Scene Analysis Of America Beauty Film Studies Essay

“ American Beauty ” is a movie written by Alan Ball and directed by Sam Mendes in the twelvemonth 2000. The movie is about Lester Burnham, who is seeking for felicity. Lester Burnham is an ordinary-looking adult male in his mid-fortiess. Lester is in a loveless matrimony because his married woman, Carolyn Burnham, who thinks that success is the most of import thing in life, neglects him due to her compulsion to her existent estate calling. In the movie, Lester frequently mentions that Carolyn does n’t admit him. Lester ‘s girl, Jane Burnham, is emotionally distant from her male parent, and frequently claims how hapless she thinks Lester is. In the beginning of the movie, Lester was told that he was in danger of losing his occupation. All these factors dramatically culminate into feelings of despair and exposure for him. This begins to alter as Lester is introduced to his girl ‘s friend, Angela Hayes. Lester overhears a conversation between Jane and Angela, where Angela states that she would hold sex with him if he would get down working-out and edifice up his organic structure. The idea of holding a adolescent miss happening Lester “ hot ” , excites Lester therefore get downing Lester ‘s alteration throughout the film ( American Beauty, gesture image, 2000 ) .

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I will be analyzing two scenes of this movie which I found to be the most important in footings of how it helped me determine my reading of and emotional response to the movie. Both scenes involve major bend of events in the movie sing Lester Burnham and I found that the cinematographic qualities of the scenes played a major portion in lending to the film ‘s overall significance. Harmonizing to Richard Barsam, filming is the procedure of capturing traveling images on movie or some other medium ( Barsam 2007, p.140 ) . Barsam states that, “ Although filming might look to be entirely to delight our eyes with beautiful images, it is in fact an intricate linguistic communication that can lend to a film ‘s overall significance every bit much as the narrative, mise-en-scene, and moving bash ” ( Barsam 2007, p.140 ) . This means that the usage of the different facets of filming such as lighting, framing, camera angles can assist lend to construing the significance of the movie itself.

The two cinematographic elements which are chiefly used in the scenes include composing and camera motion. Barsam states that the composing component refers to the agreement of ocular elements within a shooting ( Barsam 2007, p.161 ) . There can be legion ocular elements within a shooting. Some of the elements include illuming, changeable composings ( long-shot, medium-shot, close-up ) , and dynamic composings. Barsam points out that a cardinal constituent of composing is illuming. The illuming forms the manner the film looks and helps state the narrative ( Barsam 2007, p.148 ) . Among its belongingss are its beginning, quality, way and manner. Barsam states that the different belongingss of illuming work together with other elements to find the overall temper and significance of a scene ( Barsam 2007, p.154 ) .

Harmonizing to Barsam, the 2nd cinematographic component, camera motion, can alter the manner we see the images because any motion of the camera modifies the different elements of bordering. These elements include camera angle, degree, tallness, types of shootings and graduated table ( Barsam 2007, p.176 ) . The traveling camera opens up cinematic infinite, and therefore film makers use it to accomplish many effects. Barsam points out that the traveling camera leads the spectator ‘s oculus, or focuses the spectator ‘s attending and, by traveling into the scene, helps make the semblance of deepness in the level screen image. ( Barsam 2007, p.176 )

The first scene I will be analyzing is the scene where Lester foremost spots Angela. In this scene, Lester and Carolyn decided to back up Jane at her school where she was executing a dance at half-time. This scene is important because it shows how Fifty begins to arise against who he is, as a consequence of Angela ‘s gender. The scene begins with Lester and Carolyn geting at the hoops game right before Jane ‘s public presentation. Then as the public presentation begins, about instantly into the dance modus operandi, Angela is given an upward place in the frame elevated with dynamic composing. It is dynamic composing because there is motion within the fixed frame ( Barsam 2007, p.161 ) . By giving Angela an upward place within the frame, it suggests that Lester is taking notice of her. And as the scene continues, Angela has gotten Lester ‘s full attending. Angela is shown traveling towards the camera in another dynamic composing shooting complemented by the camera zooming in on her. This enhances Angela ‘s presence and this besides gave me an thought as to the grade of attending Lester is giving Angela due to her gender.

