Is The Graduate a black comedy???

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Van Patton, Mar 28, 2002.

  1. Van Patton

    Van Patton Second Unit

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    I say it is but my mom said it was a drama. I argued and told her that they had intended it as a black comedy?? Am I right??
     
  2. Ryan L B

    Ryan L B Supporting Actor

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    wasnt that movie listed as one of the funniest movies ever made. what is your defeniton of a black comedy.
     
  3. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    How about dry, irreverent comedy? Not sure about it being a black comedy.

    Is there dark and/or morbid humor there?

    All I know is that I love it.
     
  4. Ashley Seymour

    Ashley Seymour Supporting Actor

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    ADJECTIVE: 1a. Of, relating to, or caused by disease; pathological or diseased. b. Psychologically unhealthy or unwholesome: “He suffered much from a morbid acuteness of the senses” (Edgar Allan Poe). 2. Characterized by preoccupation with unwholesome thoughts or feelings: read the account of the murder with a morbid interest. 3. Gruesome; grisly.
    Benjamin gets seduced by a woman twice his age, the wife of his father's business partner and close family friend, and then he continues the affair until he meets his lover's daughter, whom he falls in love with, and spirits her away from the church as she is to be married.
    Morbid? Nah, Disney handles this plot device all the time.
    I saw The Graduate in college and it remains one of my favorite movies.
     
  5. Guy_K

    Guy_K Second Unit

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    I think it's a dry, somewhat black comedy. Definitely ahead of its time.
     
  6. Leila Dougan

    Leila Dougan Screenwriter

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    This is one of my favorite movies as well. I also agree that its a dry humor type movie. Black comedy I'm not so sure, but maybe. I think I need to think about it some more.
     
  7. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Yes, but affairs and romantic triangles are not inherently black comedy subjects.
    The types of humor used are far from black comedy to me in contrast to something like Dr. Strangelove or Fight Club.
    The comedy in Graduate is based on the awkwardness of a naive boy or a youngs man's confusion in dealing with his new future.
    If The Graduate is a dark comedy then that must make Rushmore pitch black, and I don't think Rushmore comes anywhere near "dark comedy" areas.
    If you are using Disney as the measuring stick for dark comedy, then does that make Something About Mary a dark comedy? Or American Pie or Porkies? Not Disney material either but also not dark comedies.
     
  8. Bob McLaughlin

    Bob McLaughlin Screenwriter

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    I think you guys are all missing the point.
    A boy should never argue with his mother, Van Patton. She brought you into this world, and she can take you out of it![​IMG]
     
  9. Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

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    I think it was a movie that wasn't made to be outright funny, but ends up funny because of how dramatic it is about strange circumstances. So I guess it could be called a dramedie.
     
  10. Ashley Seymour

    Ashley Seymour Supporting Actor

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    The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

    black humor

    in literature, drama, and film, grotesque or morbid humor used to express the absurdity, insensitivity, paradox, and cruelty of the modern world. Ordinary characters or situations are usually exaggerated far beyond the limits of normal satire or irony. Black humor uses devices often associated with tragedy and is sometimes equated with tragic farce. For example, Stanley Kubrick’s film Dr. Strangelove; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1963) is a terrifying comic treatment of the circumstances surrounding the dropping of an atom bomb, while Jules Feiffer’s comedy Little Murders (1965) is a delineation of the horrors of modern urban life, focusing particularly on random assassinations. The novels of such writers as Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Pynchon, John Barth, Joseph Heller, and Philip Roth contain elements of black humor.

    It may not be as hard edge as
     
  11. Brian W.

    Brian W. Screenwriter

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    I think The Graduate was absolutely written and intended as a comedy, though one with a little drama and depth to it. It's definitely not a Jim Carey movie, that's for sure.
     
  12. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    Where was Mrs. Robinson when I was growing up?
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Ashley, I'm not sure if the comedy part was to me, but if it was you are very confused with what I'm saying.

    There is lots of comedy in the film. Romantic comedy, dry comedy, irreverent comedy.

    There is no black comedy in it though. No humor is played off of a sickness or depicting a morbid insensitivity.

    Again, Graduate is a comedy, Rushmore is a comedy, Something About Mary is a comedy.

    Something About Mary is not a dark comedy, despite having sexual jokes, gross jokes and jokes regarding affairs and deviant behavior.

    The jokes in The Graduate are made in regards to Hoffman's awkwardness with the situations and people, but never laughing AT the suffering of people, nor does the film express an insensitivity to character's emotions.

    It's just funny that he is in awkward spots. And again, since Rushmore covers much of the exact same territory it would have to be called a black comedy also, and it simply isn't.

