martes, 23 de agosto de 2016

AMERICAN BEAUTY...Directed by Sam Mendes

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Happiness exists in American Beauty as a myth, as a goal, and as a disguise. All of the characters are engaged in the pursuit of happiness, although they have very different ideas about what happiness is and how to find it. This is one of the qualities that truly make American Beauty a film about the modern American experience: if being American means having the intrinsic right to the pursuit of happiness, why is the "typical" American so deeply unhappy? At the beginning of the film, Lester Burnham realizes that despite the dire nature of his current state, it is still possible for him to become happy once again. Slowly - and then with growing intensity - he begins to pursue happiness by paying close attention to his true desires, and ignoring the screeching dictates of society (as embodied by his wife, Carolyn). At the close of the film, Lester finally realizes that he has found true happiness...and in the most unlikely way. What makes this film so unique is that Lester pursues happiness in a manner that runs directly counter to the ideals of "respectable" society: he does drugs, takes a meaningless job, and pursues a sexual affair with a fifteen-year-old girl. Lester has become so blinded by his willingness to walk the straight and narrow that he must return to a fundamental - and arguably juvenile - state in order to recapture the happiness that he once enjoyed. Meanwhile, Carolyn Burnham represents the commonly-held belief that happiness is about perception: she is happy if she seems pulled together, confident, and successful - in other words, she is happy if others think that she is happy. She believes that by pursuing success she is pursuing happiness, but in reality she is merely attempting to dampen her own misery over the wreckage of her marriage and the narrowness of her life. Her daughter Jane, in contrast, is completely immersed in her misery. She displays it for all to see, from the clothes she wears to the company she keeps. Jane is so used to living in a state of perpetual unhappiness that when she meets Ricky she continues to obsess about her terrible home life despite the fact that Ricky's situation is clearly far worse.Ultimately, American Beauty endorses the pursuit of happiness as the only thing worth living for. At the end of the film, Lester's murder seems almost inconsequential; how can Lester's end be viewed as a tragedy when he was lucky enough to know true happiness in the months before he died, and when so many others never know it at all?
Many of the characters' problems stem from their failure to develop or maintain a coherent identity. Lester finds happiness by separating his sense of self-worth from his job and his home life. He learns that even though his boss and wife treat him as though he's worthless, that doesn't mean that he is. Angela believes that her identity is founded entirely on her sexuality. She fears being "ordinary" because she has confused ordinariness with physical plainness, and has confused physical plainness with having no identity. Carolyn Burnham is one of the film's most tragic characters because she has literally replaced her identity as a person with a collection of material things. Carolyn Burnham has a perfect suit, an expensive couch, and a new car, but she has lost the vivacious personality that Lester Burnham fell in love with. When he attempts to remind her of how she once was, she viciously defends her current state, thus protecting her belief that her priorities are in order and that she is successful because she possesses the "important" things in life. Ricky is the one character who does not fall victim to this problem of identity: his awe-inspiring strength comes from his ability to retain a clear sense of self despite constant abuse from his father. Even when he discovers that his father's love is truly conditional, Ricky is able to fearlessly pursue Jane's love and acceptance.The power of identity is underscored by Lester Burnham's death. Colonel Fitts kills Lester because he has revealed his true self to him, and cannot bear the idea that some part of himself - a part that he has always tried to keep hidden - has been exposed. In killing Lester, the Colonel preserves an identity that he can live with, albeit a false one.
American Culture

From its title to its allusions to several iconic American texts, American Beauty explores different aspects of American culture and American identity. The title refers to three different symbols of American culture: American Beauty roses (a popular variety), Angela as a representative of youthful, innocent, "American" loveliness, and the American aesthetic of beauty, as represented by Ricky's films. Lester Burnham has distinct similarities to Willy Loman, the everyman protagonist of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. Lester, cognizant of his situation, reinvents his life in order to save himself from a similar end. Carolyn Burnham represents American consumerism and the unfortunate belief that things can replace relationships. Lester's job at a fast-food restaurant and Jane's participation on the cheerleading team (both "typical" American roles) inject a humorous note into Mendes' discussion of American culture. All the same, American Beauty forces the viewer to consider whether there is anything worth saving at the root of this culture. When American Beauty was released abroad, many critics were surprised that Americans responded so positively to a film that seemed so critical of traditional American values. Americans, it seems, were ready to question these values much as Lester does in the film, and move towards a more satisfying, emotionally fulfilling existence.

11 comentarios:

  1. The first time I saw this movie I was totally able to follow its storyline and understand how the protagonist, Lester, behaved. But now, I can see the importance of characters such as Ricky Fitts. Everytime he made an appearence on the film, his comments and his way of thinking left you with some food for thought.
    Happiness seems like a far-off utopia to Lester. He feels his life has become completely pointless and to be honest, he is just too tired and bored to keep on living. The fact that he died with a smile on his face happens to be a great ending for the film.
    Lester realized he had achieved happiness when Angela asks him a quite simple question: "How've you been?".
    I believe we all can relate to a certain point with Lester. I mean, he is the stereotypical American dad with an unhealthy relationship with his wife (marriage) and little or no relation with his confused and sometimes stubborn daughter. He hates his work and his boss and basically, his life is a dead end. However, he turns out to be our role model when his miserable life suddenly takes an unexpected twist with him taking control of it.
    I can't find the words to describe how much I cherish this film, it's a sort of an inspiration to me although my words may not show that at.

