"American Beauty" and Its Music

Topics: Film score, Film, Thomas Newman Pages: 3 (1376 words) Published: October 25, 2005
While it has been some time since I have seen the movie "American Beauty", as I remember it, Kevin Spacey portrays Lester as the films main character, a middle aged man experiencing a mid-life crisis. After being fired from his job, Lester decides to return to his high school career as a burger flipper, smoke marijuana, lift weights in the garage, and try to impress his daughter's high school friend. During this series of events, the other characters in the film go through crises of their own, until the film comes to a close and Lester is killed. Upon listening to the music that accompanied the movie, it became quiet clear to me the significance it held to the film. It served not only to set the various moods in the story, but also to evoke a wide gamut of feelings in the films audience. It portrayed the emotions of the characters in the film with musical harmony and dissonance, and further acted as a unifying element between events and lives in the film. The movie had a score written for it by Thomas Newman, as well as a sound track composed of various artists. The combination of these two varying music styles diversified the films ability to impact its audience, and project a message. The film begins in the same manner that it ends, with a monologue by Lester. In this initial speech by Lester we are informed of the normality and comical misery of his current existence. Lester's sarcastic and indifferent tone is complimented by the beginning of the movie's score composed by Thomas Newman. This jovial and almost tribal sounding portion of the score echoes Lester's tone with a sort of irony that seems to enhance the sadly humorous nature of his life. At the close of this monologue Lester describes himself as feeling "sedated", and again the deeply resonating sounds of this initial piece in the score complimented by a synthesized piano, drums, and various strings, confirms the oddity and numbness of his sensation. The next time we are confronted with a...
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