HD DVD: For Fans Only
2.5 Stars out of 5
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Release Date: May 21st, 2007
Movie Release Year: 1967
Release Country: France
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The Graduate (French Import)

Review Date December 6th, 2007 by
  • Editors Note

    This is a review of the French HD DVD release of 'The Graduate.' This movie has not been announced for release on either high-def disc format in the United States, although domestic home entertainment rights are owned by MGM, which is currently releasing titles on Blu-ray only. (For more information about importing HD DVD discs, visit the HD DVD imports thread in our forums area.)

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For Fans Only
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  • Editors Note

    This is a review of the French HD DVD release of 'The Graduate.' This movie has not been announced for release on either high-def disc format in the United States, although domestic home entertainment rights are owned by MGM, which is currently releasing titles on Blu-ray only. (For more information about importing HD DVD discs, visit the HD DVD imports thread in our forums area.)

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs: HD DVD,HD-30 Dual-Layer Disc
    Video Resolution/Codec: 1080p/VC-1
    Length:105
    Release Country:France
    Aspect Ratio(s):2.20:1
    English Descriptive Audio: English DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 2.0 Stereo,French DTS-HD High-Resolution 1.0 Mono
    Subtitles/Captions: English Subtitles,French Subtitles,Dutch Subtitles,Swedish Subtitles,Norwegian Subtitles,Finnish Subtitles
    Special Features: None
    Movie Studio: Studio Canal
    Release Date: May 21st, 2007

Story Review Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

5 Stars out of 5

Is there anything left to say about 'The Graduate' that hasn't been said before? In the thirty years since its original release, the film has been discussed, analyzed, referenced and regurgitated to death. From classic lines like "Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs. Robinson" and "plastics" to the iconic image of Benjamin Braddock framed through the leg of his seducer, the film is a true pop culture touchstone. In fact, 'The Graduate' may be so famous and so oft-quoted that you may think you've already seen the movie even if you haven't.

I won't try to deny the film its hallowed place in cinema history, because it really is that good. Like all true classics, it doesn't matter if its clothes are out of style or if its dialogue is dated. 'The Graduate' is a true zeitgeist film -- as 'Rebel Without a Cause' was to the '50s, 'American Graffiti' to the '70s and the John Hughes movies to the '80s, 'The Graduate' doesn't just reflect its era -- it has virtually become it.

For those who haven't seen the film, here's the quick plot summary. Just out of college, young Benjamin Braddock(Dustin Hoffman) finds himself back home without a clue of what he wants to do with his life. Over the course of the film, he'll be seduced by an older housewife named Mrs Robinson (Anne Bancroft), only to fall in love her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross) and ultimately stage the most celebrated, bring-the-audience-to-its-feet acts of rebellion ever conceived.

It's important to note that at the time of its original release, 'The Graduate' was the rare film where the mere act of buying a ticket was in and of itself an act of protest for the young generation. A challenging of the status quo seethed through every pore of the film, with its style, humor, performances, direction and upending of traditional romantic comedy conventions being one big, defiant, glorious middle finger pointed directly at the bourgeois and the regressive.

Yet what elevates 'The Graduate' from simply being a quaint polemic of its era and turns it into grand entertainment is that it is not overtly didactic. Adapted for the screen by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham (from the novel by Charles Webb), the script is so sublimely clever because it couches its more subversive ambitions as a simple generational comedy. Even thirty years later, we all recognize our friends, our neighbors, our family and ourselves in the film's characters. Though some have opined that Ben is a bit of a sad sack in the film's first half, that's precisely what makes his triumph in the second half so exhilarating. Like a Caterpillar to a Butterfly, Ben's rite of passage is universal -- and that's what makes it so ultimately poignant, and such a truly landmark reading of the culture clash that continues to divide the generations.

'Of course, The Graduate' would not have worked without great performances, and they are indeed perfection. A then-unknown Dustin Hoffman because an instant star after his immensely likable, utterly inspired turn as Ben. Likewise, Anne Bancroft landed the role of her career as Mrs. Robinson -- her performance is a tour-de-force of nuance, humanity and barely-constained rage. And though Katherine Ross would suffer an erratic career following 'The Graduate,' she's ideally cast here as Elaine -- beautiful but not vapid, and so pure that we immediately understand Ben's willingness to risk everything just to be with her.

There's more. Mike Nichols direction is among the decade's finest, and he wastes not a single shot. The camerawork by the legendary Robert Surtees is impeccable, and the music by Simon & Garfunkel is timeless -- the song "Mrs. Robinson" remains a staple on just about ever classic rock station in the world, as are "The Sounds of Silence" and "Scarborough Fair." Simply put, there is not an aspect of this movie that steps wrong, or rings false.

