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Paper 2 - Woo 1 Kristie Woo Antonieta Mercado DOC 3...

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Woo 1 Kristie Woo Antonieta Mercado DOC 3: Imagination, B17 24 May 2010 To Mold or Be Molded Contrary to today’s belief system, “being different” has not always been accepted or encouraged. During the 1960’s the United States went through such a revelation as a group of young, rebellious students rose to challenge the “liberal consensus” that claimed equality and peace had been achieved in America. In the wake of numerous movements taking place including the non-violent civil rights movement and the politically charged student movement, many of young people took charge by breaking loose from the “cultural straightjacket” and accepted norms of society. Although these rebels were from different social, economical, political, and racial backgrounds, they were alike in the way they banded together to declare what they thought was right—through song, protest, or taking direct action. In a similar fashion, main character Ben Braddock of director Mike Nichol’s film The Graduate , is a young college graduate who takes on an existential view and challenges a “master plan” of his own, determined to shape a “different” future. At first apathetic and lacking agency, his life takes a defining turn when one night, a family friend seduces him. Suddenly intrigued by this unexplored risqué world, Ben takes his chances as he dives in—risking perhaps all that he had set out to find. In the process of his search, Ben undergoes a metamorphosis and discovers many obstacles he must learn to overcome and gaps that he must fill. It is during his 21 st birthday celebration where Ben is thrown into to a swimming pool that Nichol uses the pool as a symbol of the conformity Ben and the student movement waged war against, the filming of
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Woo 2 Ben isolated in scuba diving gear to illustrate the generational gap between himself and his parents, and Ben’s unclear and curious fading away in the conclusion of the scene to represent the existentialist viewpoint of the 1960’s counterculture. Director Nichol creatively parallels Ben’s frustration with conformity with the swimming pool he is forced into. Ben’s parents have thrown him a 21 st birthday celebration, and it is time for Ben to make his grand entrance. As everyone chants for the birthday boy to come out, Ben traps himself inside the house, constantly deferring his father’s requests with excuses that he is not “ready to do this and needs extra time to talk” ( The Graduate ). Only after being sharply rebuked and persuaded does Ben unwillingly come out and dive into the pool where he is kept for the remainder of the scene. Ben even attempts a final act of defiance by trying to get out of the pool. Yet, his parents forcibly shove him back into the water, as if he belongs in the pool. Thus, Nichol connects the physical and mental control Ben’s parents have over him.
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