The matriculation examination

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German title The matriculation examination
Original title The Graduate
The maturity test.png
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1967
length 102 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Mike Nichols
script Calder Willingham ,
Buck Henry
production Lawrence Turman
music Dave Grusin ,
Paul Simon
camera Robert Surtees
cut Sam O'Steen

The Graduate (AKA The Graduate ) is an American film directed by Mike Nichols from the year 1967 , which on the novel by Charles Webb based. He tells how college graduate Benjamin Braddock ( Dustin Hoffman ) enters into two “forbidden” relationships one after the other: first with a married woman, then with her daughter.

The film grossed over $ 100 million worldwide and earned Mike Nichols the 1968 Academy Award for Best Director . He has also been awarded numerous other prizes. The high school diploma was accepted into the National Film Registry in 1996 and came 7th in the American Film Institute's 1998 election for Best American Films .

The score by Simon & Garfunkel was released as the soundtrack album The Graduate and reached number one on the US album charts in April 1968 . The piece contained on it Mrs. Robinson became a world hit and is one of the most popular pieces by Simon & Garfunkel.


Shortly before the age of 21 and with a brilliant college degree in his luggage, Benjamin Braddock returns to his parents' home in Southern California . He does not yet know what he intends to do in the future. Not least because of this, he would prefer to be left alone instead of being shown to his parents' friends at “his” party. Mrs. Robinson, who is present without her husband, a business associate of Mr. Braddock, asks Benjamin to drive her home. There she tries to seduce him, against which he is reluctant and which is ultimately thwarted by the premature return of Mr. Robinson. Ironically, it is he of all people who advises Benjamin to enjoy his youth and use his attraction to women. A few days later, Benjamin struggles to accept Mrs. Robinson's offer. However, he only overcomes his insecurity at the moment when she asks him whether it is his "first time" and he is afraid of "failing". The subsequent several weeks of affair between the two, however, remains a purely sexual one. Benjamin's first attempt to create more closeness through a conversation ends in an argument and almost a falling out, triggered by Mrs. Robinson insisting that he promise never to go out with her daughter Elaine.

Worried about his inactivity and his nightly excursions, however, it is exactly what Benjamin's parents repeatedly ask him for - until he gives in. In an effort to put Elaine off being with him once and for all, he pretends to be aloof and drags her to a strip club. However, he goes too far: she is humiliated and bursts into tears. He justifies himself, comforts her, kisses her and falls in love. On the same evening he confesses to her that he had a relationship with a married woman. Your meeting, scheduled for the following day, thwarts Mrs. Robinson; she threatens Benjamin, if necessary to confront Elaine with the full truth. On the spur of the moment he anticipates her; at the price that Elaine breaks with him. When she soon returns to Berkeley to continue her studies, he decides to follow her. Elaine first fends off him and takes refuge in the arms of another suitor - the medical student Carl Smith - but then goes to Benjamin and learns that her mother lied to her when she claimed to have been raped by Benjamin. They both quickly approach each other again, Benjamin even pushes for an early wedding. But now the Robinsons intervene with united forces by wanting to marry off their daughter to Carl Smith. Elaine resigns and leaves Benjamin a farewell letter. The dramatic finale for him is about finding out where this wedding is taking place and getting there in time to prevent it. When he arrives after a more than 12-hour odyssey, the marriage has just been concluded, the couple kiss. His desperate appearance on the glazed church gallery changes everything: It's too late for him! her mother's Elaine sets her Not for me! and runs over to Benjamin's side. A wooden cross serves both as a weapon and as a bolt for the church door. You escape in a bus; while the bus drives off, the euphoria about the successful escape slowly disappears from both faces.