If nothing else, you should see 'The Graduate' just to mark another flick off your film-buff syllabus. But unlike so many classics that often feel like obligations to watch, 'The Graduate' is an immensely entertaining, fantastically crafted piece of mainstream entertainment. The rare example of art and commerce not just co-existing but combining to create lightning in the pop culture bottle, 'The Graduate' is one for the time capsule.

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    HD DVD,HD-30 Dual-Layer Disc
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    1080p/VC-1
    Length:105
    Release Country:France
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    2.20:1
    Audio Formats:
    English DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 2.0 Stereo,French DTS-HD High-Resolution 1.0 Mono
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English Subtitles,French Subtitles,Dutch Subtitles,Swedish Subtitles,Norwegian Subtitles,Finnish Subtitles
    Special Features:
    None
    Movie Studio: Studio Canal
    Release Date: May 21st, 2007

Video Review

3 Stars out of 5

'The Graduate' has been released on video many times over the years, from several old VHS pan & scan disasters, to a Criterion laserdisc, to a couple of domestic DVD editions put out by MGM. Since 'The Graduate' has long been one of my favorite films, I'm intimately familiar with all of these versions, as I've owned each of them at one time or another. With that as background, I can confidently say that this Studio Canal HD DVD import is the best presentation I've seen, although it's important to remember that this will always be a film from 1967.

The source is in nice shape, so this 1080p/VC-1 encode (framed at about 2.20:1 widescreen) is generally clean. Seeing as director Mike Nichols and cinematographer Robert Surtees use white quite liberally over the course of the film, dust and dirt speckles are are more noticeable than average, although generally these blemishes are not severe. Likewise, as you would expect from a film of this vintage, there's a natural grain throughout the runtime, but it's largely consistent from scene to scene (only a few low light shots feel a bit overwhelmed).

I've found previous video releases of 'The Graduate' to suffer from a somewhat harsh appearance, with whites that bloom and overly dark blacks. This high-def version smoothes out the image commendably -- shadow delineation is the best I've seen, with fine details visible that I've never noticed before. Colors are also robust for film of this time period, with nice fleshtones and fairly strong primaries. Alas, the image is soft (at least by today's standards), robbing the film of the kind of depth typical of more modern transfers. There are also a few shots here or there that suffer from faded blacks.

Still, overall this transfer is as good as I've ever seen the film look, and seems likely to please other fans of the film as much as it pleased me.

Audio Review

2.5 Stars out of 5

'The Graduate' has always been a decidedly low-fi affair. Although the film recently received a 5.1 surround upgrade for its 40th Anniversary standard-def DVD release stateside, this French import gets only a DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 2.0 stereo track and the differences are relatively minor. Simply put, there's just so much you can do with material like this

To say the original source elements suffer from limited dynamics is probably an understatement. Highs are compressed and flat, and low bass is anemic. At least this is a clean mix, without any major dropouts or similar issues. Dialogue is also fair enough, although Katherine Ross' voice still sounds particularly screechy to me. All things considered, 'The Graduate' sounds fine for what it is -- just don't expect anything more.

Special Features

0 Stars out of 5

Although the 40th Anniversary standard-def DVD edition of 'The Graduate' (released this past September here in the US) includes all of the extras from earlier domestic home video editions, plus several new featurettes and a couple of acclaimed audio commentaries (boasting the likes of Hoffman and Nichols), I'm sorry to report that none of those features appear on this bare bones import HD DVD from Studio Canal.

Final Thoughts

'The Graduate' is an undisputed classic that's just as biting today as it was upon its original release in 1967. Boasting a star-making turn for Dustin Hoffman, masterful direction by Mike Nichols and a haunting soundtrack by Simon & Garfunkel, 'The Graduate' is one of the quintessential modern films that any serious student of cinema must see.

This Studio Canal French HD DVD release is serviceable. Although the transfer is nice enough, the soundtrack shows its age and there are zero extras. If you're hell-bent on owning this one on HD DVD, this may end up being your best bet, but if you're a dual-format supporter, rumor has it MGM is planning to bring their recently-released 40th Anniversary edition DVD to Blu-ray, and it seems likely that such a release would be superior to this one.

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  • Editors Note

    Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    HD DVD,HD-30 Dual-Layer Disc
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    1080p/VC-1
    Length:105
    Release Country:France
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    2.20:1
    Audio Formats:
    English DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 2.0 Stereo,French DTS-HD High-Resolution 1.0 Mono
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English Subtitles,French Subtitles,Dutch Subtitles,Swedish Subtitles,Norwegian Subtitles,Finnish Subtitles
    Special Features:
    None
    Movie Studio: Studio Canal
    Release Date: May 21st, 2007