The relationships that are formed between families have always remained a source of controversy. For most families, having either of their children get together in marriage comes as a welcomed resolution that strengthens their relations. However, there are instances where the dysfunctions that exist between two married couples affect the next generation in a manner that the parents did not anticipate. Discussing some of these nuances continues to be of social importance especially because they are recurrent in society. The novels that discuss such issues often become prime selections for movie adaptation as the themes that are presented in them are relatable and often timeless. Additionally, these films often have the potential of having their merits and in rare instances inspire sequels.
Film adaptations have continued to receive a great deal of criticism because of the differences that are often realized between the original source materials and the finished film. One challenge that the screenplay writer encounters when developing film adaptations is defining the narrative structure of the film (Coppieters). This can be very difficult given the difference in the structure and literary styles of novels and screenplays. Often, the writers must ensure that they are able to maintain the central tenets and themes explored in the book without losing the cinematic appeal that all great scripts have. Another problem that screenwriters encounter is their ability to define a central theme on which the narrative and plot are based (Coppieters). Screenwriters must ensure that they are able to selectively reiterate the mood and plot points that were laid out by the original author.
However, the film is different from novels as there are other considerations. Therefore, it is important to ensure that adaptations maintain some resemblance to the original source material, which the screenwriters can include in cinematic appeal. Often, screenwriters must ensure that they incorporate some of the descriptive excerpts from the novels to ensure that they are in a position to create a cinematic experience from the novel. It is important to ensure that when selecting novels that can be an adaptation, the use of the narrative description is a recurrent style that the author uses consistently (“Film Studies: Film Adaptations”). Having such a guide enables the screenwriter to mirror the concepts, moods, and themes that the original screenplay had.
Great movie adaptations manage to capture the vision of the author while leveraging the power of cinematic styles to bring out the performance of the actors.
Background of the Book
The Graduate is a classic American novel, written by Charles Webb in 1963. In the book, the author discusses a dysfunctional relationship between Ben, a graduate student, Mrs. Robinson, an older married woman who is friends with Ben’s father and Elaine, Mrs. Robinson’s daughter. The book is written as a dark comedy and seeks to investigate family dysfunction, broken marriages, parental expectations, and the nativity and disillusioned nature of youth. The author used Southern California as the setting for his work (Webb). The book offers an interesting take on how the pressures of life can lead an individual into making decisions or find themselves in situations that are unconventional and often frowned upon by society.
Benjamin Braddock is a graduate who has a party thrown in his behalf from his father. While the rest of his family is jubilant and excited to have their son back home, Ben seems very disillusioned. He feels that the pressure in his life after college is overwhelming and often finds him immersed in his own thoughts. In his view, the life that his parents have built for him is unrealistic, and he finds himself wanting to have more out of life compared to what he had hoped to become. Mrs. Robinson, Mr. Braddock’s friend, is an alcoholic in an unhappy marriage. She is intrigued by young Ben and, therefore, pursues him sexually. Ben is initially very resistant to her advances but ultimately begins an affair with Mrs. Robinson (Robinson). Given that the families are close, Ben falls in love with Elaine, Mrs. Robinson’s daughter which complicates his life.
Once, Mrs. Robinson discovers that Benjamin is actively pursuing Elaine she makes it clear to Ben that he should he give it up, or she will go to great lengths to ensure that he will never see Elaine again. Ben is defiant and persists with his pursuit for Elaine. It becomes apparent to Ben that he might be able to put the affair behind him if he tells Elaine about the affair he had with her mother. However, Elaine is completely angry at the thought and kicks Ben out. Upon sitting on the information for a while, Elaine confronts Benjamin who at the time decides to ask for her hand in marriage (Robinson). She is very ambiguous in her answer which is very unsettling for Ben.
As he keeps up his advances, Mrs. Robinson organizes Elaine to be married to Carl, another suitor for Elaine. By the time Ben can get in contact with Elaine, she is at her wedding to Carl. Ben calls out Elaine who is surprised and very positive about taking him back (Robinson). Without the consent of Mrs. Robinson, Elaine runs towards Ben and the two run away together.
Analysis of the Challenges
This novel reads very seamlessly. The dialogue between the characters is very snappy and, therefore, it was able to give the screenwriters a clear depiction of the mood that was being created by its author (Robinson). The plot points are very linear which makes developing the script easier. With the development of very relatable characters and distinct character arcs, the screenwriter’s main challenge for this novel was to find a limit to what they would include in the final film and what parts of the novel would be completely disregarded. It was important that the personalities of the characters as represented in the book be replicated and enhanced to ensure that there was a cinematic appeal (Nichols). From the movie adaptation, the screenwriters were able to bring to the big and small screen the characters in the book as represented by the Author.
Information on the Film Adaptation
The film was released on 22 December 1967 to an impressive reception. It was written in collaboration by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry. The cast of the movie included Ann Bancroft (Mrs. Robinson), Dustin Hoffman (Ben Braddock), and Kathrine Ross (Elaine Robinson). These were the main characters in the novel and the film. The film is categorized as a Comedy, Drama, Romance and it was able to deliver on all of these aspects. Like the book, the Film was also called ‘The Graduate’. The film was produced by Lawrence Turman and Mike Nichols directed it. It remains one of the best adaptations ever to be done. The film would go on to win an Oscar among 20 other awards, a testament to its success both commercially and critically.
