Horse in a Landscape and The Graduate

7:00 AM

Franz Marc, Horse in a Landscape, 1910

The last time I saw The Graduate was about this time last year in a hotel room at West Lafayette, Indiana. After several failed attempt to sleep, I felt some TV might help. I turned on the TV and there it was, a young Dustin Hoffman driving around town in his fancy, red roadster, with the placid voices of Simon &Garfunkel playing in the background. The Graduate, one of my all-time favorite midnight classics. The movie was great as always. But the college visit at Purdue with Lexi the next morning was all too fuzzy for me to recall. It's funny when I think about it today. It all seems just like yesterday when I was watching someone going through the process and coming to a point where she had to choose her own path of life. Only then had I not realized that I would be soon going through the same process and facing the same decisions. Time flies. And with no surprise, here I am, finishing the last part of the marathon.

I probably can never say I completely understand Ben. But over the years, I grow to empathize with him. The frustration, temptation, and feeling of being all confused and at a loss. Neither good grades, healthy family, nor a promised future prevents Ben from making mistakes. In the end, only he knows what he truly wants and how he's going to get it.

Franz Marc painted the Horse in a Landscape in search of the "absolute essence of art." He hoped to discover the beauty and purity inherited in the natural world. He managed to break away from the domain of naturalistic colors and lines. And by doing so, he made the recognizable things more abstract and expressive. Marc believed that pure colors had just as much symbolic potentials and subtexts as the real world. He came up with theories about colors and attributed particular qualities to the three primary colors. For him, blue represents the masculine part of the world, associated with austerity and intelligence. Yellow arouses feminine characteristics and sensuality. And red stands for the material world, relentless, brutal, and belligerent. In the painting, we see a horse halt his steps and hesitate about where he is going. He is strong, but somehow there is no clear path for him to dash, only a field of gentle yellow. "Mrs. Robinson you are trying to seduce me, aren't you?" Powerless and puzzled, Ben walks right into that field and losses his way there for a long time. It's only when he darts to the church and runs away with Elaine has he finally found a way to what he truly wants. However, on the bus, as smiles gradually fade away from their faces, we start to wonder, perhaps the characters too, is it really a good decision? Or did they just screw up their lives again? As the yellow bus drives farther into the horizon, a new round of loss and find begins. If this is the start of a new education, the education of life, then, when is the graduation?

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