Sunday, 14 September 2014

Representation in American Beauty

Lester Burnham's Representation

  • He says he used to be happy- suggests that he's not content now
  • Dislikes his wife- he talks about her in a negative way
  • He has a poor posture and slouches- suggests that he's lazy and lacks confidence
  • He is unhappy- we learn this from his VO and the way he acts
  • He is not well respected by the people around him, for example he sits in the back-seat of the car like a child
  • Stereotypical female and male roles are reversed with Lester and his wife
  • He jerks off in the shower and calls it the highlight of his day- which suggests that the rest of his day must be awful and that he's sad, and perhaps that him and his wife aren't having sex
The non-diegetic sound is upbeat music, that contrasts with Burnham's life as he comes across in the beginning of the film as being quite miserable. Maybe this music was chosen to keep the beginning of the film somewhat light-hearted and perhaps so the audience don't take Burnham's situation too seriously initially. The music is also repetitive, reflecting his repetitive everyday life and routine. The other non-diegetic sound is Burnham's voice over in which he affectively expresses that he is miserable with his life, this sets the scene for the audience and makes them feel like they already know a bit about his character. Also, the monotonous tone of his voice in this VO reflects his discontent with his life. Any diegetic sound at the beginning of this film sets the scene for the audience of what Lester Burnham's home life is like.

Burnham is shown many a time trapped behind things and being distant from any action taking place. For example the camera men chose to film from the outside of Burnham's shower so it looks as if he is trapped in there behind the door, representing how he is trapped in his miserable everyday routine and home life. He is also shown stood inside the house looking out the window from a distance at his wife talking to someone in the garden, once again representing how he is trapped and that perhaps he's not close to his family any more. Furthermore, in Lester's computer screen in his office they have cleverly used bars on the screen with Lester's reflection in it to look like he's trapped and affectively imprisoned in his miserable life.

Mise En Scene-
There are dull colours, for example Lester's bedroom is beige and he wears a brown suit, this reflects the dullness of his life. Lester's room is also very sparse and this could represent how he doesn't have much going on in his life. Burnham's office is also very plain, to have the same effect as his plain room does. There is a red, white and blue colour scheme. Their are roses in the garden and also roses on the daughter's top- this suggests that the roses are significant in the film.

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