Process of Adaptation
The narrative voice that was used in the novel was not incorporated in the film. The author had included lots of dialogue throughout the novel, which served as important marks through which the directors were able to use as cues for creating a great film adaptation. There were very little changes that were made in terms of the script. However, the persona taken by each character was different compared to the book. For instance, Ben seemed more disillusioned in the film than the way he was represented in the book. This perhaps might have been one of the critical tools through which the narrative voice in the book would manifest through the author. The production company was generous in its budget for the movie something that improved the production of the movie.
Dough Nichols was the directors of the film adaptation and therefore, took the responsibility for how audiences would receive the cinematic experience. As a book, the graduate sold millions of books but with the film adaptation, its total sales were in the hundreds of millions. The directors had a $3 million budget but were able to make a significant profit margin through the film. While most adaptations seek to find a unique tone and mood through which directors bring new meaning and feel to an old story, Nichols sought to take the original version of the book and recreate the events in the book with much more emphasis on the characters and their personalities. For instance, Ben was a more disillusioned character compared to the book, which is something that made the performance of the actors more relatable and brought the audience to a first-hand experience of some of the challenges that young adults face.
The decision to make the characters much more layered and deeper significantly improved how the movie portrayed the book characters. Audiences were able to understand and empathize with Ben and at the same time could master enough resentment for his actions and overall character arc. At the very end of the film when Elaine and Ben run away together, the directors were able to capture the emotions of both characters to a degree that the book version did not portray. It is in this sense that the decisions and choices that were made in the film adaptation significantly improved the commercial and critical success of the film. In a way, the book received much more acclaim than the book version that was put out by Charles Webb in 1963. While the writers stuck to the plot lines and even lifted some of the dialogue from the book, the directors were able to induce in the characters life that was not experienced by the readers into his film. The performance of the movie is a testament to its success as an adaptation.
There is wisdom in the way the production of the film was made. For instance, rather than creating a new storyline and taking the characters out of the context of the author’s vision, the directors wanted to immerse the audience even deeper into the narrative. This decision was an important and critical step through would appreciate the character development, juxtaposes and vision of Charles Webb. Readers of the book were impressed by its adaptation and fresh viewers of the film became fans of the book. This is a positive approach through which the directors would ensure that the successes of both book and film, in the end, fueled each other. Even in the 21st century, The Graduate as a film adaptation is still considered a classic film.
The screen writers were able to develop a romantic conclusion to the narrative in the last scene, where Robert and Elaine are seen running out of the church while Elaine is still in her wedding dress. They manage to haul a bus down and run right to the back of the bus. Their eyes are filled with joy and the last frame shows the two sitting side by side. In some way, the moral of this story is that true love overcomes all.
Overall, movie adaptations often tend to break from the narrative points of their source and seek to get inspiration from the themes that are represented in the books. However, the production of The Graduate saw a direct interpretation and adaptation where most of the original content, dialogue, and plot were retained. However, the actors were able to depict their understanding of the novel and their characters to an extent that further improved the success of this franchise. The strength of the story was good enough to make a film.
Credit must be given to the book whose narrative structure and character arches made it a strong consideration and source for the storytelling. Having such strong characters, and themes make the adaptation of the film and the cinematic appeal of the adaptation that much more interesting to watch. The film producers and directors were spot-on when it came to depicting the author’s vision, something that made fans of the book become fans of the film. In my opinion, the movie was a complete success which has gone down in history as one of the greatest films of the 20th Century. Even now, the film has sufficient replay value.
- The researchers was able to properly define the background of their subject and the importance of this background to the rest of the paper.
- The writer also was keen to give the objectives of the paper, through defining a thesis statement at the very beginning of the paper.
- The arguments presented in the paper were valid and had credible sources.
- The structure and delivery of the paper properly addresses the audience and ensures that they are able to understand the information being relayed.
- There is evidence that is offered as the writer was able to include in the report a list of references from where they got their information.
- The arguments are logical.
- Gives a great summary of the major points and themes that the writer wanted to relay
- The writer fails to mention any weaknesses in the paper
- It was able to deliver a conclusion where the audience was able to take home some message.
Speaking and Delivery
- Speaks audibly and understandably
- Is able to maintain eye contact with the audience throughout the presentation
- The presentation was well reheared
- The speaker exhibited proper use of body language
- The speaker observed proper time management
- The speaker was appropriately dressed
- The speaker gave room for questions at the end of the presentation.
“Film Studies: Film Adaptations”. Research Guides at Dartmouth. https://researchguides.dartmouth.edu/filmstudies/adaptations. Accessed 9 Feb 2019.
Coppieters, Ilse. “The Adaptation Process from Novel to Film: The Screenplay as Intertext”. arts.kuleuven.be. https://www.arts.kuleuven.be/cetra/papers/files/coppieters-1999.pdf. Accessed 9 Feb 2019.
Nichols, Mike, director. The Graduate. Embassy Pictures Corporation, 1967.
Robinson, Tasha. “Book Vs. Film: The Graduate”. avclub.com, 2009, https://www.avclub.com/book-vs-film-the-graduate-1798214264. Accessed 9 Feb 2019.
Webb, Charles. The Graduate. Rosettabooks, 2012.