preoccupied with his future from the very first time inspired many college baby boomers who feared the military draft and worried about the life of post-graduation. The large majority of college students in Benjamin age-group were firmly on his side despite some of the intellectuals and student activist claimed that Benjamin was the most hopeless of rebels (GRAY 68). However, most students found heroic nature in Benjamin who they came to understand with an astonishing lucidity that the adults who were his seniors in many years ago did not have his best interests at heart. They found that Benjamin was shocked to realize Mrs. Robinson was just seeking to use his body for her selfish satisfaction and also he was resisted by the materialism of his parents.

Benjamin may not be involved in protesting the meaningless war in Vietnam but he showed an overdue willingness to break practices and emasculate the corrupt values of his elders by breaking up a church wedding and elope with a bride. However, young audiences perceived "The Graduate" as a warning against older generation on seducing young people for their selfish pleasure calling for an action (GRAY 69). People like Benjamin who were beginning to question the rule of the game were energized by implicit endorsement of film on social resistance. In the last episode of the film, Elaine and Benjamin sit at the rear side of the bus after escaping from Elaine's wedding. The question of what lies ahead of them transformed their faces from elation to anxiety. At the beginning of the movie, Benjamin made it clear that he wanted to have somehow a different future (Nichol n.d). Although we don't understand where the two are headed, their running away from the traditional practices is an inspiration to the young rebels to make an independent decision towards the increasing involvement of American in Vietnam War. The film influences the older Americans who felt compelled to voice their anti-war sentiment to resolve the deepening American involvement in Vietnam War (GRAY 69). They all rose to oppose the establishment of incursions into South East Asia as a way of paying ultimate attribute to "The Graduate".


"The Graduate" is a movie that gives a story of young man who graduated but found himself in "plastic" world. Love, sex, and happy-for-ever moods are the themes that surface on the film. "The Graduate" movie was produced in December 1967 by Nichol and Hoffman. Hoffman starred Benjamin. This was during the historical period of Vietnam War. In American casualties, around 15,000 people were killed and over 100,000 were wounded.  The historical period influenced the production of "The Graduate" negatively. The film was deemed to be subversive by clergy, politicians, and pundit and it was banned to the pulpits. Making a movie during this historical period to young people that was not talking about Vietnam, was an insult. The positive influence is that the military brass in Vietnam tended to agree the film is a comical yowl against the status quo they were endangering their lives to protect. Most students found heroic nature in Benjamin who they came to understand with an astounding intelligibility that the adults who were his seniors in many years ago did not have his best interests at heart. Benjamin and Elaine running away from the traditional practices was an inspiration to the young rebels to make an independent decision towards the increasing involvement of American in Vietnam War.

Works Cited

Belton, John. American Cinema/american Culture. 2018.

 GRAY, BEVERLY. Seduced by Mrs. Robinson: How the Graduate Became the Touchstone of a Generation. ALGONQUIN OF CHAPEL HILL, 2018.

McMahon, Robert J. "5. Turning Point The Vietnam War’s Pivotal Year, November 1967–November 1968." The Columbia History of the Vietnam War, 2010.

"The Graduate. Directed by Mike Nichols, Perf. Benjamin Braddock, Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroff, Elaine Robinson & Katherine Ross. 1963. Mike Nichols-Lawrence Turman, 1967.

September 25, 2023




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