    Dark Comedies:

    Fargo

    Arsenic and Old Lace

    Dr Strangelove

    American Beauty (at times)

    Series 7

    Repo Man

    Gross Point Blank (at times thanks to his job)

    The King of Comedy

    Meet the Feebles

    Chopper

    American Pyscho

    The Graduate doesn't laugh at the fact that Hoffman falls in love with the daughter. Those aspects are all serious and sad. If the humor were in the fact that he was going for the daughter and mother, if THAT were the joke itself, then the film might be a black comedy.
     
  14. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    I think that we're all looking at this from our own perspectives, and that is going to mess this whole thing up.

    I have never considered The Graduate to be a black comedy before, but the more I think about it, I'd have to go with saying that IMHO, I think it is.

    The entire movie is played at Hoffman's expense. If anyone calls what happened to him funny, then you could be the one with the sick mind.

    I thought it was horrible, and my respect for anybody that played a part in it forced me to take them down a few notches, and seeing as how it was Hoffman's first film, I can't stand to see him in anything. Never have, never will.

    Van, I take my hat off to you! Thanks!

    Glenn
     
  15. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    But are you laughing at what happened to him in general or laughing at moments like "Plastics" or his funny behavior the first time he meets Mrs. Robinson at the hotel.

    That's my whole point.

    Like one "funny point" is the faces cursing him out at the end when he beats on the window, but the humor is in their defeat not his suffering. And it's only slightly funny, also touching and dramatic.

    I mean usually dark humor is like in Fight Club when the guys are commenting on the burned remains of that car while Norton listens in disgust.

    I guess I would really like to hear some scenes that a example of dark comedy in Graduate. Maybe I can be convinced but I need it pointed out to me.
     
  16. Ashley Seymour

    Ashley Seymour Supporting Actor

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    Seth,
     
  17. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    But you have just told us why Graduate is NOT black comedy...it does show the emotional impact. The joke with the audience is not to laugh AT her at that moment.

    In dark comedies we are laughing with/at characters joking about dying, for example.

    Dr. Stragelove is making jokes about people being selected to live or die based on a male porno fantasy basically, all off the cuff. And THAT is what we are laughing at. Dr. Strangelove does not turn to the audience and let us know that this is in actuality quite sad to him, nor do we stop to share in the real suffering that will be caused by this.

    Again, instead what we have is a dramedy, or a drama spiced with light, dry comedy, perhaps even slightly ironic and certainly poignent. That it has these moments is exactly why its not morbid.

    If the film was indifferent to such pain and hurt, then you would have dark comedy.

    Arsenic and Old Lace has us laughing at little old ladies KILLING people. The KILLING is what is funny, the whole process and how they lightly deal with it. Mrs. Robinson's hurt look IS NOT where the audience goes "HA HA look at her cry". That's where they realize IT'S NOT FUNNY ANYMORE. Dark comedy doesn't stop to say it's really not funny, that's why it's morbid. You are laughing at things that normally you shouldn't be laughing at.
     
  18. Ashley Seymour

    Ashley Seymour Supporting Actor

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    Seth,
    I think you may miss the point of the purpose of black humor. Again, look at the definition. Grotesque or morbid humor used to express the absurdity... paradox of the modern world.
    I think the point of the gag, the joke in Dr. Strangelove is missed. Man is so afraid of his destruction, that he unwittingly, and without due respect of the consequences of his actions, constructs the ultimate weapon to bring about his destruction. The same human nature that causes man to seek the destruction of other men, tribes, nations, etc. is supposed to somehow rise to a higher level of responsibility when the hand is placed on the ultimate weapon. The hand on the weapon should be cold, rational and efficient. Well the men who are in charge are petty, emotional, selfish, and capable of the ultimate rationalization. The joke is not that we are laughing at all the people that are going to be killed, but that we don't recognize the absurdity in most of our actions and we repeat our mistakes over and over. A bomber will get through, well hell, lets just make the best of the situation and "get up with their pants down". Then the doomesday machine is revealed and the leaders realize that they can ensure their survival by going to tunnels. But they have to move fast because the Russians man do the same so better to win "tunnel race and avoid the creation of a tunnel gap" so that when the Americans pop up out the ground in several generation, than can get the jump on the Soviets.
    Black humor is not the indifference to pain or the laughing at peoples suffering. That would make it not worth viewing. That indifference and laughing at the pain of their victims is the type of reaction that the Camerouge exhibited during their reign of terror.
    The lesson we have to learn from films like The Graduate and Dr. Strangelove is that humans are self centered and great at rationalization. If we can look at a character and see in him or her something of ourself, then can avoid the mistakes that character made and begin to gain a bit of humility.
     

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