american beauty belonging concepts ideas and themes
*diagetic sound of video camera turning on.* - signifies start film is grainy and 'amateur', giving the setting of an interview, which shows us her true thoughts. Close up shot shows her "sad" facial emotions, futhering our perception that this girl does not belong without a role model. scene forshadows this struggle of belonging
"i need a father for a role model" - shows innocence and want to belong, need of connection to father and role model in order to find herself. "not some horny geek boy who's going to spray his shorts whenever i bring a girl home from school" - humorous 'smirk' type joke, lightens mood by suprising audience "what a 'lameo'" - this quote conveys her innocence
"someone really should just put him out of his misery" - forshadows her fathers unhappiness, gives the impression he doesnt belong. "want me to kill him for you?" - random voice, the sudden violence and change of tone shocks audience and foreshadows a murder. "yea.. would you?"
*sudden cut to black*
*diagetic sound of camera turning off and tape being removed* - signifies 'the end'.
Light heated non diagetic sound, wide areal shot of American suburbia provides a setting and context for the film narrative first person voice tells us “my name is lester burnam, this is my neighbourhood, this is my street, this is my life.” As the shot zooms in on a street so to does the narration, ending in “this is my life”, gives us a feeling of how small and insignificant his life is, his entire life belongs inside this street the camera tells us. “in less than a year.. I will be dead” – forshadows his murder and supports the first scene. Next scene:
“of coarse I don’t know that yet” conveys that the film has just flashed back from the forshadowment and into the present. The areal shot shows a boring, all the same colour room, with everything clean except the central focus. The bed with lester ALONE in it, the empty medium shot shows his LACK of relationship. He doesn’t seem to belong in his own bed.
The next shot is a close up of Lester: he is exhausted and sad “... And in a way, I’m dead already.” This quote confirms the audience’s feelings of alienation; Lester does not belong. Next we are introduced by the narrative, to his wife Carolyn, who immediately seems like the perfect wife. “See the way the handle on those pruning shears matches her gardening clogs? … That’s not an accident.” – confirms our first impressions that she clearly feels a sense of belonging in her garden. She appears happy. “she used to be happy… we used to be happy” the narration tells the audience she doesn’t belong however. And then we are re-introduced to jane, “a pretty typical teenager; angry, insecure, confused…” – this isn’t a typical teenager though, this is again telling us that jane doesn’t belong either. Finally lester sums it up by admitting that he feels the same way as his daughter, he knows he doesn’t belong.
Lester works a boring job, and even this is put on the rocks in front of us as we hear about his imminent ‘letting go’. He seems to cope with this job by using sarcasm and fake smiles, which represent again how he doesn’t belong at work, as well as at home. The perfect suburgatory house with the perfect family photos, the perfect dinner and the perfect setting is starkly contrasted to the family who lives inside it. Through this narration and dialogue the audience are able to see past this shell to the group of people who clearly don’t belong in any setting we’ve seen so far. The camera then shows a close up of a picture with a different tone, it is evident that this family was once happy, and belonged together at one point in the past. What changed? ; Is the rhetorical question that is asked. Is there hope? We see caryline at work, she works hard, and is determined. But after a hopeless day of trying to sell a house she is evidently desperate before breaking down...
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