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American Beauty Film Essay Ideas


2American Beauty: Lester Burnham and Colonel Frank Fitts“American Beauty,” the 1999 film directed by Sam Mendes, is a motion picture inwhich its characters struggle to control their destiny and find freedom, in different forms,within their own constructed world of dysfunctional perfection. The tag line “look closer”is an indication of the abnormalities to be found within the two American middle-classsuburban families depicted in the film, the Burnhams and Fitts’. The fathers of thesefamilies, Lester Burnham and Colonel Frank Fitts, appear to be polar opposites – theformer suffering from an adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct, the latter fromsevere internalized homophobia and anger management issues. One man is attempting toescape his stressful life events through reckless behavior, while the other tries tosafeguard himself through military control and a deep-seeded, personal fear. However,when we do look closer, the viewer realizes the significance and parallel in one of Lester’s statements: “[We are] a commercial for normal when we are anything but.”The first character introduced to viewers is Lester Burnham, a 42 year old malewho is generally depressed about every aspect of his life. He is married to a career-obsessed Carolyn Burnham who is the major breadwinner as a real estate agent, has spentfourteen years as a “whore for the advertising industry,” and has a teenage daughter whom he believes hates him. In one symbolic car scene we recognize his situation:Carolyn is driving (just like she “drives” the family), his daughter Jane is next to her, andLester sits slouched in the backseat, avoiding further argument with his wife, visually becoming

Film Analysis of American Beauty and the Graduate Essay

1320 WordsFeb 10th, 20136 Pages

Jessica Burns
Film Studies 1800

Sequence Analysis/ Assignment No. 2

American Beauty

-From when Carolyn arrives home until the end of the scene with Lester in their living room (Chapter 19: 1:14:35–1:17:40)

The movie “American Beauty” literally is trying to express how much beauty there is in America but it is not always so easy to see. Often in the film objects normally thought of as ordinary are magnified to express deeper meaning and show what beauty really exists in the world. The color red, for instance, is an ordinary color but it shows its face numerous times throughout the movie. The color is not just ordinary it is significant, as it represents love, passion, and…show more content…

In an instant the moment ends when Lester almost ruins her precious couch. Carolyn returns to being uptight and materialistic and Lester to being angry. He becomes so angry with her because she has let material things be her life. This shows how important love, passion, and happiness in life is, what it is really about, and how hard it is to maintain all in only a few short minutes. The cinematography in the film does a wonderful job conveying the genuine meaning behind the sequence as well. The camera is placed far from the actors at the beginning of the scene and becomes closer and closer as the desire between Lester and Carolyn grows. When Carolyn relapses and becomes upset about the couch almost getting ruined the camera goes out again and the actors are surrounded by all of the material items in the room. In that frame it is clear that the more intimate, close up scene was more tasteful to see than the angry room full of expensive furniture. Through this sequence the viewer should be able to understand the social issue addressed; that today Americans ignore the raw, pure beauty in the world and instead are obsessed with the amount of objects that they can own. Natural beauty is disappearing, while store bought beauty is growing. In time this will destroy true happiness. The film is touching the viewer’s heart and mise-en-scene and cinematography do a wonderful job at exposing the actuality

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