Thursday, August 31, 2006

Subtext - The Graduate



Ahh, yes, many of you know from TriggerStreet the great David Muhlfelder who, from the age of 16 months to 5 years, “lived in a state mental hospital in Harrisburg, PA.” His father, a German-Jewish psychiatrist and refugee from Nazi Germany, was the hospital's clinical director. They got all their food for free from the hospital grocery store. They ate steak almost every night. “I was happy there,” he says. “One day I hope to return to a place just like it. I think I'm well on my way.”

I’ve admired David from afar, and I’ve been patiently looking forward to reviewing one of his stories. Or all of them. That day will come, I’m sure. As you know, I love to analyze. I love to dive right into a story, dig around its inner workings, and figure it all out - story, structure, format, characters - everything. My reviews average about 2000 words, and if I love your story, I might go up to 5000 words.

David Muhlfelder, on the other hand, will shoot you down with unbelievable accuracy in about 200 words or less. He always makes me think of David & Goliath. While I would choose to take down the giant with a submachine gun riddling holes into every crevice of his body, David will use a simple pebble and sling and never fail to hit his target right between the eyes.

Hehehe

He’s a prolific reviewer on
TriggerStreet. I believe he does at least one review a day, sometimes more. There are, at the time of this posting, 569 reviews under his belt. He’s received all the accolades the site can offer a member including Reviewer of the Month. Not only that, he has four wildly popular stories, all Top Ten Favorites: Pride of Lyons, Why We Fight, The Professor’s Widow, and The Butterfly Man, which was recently Screenplay of the Month.

David’s choice -
Buck Henry’s classic script, The Graduate.


“There's a scene in The Graduate when Ben tells his parents that he's going to marry Elaine Robinson. As his parents pump him for details, it becomes apparent that he hasn't told anybody of his plans including Elaine. This prompts his father to say “Ben, this whole thing sounds a little half-baked.” Ben responds “Oh no, it's completely baked. It's a decision I've made.” In that one moment, Ben's character arc takes a turn in a whole new direction. The frightened and confused young man who was so worried about his future that he allowed others to make his decisions for him suddenly seizes control of his life and takes the first bold step towards controlling his own destiny.”


Oh, come on, David. You of all people should know that the point of the movie was really about a future in plastics. Hehehe… I’m SO kidding.

Thanks so much.

Since we’re on the topic of The Graduate and subtext, I cannot resist including the famous, comical, (and my favorite) moment when Mrs. Robinson famously visits Ben in his room the night of the party. I love the cat-and-mouse game here - the seduction, the resistance, and the double meaning behind Ben’s “No, I’m just sort of disturbed about things.” Hehehe


INT. - EXT. BEN'S ROOM - NIGHT

Ben stands with his back against the door. The SOUNDS of the PARTY downstairs and, as Ben walks across the room to a window… The SOUND of the door OPENING. Ben turns. MRS. ROBINSON enters the room.

MRS. ROBINSON
Oh. I guess this isn't the
bathroom, is it?

BEN
It's down the hall.

They stand for a moment, looking at each other.

MRS. ROBINSON
How are you, Benjamin?

BEN
Fine, thank you. The bathroom is
down at the end of the hall.

Mrs. Robinson moves into the room and sits on the edge of the bed.

BEN
Look, Mrs. Robinson, I don't
mean to be rude but -

Mrs. Robinson takes a cigarette from her purse and lights it.

MRS. ROBINSON
Is there an ashtray in here?

BEN
No.

MRS. ROBINSON
Oh - I forgot. The track star
doesn't smoke.

She blows out the match and puts it down carefully on the bedspread. Ben picks up a wastebasket, walks over to the bed, picks up the match and puts it in the wastebasket.

MRS. ROBINSON
Is it a girl?

BEN
Is what a girl?

MRS. ROBINSON
Whatever it is you're upset
about.

BEN
Oh - no. I'm just sort of
disturbed about things.

MRS. ROBINSON
In general.

BEN
That's right.

There is a long pause.

MRS. ROBINSON
Benjamin, I want to ask you
something.

BEN
What?

MRS. ROBINSON
Will you take me home?

BEN
What?

MRS. ROBINSON
My husband took the car. Will
you drive me home?

Ben reaches into his pocket and hands Mrs. Robinson
a set of car keys.

BEN
Here - you take it.

Mrs. Robinson looks at him.

BEN
Do you know how to work a
foreign shift?

Mrs. Robinson shakes her head.

BEN
You don't?

MRS. ROBINSON
No.

BEN
Let's go.

She throws the keys to him. He catches them.

2 comments:

miriamp said...

Thank you, David, for choosing such a great movie for your example. It's so perfect for you, because you've become known as the guy with the sex script on TS.

I see you subtly included your own subtext in your choice of scene. You selected not the scene where Mrs. Robinson seduces Ben, but an entirely different scene: one that we don't normally think of when we think of The Graduate.

But subtextually, you reminded us of the unbridled lust with which we first saw this movie, and the outrageous flaunting of societal values. And you did it with the scene that's all about emotional love, not lust, and marriage. Very nicely done.

Mystery Man said...

I considered the other scene, but this one was similar but shorter.

I love it when you talk about lust. Hehehe...

-MM