American Beauty (1999) – Sam Mendes
American Beauty is a movie that shows the journey of Lester Burnham, a middle aged man living in what seems to be the perfect life, but on the inside Lester is truly unhappy and what he describes as “already dead” in the opening voice-over scene.
One truly influential scene is the scene in Lester’s office. The director used a few color techniques and angle of framing techniques to demonstrate Lester’s distaste for his job, and his life in general.
The first shot we see in this scene is Lester’s reflection in his computer screen which contains text in vertical lines, resembling jail bars. The director intentionally shot it this way to demonstrate Lester’s feeling of imprisonment in his life, which is a common theme throughout the movie. Lester even directly mentions being a prisoner after he quits his job, while at the dinner table he says “Your mother seems to prefer that I go through life like a fucking prisoner”. In the very beginning of the film the voice over of Lester says that in a way he is already dead, and we can see this demonstrated with the color of wardrobe up until he quits his job. In Lester’s already grey and depressing office, we see him wearing grey slacks and a boring white shirt, grey tie combo. The choice of wardrobe is an obvious intention in this first scene to help demonstrate Lester’s feeling of lifelessness and lack of passion for his job and his life.
When the camera zooms out to show the entire office it shows a lot of people all wearing the same color pallet; greys, blacks and browns, there’s not one person wearing a more vibrant color in the office. Not only is the color important, but also the fact that the director made it so Lester does not stand out in the office, in fact the first time I watched it I couldn’t even find him in the massive group of people. The director intended the viewer to not easily see Lester to demonstrate how he is just one in many people at his work. Even...
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