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“American Beauty” is a film about living in suburbia. The film gives a clear view of the unhappiness underneath the surface of people’s perfect lives. Each scene is symmetrical. Couches are perfectly centered in shots with matching lamps on either side of them. Everything is in its place, such as the dinner plates and flower arrangements. Everything on the outside seems beautiful and happy; the characters are living the American dream. A picket fence frames the Burnham’s front yard and a beautiful garden of roses lines the driveway. When examined closer, these things can’t hide the imperfections that exist beyond the front door. The scene examined in this paper is when Lester decides to start exercising. He joins his neighbors, Jim and Jim, during their daily run. The scene develops into the first drug transaction between Lester and Ricky.
The camera movement is very interesting in this scene. It begins with a moving bird’s eye view of Lester’s street. This shows Lester moving backward in time to take a look at
the life he once lived. Everything from this elevation looks very normal and “perfect”. The houses are all in rows with trees lining the streets. The scene cuts to the camera moving the opposite way on the ground. It is a long shot of Jim and Jim running with Lester towards the camera. This shows time moving forward again once Lester’s story switches to the present. When closer to the ground, the “non-perfect” issues are more obvious. The camera focuses on Colonel Fitz washing his car window. As the camera gets closer and closer to the Colonel, the homosexual neighbors, Jim and Jim, are seen in the reflection of the Colonel’s car window. If Colonel Fitz is examined closer as this shot does, one can see that he reflects himself, a homosexual.
The angles are also very revealing in this scene. While running with Jim and Jim, the camera is constantly moving to a lower angle on Les...
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