The scene continues with a inactive composing shooting of Lester. Harmonizing to Barsam, a inactive composing shooting is where there is no motion within the frame, unlike a dynamic composing where there is motion ( Barsam 2007, p.161 ) . The camera so begins to whizz in on Lester. As the camera rapid climb in, the crowd is eliminated and merely Lester is shown in the frame. Furthermore, Lester ‘s eyes appears to be bigger than they really are because of the manner the camera is concentrating on them. This makes Lester expression as though he is salivating over something he desires. At this point, the camera performs a point of position shooting demoing what Lester ‘s eyes are fixated on, and that is Angela. This once more displays the grade of captivation that Angela has placed over Lester. In Lester ‘s head, merely Angela and himself exists at that minute, and everyone else is filtered out as they are non of any importance to Lester.

The scene so concludes with a shot-reverse-shot of Angela and Lester. A shot-reverse-shot is where one character is shown looking at another character ( frequently off-screen ) , and so the other character is shown looking back at the first character. Since the characters are shown confronting in opposite waies, the spectator assumes that they are looking at each other ( Yale Film Studies Program 2002 ) . This allowed me to see that in Lester ‘s phantasy, Angela is dancing erotically merely for him, giving each other the same sum of attending. Because of the fact the Lester is wanting a miss that is his girl ‘s age, it should be noted that Angela and Lester are ne’er shown in the same frame in the scene as this suggests that there is some barrier in between them.

Another proficient component which I found that added to the effectivity of the scene, was the lighting. In the point of position shooting from Lester ‘s position that showed that he was fixated on Angela, Angela was shown by herself in the frame. And as mentioned above, this is to indicate out that Lester merely has his attending on Angela. The lighting used complemented the shooting as the lighting helped to concentrate my attending on Lester ‘s hypertrophied eyes and this showed me that he was being enchanted by what he was seeing.

Another manner the lighting was used in the scene was when Angela was shown entirely in the frame and the background in the shooting became a batch darker. At the same clip, a bright visible radiation shined on Angela from above. The lighting in this shooting is high contrast and low key. It is high contrast because the difference between the visible radiation and darkness is clear. Barsam states that low key lighting is when small or no fill visible radiation is used, the ratio between bright light and deep shadow is really high ( Barsam 2007, p.152 ) . This is shown in the shooting because Angela ‘s shadow can be seen behind her and shadows can be seen on the remainder of Lester ‘s face, excepting his eyes.

I found that illuming contributed rather a batch in this scene. First, I felt that the light reflecting entirely on Angela portrays Angela as the object of Lester ‘s attending. Barsam states that illuming thrown down on a character from above can be used for many different effects, ( Internet Explorer: exposure ) ( Barsam 2007, p.153 ) . In the instance of this scene, the visible radiation may be portraying the artlessness and pureness of Angela as she was a virgin throughout the full movie and as visible radiation can sometimes be affiliated with good and darkness with bad. The darkness in the background may stand for her sham personality where she lies about her sexual experience to the people around her. The darkness environing Lester during the stopping point up shootings of him may be stand foring the sexual ideas he fantasizes about in the scene. And therefore the darkness surrounds him throughout the shootings of him paying full attending to Angela.

The 2nd scene I will be analyzing, is the scene towards the terminal of the movie when Lester ‘s phantasies and dreams are about to go world. This scene is important because it shows the 2nd bend of events which transforms Lester once more, but this clip back to the mature individual he one time was, and besides doing him recognize what it truly meant to do him happy. This scene besides makes usage of composing and camera motion.