  • The film was revolutionary for the time. For the first time, the relationship between a married woman and a younger lover was described in an audience-effective and unbiased manner.
  • The film focused on the rigid morals of American society and the unfamiliarity of the then young generation. At the time of production, the film industry's ethical self-censorship under the Hays Code had been discontinued.
  • The final sequence - the rushed drive to church and the kidnapping of the bride from the wedding ceremony - goes back to the finale of the Harold-Lloyd silent film Girl Shy (1924). Lloyd acted as a consultant during the shooting.
  • The German film title Die Reifeprüfung is not the correct translation of the original title The Graduate in the context of the film . In German, the term “maturity examination” means the Abitur or Matura . In American English , both high school graduation and college graduation are called graduation; Benjamin didn't graduate from school, he graduated from college. Although the translation is not correct, it is still conclusive as an interpretation, as the film is about a classic initiation theme and the male protagonist is seduced by an older woman and introduced to sexuality. So he has to pass a "maturity test" which is expressed not only in the introduction to sexuality, but also in an emotional maturation, as he decides to love his love despite all social resistance and conventions.
  • The hotel scenes were in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles ( California rotated), less than six months after the premiere of the film in which in 1968 Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. The hotel served as a backdrop for other films such as B. for The Fabulous Baker Boys and Catch Me If You Can .
  • The film saw its first professional product placement in the form of an Alfa Romeo 1600 Duetto Spider , breaking new ground in the financing strategy for this film. The series in question is still called Graduate Spider in many places in the USA . In this respect, the film was a reaction to the social and moral upheavals that were on the horizon and thus the harbinger of New Hollywood .
  • The role of Ben was the first major role of Dustin Hoffman , who after a Hollywood - Star rising. He got the role despite being too old at the time of 30 years, because he seemed very insecure and nervous during the audition. The age difference between him, who was a college graduate in his early twenties, and 36-year-old Anne Bancroft, who acted as the 42-year-old mother to a nineteen-year-old daughter, was not more than 20, as shown in the film, but just under six Years. The real age difference between film mother and film daughter was not much greater at 9 years.
  • Anne Bancroft's role as Mrs. Robinson had initially been offered to Doris Day , but she canceled.
  • In the famous scene, which was also used for the original movie poster, is in which Dustin Hoffman in the doorway, staring at the legs of Mrs. Robinson, not the legs of Anne Bancroft, but the then 26-year-old is Linda Gray to see which later became famous in the television series Dallas .
  • In recent years the film has made a comeback through successful theater performances , for example in London, where Mrs. Robinson was played with great success by Jerry Hall .


Quite unusual for the time it was made, pop music was used specifically to convey the mood of a scene. The soundtrack recorded by Simon & Garfunkel (with The Sound of Silence , Mrs. Robinson and Scarborough Fair / Canticle ; see also Sounds of Silence ) became one of the duo's greatest successes. 2004 chose American Film Institute the song Mrs. Robinson at No. 6 in their list AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Songs of the 100 best American film songs.


  • The opening sequence inspired Quentin Tarantino for the opening credits in his film Jackie Brown . The ending has been parodied several times on television and in the cinema. B. in King of Queens , The Simpsons , Wayne's World 2 and Shrek 2 . There is also an allusion to the church scene in the film A best man to fall in love with and the computer game The Secret of Monkey Island .
  • In the film American Pie - Like a Hot Apple Pie there are also allusions to the love story. The song Mrs. Robinson was also used during Paul Finch's encounter with the more mature Janine Stifler .
  • The scene in which Dustin Hoffman dives in his parents' swimming pool was also adapted from the film Old School .
  • Dustin Hoffman returned to his role in 2004 for a commercial for the then new Audi A6 : Hoffman drives to church in the Audi, knocks on the outside of the window, the young bride escapes with him in the Audi. Then he says: “You are like your mother” and she: “Thank you Dad!”.
  • In the film Where Love Falls from 2005, the film story is spun on in a certain way: shortly before her sister's wedding, a young woman learns that her family is the role model for the film. Shirley MacLaine played Mrs. Robinson, Kevin Costner played Benjamin Braddock.



“Blurry Hollywood film in which it is not even clear whether the comedy that sometimes appears is intentional or unintentional. Unnecessary."

“Fast-paced social satire that targets both the calcified morality of the American establishment and the unworldliness of the young generation, but which clearly takes the side of the maladjusted sons and daughters. Staged with musical verve, chic pop elements and sharp humor. "


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Program for the International Silent Film Festival 14. – 24. August 2008, Bonn.
  2. Derald Hendry: The Films That Never Were ( Memento from January 4, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  3. AFI's 100 Years… 100 songs. (PDF; 134 kB) In: American Film Institute (AFI), June 22, 2005, accessed August 28, 2015 .
  4. Evangelischer Presseverband München, Review No. 419/1968
  5. The matriculation examination. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used