AMERICAN BEAUTY (Modern Dysfunctional Culture)

Essay by gregariUniversity, Bachelor's June 2005

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Today's family structure bears little reflection upon its former counterparts of decades ago. No longer are family values placed before personal desires, inasmuch as contemporary families are often splintered due to each member's quest to achieve for him or herself. Striving for one's individual aspirations over and above the health of the family as a whole is what Sam Mendes' American Beauty clearly depicts, as it strives to portray man's unquenchable need to fulfill his own wants and needs, ultimately shaping modern dysfunctional culture.

The film that I chose for this particular topic was American Beauty. American Beauty is like mise-en-scene candy. Each theme from repression to denial and fantasy to reality is clearly portrayed through the art of mise-en-scene. We often say that a good performance is "realistic." To me a good performance by an actor is making it seem as if they are not really "acting" per se; making the viewer believe that they are the actual character in the film.

Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening play Lester Burnham and Carolyn Burnham, a seemingly happily married couple in Sam Mendes' "American Beauty" - by typical social standards, that is. What actually lurks beneath their otherwise normal relationship is the discontentment of one man's desire to live more of his life than merely being a cookie cutout of average people. Lester longs for excitement and intrigue to fill his lonely, boring life, and he has learned over the years that he cannot get these things from his own marriage. In essence, Lester and Carolyn have grown apart rather than together, no longer sharing the same elements that originally brought them together as a couple. What has come to pass that inevitably inspires Lester's mid-life crisis is a combination of lost youth, a life that...



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