The scene begins with Lester traveling close towards Angela who is lying on the sofa. The camera pans right while following Lester. I found this to construct up suspense to what would go on following. And as the camera moves to the right, it moves back down. This is a dynamic shooting with downward motion. Dynamic because of the motion within the frame and downward motion because the camera moves in a downward motion. Harmonizing to Barsam, this downward motion implies a negative action ( Barsam 2007, p.177 ) . In this instance, the negative action is Lester ‘s sexual inclinations towards Angela who is a adolescent. Barsam besides mentions that the downward motion implies the loss of something ( Barsam 2007, p.177 ) . In this instance, the loss is of Angela ‘s virginity.

The following shooting is of Angela looking at a 45 grade angle in the frame. This is known as a Dutch-angle shooting. Harmonizing to Barsam, a Dutch-angle shooting is when the camera is tilted from its normal horizontal and perpendicular place so that it is no longer directly, giving the spectator the feeling that the universe in the frame is out of balance ( Barsam 2007, p.174 ) . The Dutch-angle accentuates the unnatural nature of the actions in the frame. In this instance, it is of the unnatural reaction of Angela, who is about to hold a sexual experience for the first clip. As the scene continues, the camera pans from left to compensate and compensate to go forth following Lester ‘s custodies as they go up and down Angela ‘s organic structure. I found that this intensified the titillating feeling of the scene.

In the following shooting, the camera moves to a dynamic Crane shooting, demoing Lester ‘s custodies unbuttoning Angela ‘s shirt. Harmonizing to Barsam, a Crane shooting is a shooting made from a camera mounted onto an elevating arm that, in bend, is mounted on a vehicle capable of traveling by its ain power ensuing in it being more flexible due to the freedom of horizontal and perpendicular motion. The shooting is so followed by a shot-reverse shooting of Angela and Lester looking at one another. In the scene, Angela was given the low angle shooting, looking up at Lester. Barsam states that a low-angle shooting is made with the camera below the action and typically places the perceiver in the place of experiencing helpless in the presence of a superior force ( Barsam 2007, 171 ) . In other words, a low-angle shooting emphasizes anxiousness, fright and exposure. The fact that Angela is looking up at Lester besides implies that Lester is in control. However, I noticed during the Crane shootings, Angela ‘s place in the frame is ever higher than Lester ‘s. In a manner, this implies that she is pure and guiltless because good elements are normally given a higher place over bad elements ( eg: Heaven up, Hell down ) .

In the following shooting, Angela reveals to Lester that she is a virgin. At this point, the shooting goes back to Lester, who is in a Dutch-angle shooting smilings and asks if Angela was pull the leg ofing. The ground for the Dutch-angle shooting is because Lester has realized what he was making was unnatural. After this shooting, is the 2nd major turning point in Lester ‘s transmutation, where he eventually realizes after all this piece, that being lubricious for a adolescent was n’t what it meant to be happy.

The lighting technique used in this scene seemed to portray the visible radiation and darkness symbolic significance that was mentioned above. Throughout the full scene, there was ever a light reflecting down on Angela but Lester was ever kept in darkness. And with composing of Angela ‘s white shirt and the soft visible radiation reflecting on it stressing the white coloring material of the shirt, the light represents pureness and artlessness because Angela is a virgin. Whereas, the darkness that surrounds Lester, and the minimum illuming reflecting on his custodies as he moves his custodies up and down Angela ‘s organic structure represents the dross of his actions. The lighting used throughout this scene was low contrast and low key. Low contrast because the lighting used was subdued and instead grey.

In the concluding shootings of the scene, the lighting used were low contrast and low key every bit good because that implies a sense of enigma. As a spectator, although Lester had come to recognize what it meant to accomplish felicity, there was something which kept me inquiring what would go on. And true plenty, the movie ended with Lester acquiring killed.

Throughout the movie, there were many more cinematographic elements used which emphasized the personalities and features of each character such as high-angle shootings, the usage of short-focal-length lenses and Long takes. However, because I interpreted the film as Lester ‘s transmutations through being “ reborn ” , I found that the cinematographic qualities used in the two scenes I analysed to be the most important in my reading of and emotional response to “ American Beauty ” .


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