It seems almost incomprehensible to me that a film like The Graduate could be made in today's Hollywood. Consider the adulterous and predatory Mrs. Robinson and her naive (if willing) victim Benjamin. Consider also the fact that once spurned by the object of his desire (and with good reason) Ben becomes a stalker and that the result of his obsessive behavior is the achievement of his ultimate goal. That we find these themes so disturbing speaks volumes about the current state of the American psyche.
When we strip away the patina of contemporary political correctness we're left with a lyrically beautiful film, a film that spoke to a generation. The movie is rife with poetic images, subtle social commentary and cinematography that brings to mind the paintings of David Hockney and their reflections on the empty lifestyle of southern California's nouveau riche. The Graduate is a successful film in every respect, never seeming to strike a bad note. It's a shame that our over-sensitivity to issues that in the grand scheme of things are fairly minor preclude a studio film of this nature from emerging again any time soon.
The transfer on this most recent release of The Graduate seems to be the same one used on the 25-anniversary laserdisc. The film elements are in fairly good shape with only minor scratches and holes. The projectionists marks at the end of each reel are there but aren't overly distracting. The colors are nicely saturated with no bleed, though they seem a touch muted in some scenes. Black levels and shadow detail are good and I was unable to detect any flaws related to compression of the material for DVD.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby 2.0 stereo and sounds very good. The songs are nicely mixed, never covering up dialogue and the voices themselves are rich and easily understandable throughout. The overall dynamic range seems wider than I remember from the laserdisc and withstands high volume levels without appreciable distortion.
The primary extra on the disc is a very interesting hour long documentary covering everything from the writing of the script to the reaction of critics and the public upon the film's release. The documentary includes interviews with Dustin Hoffman, Katherine Ross, Buck Henry and others. Also in the documentary (and of particular interest) is footage of Ms. Ross' screen test for the film. A separate video track presents an extended cut of the Dustin Hoffman interview in which he goes into much greater detail on his involvement with the film that made him a major star. The original theatrical trailer is included but it's in very bad shape with battered frames and faded color. Finally there's a nice eight page printed booklet with production notes, stills and a brief explanation of widescreen format.
The Graduate is a phenomenal film that remains as entertaining today as the day it was released. I would have liked to see a little more ancillary content and a more complete restoration job on the film itself but these are minor points. The bottom line is that The Graduate deserves a place in any serious film fan's library.