The Graduate Sequence Analysis

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The Graduate Sequence Analysis
One sequence in The Graduate where many elements of the mise-en-scene are present is the scene where Ben Braddock’s parents are throwing him a pool party for his twenty-first birthday, and they ask him to come out of the house and show off their present to him, a scuba suit. Even though Ben’s parents claim that this is a birthday party for Ben, his parents have only invited their friends. This makes the audience question whether Ben actually has any friends to invite, maybe explaining his awkwardness, or is the party just another excuse for his parents to flaunt their material possessions to their own friends? For example, when announcing Ben’s entrance into the party, Mr. Braddock mentions to everyone how much the scuba suit cost him, an unnecessary detail. A young man turning twenty-one is an important turning point in the bridge from youth to manhood. This transition is what Ben is struggling with throughout the film to try and find his identity. This theme is highlighted in this sequence of the film. The physical setting for the sequence is the outdoor pool at the Braddock house in Southern California. The materialism portrayed in the Southern California setting is contrasted later in the film when Ben visits Elaine at college in Berkeley, California which is intellectual and immaterial. The sequence is enhanced by the costumes worn by the characters. Ben is forced to wear a scuba suit, complete with a spear gun, by his parents on his own birthday while everyone else at the party is dressed appropriately. Ben’s outfit adds to the overly exaggerated awkwardness of his character, a theatrical portrayal. Also, almost his entire body is covered by the scuba suit, suggesting that Ben wants to hide from the world. The most important element of the mise-en-scene used in the sequence is the water in the pool. The water is used to show Ben’s cloudy sense of identity. For example, while in the pool he looks up at the people...
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