Graduate In The Graduate, the director, Mike Nichols, emphasizes the mysterious tone of the film with his overuse of lighting, camera angles, and shadows. The uncertainty Benjamin Braddock feels can be seen right from the start as he stands on the moving sidewalk at the airport. He is positioned at the right hand side of the screen moving forward. You can see a large area to the left where the credits appear. I think the director chose this technique for the opening credits to symbolize how this graduate is arriving at a new destination & has much uncertainty in front of him.
Dark rooms with shadows are used heavily in this film. The director shows Benjamins room as dark and shadowy to parallel his personality. This is also seen in the Robinson house. Shadows everywhere with light on only part of the characters faces tells you that this is a house of mystery and uncertainty. The director places lights seemingly on the ground to cast huge shadows of the characters on the walls.
This makes you feel that the directors idea is to have the characters deepest secrets and personalities overshadow the characters themselves. The pool scene where Benjamin Braddock is in the SCUBA suit demonstrates another film technique. The director uses a shot from inside the suit looking out towards the family. You cant hear anything. It lets you know how Benjamin feels about his current life.
He is just going through the motions of life. Then, when Benjamin is under water sitting perfectly still, the director goes from a close-up and fades out until you cant see him anymore. This makes you think that the character is sick of it all and that he is about to change. Over-the-shoulder shots, odd angles, and shadows are all used in the hotel scenes. Benjamin doesnt want anyone to see him there. The director conveys this message with a shot that puts the large podium between the clerk and Benjamin; an over-the-podium shot.
After the first affair with Mrs. Robinson. Nichols uses bright light on Benjamin and puts him in a bright white shirt to symbolize a new man that now has something to look forward to. The affair seems to consume his thoughts, as seen in the shot where he flings himself onto the raft and the shot switches to a shot of him on top of Mrs. Robinson.
Then you see the father in front of the sun making him look dark while talking to Ben in the pool. This shows how Benjamin is just looking up at him and not registering what he is saying. He is only thinking of Mrs. Robinson. All of these different shots, angles, and lighting techniques make it easier for the audience to get the message that the director is trying to send, the feeling of each scene, the tone of the movie as a whole, and the personalities of the characters.