  2. At the beginning the movie did not call much my attention, but as bizarre things starts to happen, it automatically attracted me. What I basically understood about it is that the movie tries to crash with the basic American stereotype as it questions the happiness of the common American family.
    All in all, I reckon that the script of the story is vastly exaggerated with bizarre scenes such as the kiss between Lester and Frank.
    To conclude, I really liked the movie and I totally recommend it as its worth watching. It will make you think about stereotypes and the American culture.

  3. I certainly believe it's an amazing film because you don't have to deeply analyze it to understand all the numerous topics it tackles, apart from the symbolism of the roses and their meaning. Unfortunately, my expectations were too high due to many friends that had recommended it whole-heartedly, but I do understand why they were so hyped when we watched it in class last Tuesday. Nonetheless, as mentioned before, I acknowledge that it's a worth watching movie because it's very complete and the plot goes fast. I reckon I am going to watch it for a second time though, in order to understand it better.

  4. From every aspects of this film, this motion picture is a masterpiece. Directed by Sam Mendes, American Beauty has the best portray of the frustration on life and how people prentend to cover it with a fictional presentation of themselves. The clearest example of what I am saying is Mena Suvari´s Angela. Not only is she lying about her sexual experiences, but also she was boasting about it. Contrary to Angela, Lester is the purest representation of freedom and personal liberation. A good example of this is the iconic scene of the rose petals coming from Angela, where Kevin Spacey´s character is smiling withing caring about anything else.

    During this re-watch, I found one element I have never seen before: during the event of the wife, the camara angle film the couple in a way that Carolyn is taller than Lester. This details show us how impressive is this film.

    As a conclusion to this tremendously touching film, this is, without any doubt, one of my favourite films I have watched. I still remember the impact I got when I see that ending for the first time.

  5. I certainly believe it´s a worth watching movie as it tackle many topics in a perfect way. The main one for sure is happiness as Lester, the main character, at the beginning of the film felt useless and depressed and throughout the story he starts to look for contentment. Even though I found some parts of the plot quite bizarre or weird I really enjoyed it. The part which I liked the most was the ending, where he is killed but there was a smile in his head which means he had finally found happiness.
    To conclude, I believe that Kevin Spacey´s performance was simply amazing and made the movie much more enjoyable.

  6. I saw this movie for the first time a year and a half ago, and I must admit, it changed my life. That's what I'll preface my argument with, the influence a simple 2-hour-long movie can have on someone. Because not until I saw American Beauty did I realise how beautiful the cinema could be. Not only does it have a thought-provoking plot, but also a beautiful cinematography, an amazing soundtrack, hidden messages in every single prop, beautiful quotes, a very talented cast and the wide variety of themes it tackles are relatable to every single person no matter who they are. Absolutely everything in this movie was well-planned, and I'd seriously like to congratulate Sam Mendes for such a piece of art. Him and the whole team behind this movie, actually, for it really is a masterpiece. I remember my reaction to the ending of the movie: I stood there, motionless, contemplating for minutes what had happened before my eyes. And then for weeks - and I'm not exaggerating- I pondered over every single topic this movie introduced to my life. It has made me hate all sorts of films which are just there for mere entertainment and do not even attempt to deliver a message to the viewer. What's more, after seeing it again in class, I realised there were more things there for me to see and I'm pretty sure if I see it again I will still be surprised by many others. I could drone on and on about them but there are lots of analysis in the internet for that matter, all of which I've read, by the way. Needless to say, this is my all-time favorite movie and I really hope my life does not become as unhappy and monotonous as Lester’s. And if it does, then I’d like it to change up-side down just like his did.

  7. Depending on your view, you might think that American Beauty is kind of a downer. After all, Lester never really reconciles with his wife, and right as he seems to achieve some happiness, he gets shot in the head, not exactly the typical happy ending. Still, though, it's not exactly a sad ending. The fact is, Lester does get a chance to feel some happiness and see some meaning in his life, clearly noticed in his smile at the final shot of the film. Overall, I'd say the movie ends on an oddly optimistic way, with Lester reminding us of all the beauty he sees in the world. How can Lester's end be viewed as a tragedy when he was lucky enough to know true happiness in the months before he died, and when so many others never know it at all?

    1. Still dont know why my name doesnt appear :( renu over here

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  10. What does a man need to be truly happy? A decent house, a wife, children, a car or two? This is what American Beauty poses throughout the successful film.

    The movie features Lester as the main character, a man who in the eyes of anyone seems to have it all, however, the film starts confronting the stereotype of the American “perfect life” when our protagonist falls into a deep depression generated by his downcast life. It is not until he meets Angela, a friend of his 15 years old daughter that he finally decides to take control of his life instead of letting the society’s statutes mark his path, an action that will gradually guide him in the right direction in his pursuit to find happiness.

    American Beauty is from my point of view an amazing film, being able not just to entertain the viewer but to leave a much deeper message, I love the fact that even though Lester dies during the last shot, he dies as a happy man, having been able to separate his self-worth from his job and home life and discovering how beautiful and meaningful life can really be.