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AMERICAN BEAUTY Rev. by Kate 2011/5/6 Presented by Angus, David H., David K., Denis, Didier, Ginger, Yvette.

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Presentation on theme: "AMERICAN BEAUTY Rev. by Kate 2011/5/6 Presented by Angus, David H., David K., Denis, Didier, Ginger, Yvette."— Presentation transcript:

1 AMERICAN BEAUTY Rev. by Kate 2011/5/6 Presented by Angus, David H., David K., Denis, Didier, Ginger, Yvette.

2 Outline Introduction: American suburbia Starting Questions The Adults Repression and Lesters Search for a Change vs. Carolyn (& Buddy Kane) and Jane; at work and vs. Angela Symbols The Younger Generations Ricky vs. Frank Ending: the final killing

3 Nucleus Family and Suburban Life in America Suburbia in the United States: The Ideal Image of A Home: At the very beginning, also in the end of the film, we can see the neatly lined up houses. A perfect neighborhood, tranquil and peaceful ambience. Normality: On the surface every house is identical, the shape, the silhouette, the colour of the houses, the size of the gardens…etc. However, the interior varies so are the different families. They encounter different obstacles, hold different values, but they are mostly isolated from one another.

4 Starting Questions 1. How do we characterize the two families? 2. What does the film title American Beauty mean? (e.g. chap 16) 3. What are the functions of cars, houses, photo and video camera? 4. How are the families in this film different from those in The Great Gatsby? 5. Ending: Is Lesters love narcissistic?

5 Family Tree: The Burnham Family Lester Burnham ---- Carolyn Burnham | Jane Burnham Frank Fitts (United States Marine Corps Colonel) – Barbara (a subdued and introverted wife) -- Ricky e.g. chap 5

6 Carolyn Burnham (chap 3) A real estate agent and housewife concurrently Outside: Apparently elegant, friendly and always smiling. ex: Interacted with the gay neighbor. Inside: domineering at home, overruled at work (Whos the King?) and punctilious. ex: - She is the one who drives car. - Owning the command of dinner music. selling the image (chap 7)

7 Carolyn cares a lot about appearance Quote 1. Carolyn Carolyn : Are you trying to look unattractive? JaneJane: Yes. Carolyn Carolyn : Well, congratulations. You've succeeded admirably. Quote 2. After cheerleading Carolyn Carolyn : Honey, I'm so proud of you. I watched you very closely, and you didn't screw up once!

8 Sweet home? The setting of dinner table is neat and ordered. Roses and flowers in bottles everywhere. Intimated melody is played every night. Family portraits.

9 About Carolyns Job… To sell the beautiful fantasy and ideal image of a HOUSE. To fulfill peoples expectation toward a house. Quote: - Carolyn Burnham: My company sells an image. It's part of my job to live that image.Carolyn Burnham - Sale House Woman : The ad said this pool was lagoon-like. There's nothing lagoon-like about it, except for the bugs. There aren't even any plants out here! Carolyn Burnham: What do you call this? Is this not a plant? If you have a problem with my plants, I can always call my landscape architect! Solved!Sale House Woman Carolyn Burnham

10 Carolyns depression from job From I will sell this house today, I will sell this house today… to crackup. Slap herself and said shut up, shut up…. Self- inhibition. The blind and the empty room isolation.

11 Carolyn depression from home See her husband as a loser. Sexually frustrated from the marriage. Mother-daughter relationship is not good, either. Quote: Carolyn Burnham: You ungrateful little brat! Just look at everything you have. When I was your age, we... lived in a duplex! We didn't even have our own house!Carolyn Burnham

12 Her release Her success-driven character renders her the most hopeless in the film's tone of moral conviction. "In order to be successful in life one must project the appearance of success" ---Buddy Kane. Turned her attitude toward Buddy from respect to servitude.

13 I refuse to be a victim… I refuse to be a victim… Release her pressure by shooting. Quote: I love shooting this gun. Man on audiotape I refuse to be a victim

14 with Buddy … Quote - Buddy Kane: Do you like getting nailed by the King? Carolyn : Yes, your majesty! - Carolyn: That was exactly what I needed. The royal treatment, so to speak.Buddy Kane Carolyn

15 Character: Lester Burnham Lester Burnham is in a mid-life crisis, caused by his stressed wife Carolyn and rebelling teenage daughter Jane. He became obsessed with his daughters best friend Angela, and decided to change his life. He is looked down upon by both his wife and daughter, and he admitted that he himself is a gigantic loser. He also thinks to alter the fact that he Is a loser is futile. (Before meeting Angela)

16 Family Relations [Lester and Carolyn are driving to the basketball game to watch Jane's dance team gig] Lester Burnham: Well what makes you so sure she wants us to be there? Did she ask us to come? Carolyn Burnham: Of course not. She doesn't want us to know how important this is to her. But she's been practicing her steps for weeks. Lester Burnham: Well, I'll bet money she's going to resent it, and I'm missing the James Bond marathon on TNT. Carolyn Burnham: Lester, this is important. I'm sensing a real distance growing between you and Jane. Lester Burnham: "Growing?" She hates me. Carolyn Burnham: She's just willful. Lester Burnham: She hates you too. (Clip) Lester Burnham Carolyn Burnham Lester Burnham Carolyn Burnham Lester Burnham Carolyn Burnham Lester Burnham

17 Sexually Frustrated by His Wife -- Masturbating Lester BurnhamLester Burnham: Look at me, jerking off in the shower... This will be the high point of my day; it's all downhill from here. Carolyn Burnham: Don't you mess with me, mister, or I'll divorce you so fast it'll make your head spin! Lester Burnham: On what grounds? I'm not a drunk, I don't fuck other women, I've never hit you, I don't mistreat you... I don't even try to touch you since you've made it so abundantly clear how unnecessary you consider me to be! But I did support you when you got your license, and some people might think that entitles me to half of what's yours. So, turn off the light when you come to bed! Lester is inferior to his wife in many aspects. So in their relationship Lester does not represent the phallus. Hes physical needs and desire are not taken care of by the other half. He does not share intimacy with his wife, instead he masturbates himself.

18 Lester Burnham vs. His Wife about possessions Lester Burnham Carolyn Burnham Carolyn Burnham: This is a $4,000 sofa, upholstered in Italian silk. It is not just a couch. Lester Burnham: [shouts] It's just a couch! Lester: buying a dream car, working out to regain masculinity e.g. chap 19

19 Lester Burnham vs. Jane Considerate -- Jane Before: He cares very much about Jane, more than he shows. He tries to talk to her a few times but was turned down by her. Later on he stopped being so nice to her out of frustration. After: Lester Burnham: You better watch yourself, Jane, or you're going to turn into a real BITCH, just like your MOTHER!

20 Lester Jane They used to be close, but drifted apart *In the kitchen We used to be pals *At the dinner table I mean, hello youve barely even spoken to me for months *Family pictures of them displayed everywhere in the house Concerned a lot about Jane *Narrating about Jane, trying to know her angry, insecure, confused I wish I could tell her thats all going to pass, but I dont want to lie to her *On the way to the stadium What make sure she wants us to be there? Did she ask us to come? Ill bet shes going to resent it *Asked Angela Hows Jane Is she happy? Is she miserable Id really like to know, and shed die before shed ever tell me about it *Look at the photo (Before he died), his satisfied peaceful smile *The flashback of his life at the moment he died, he saw Jane a lot of times Her importance in his mind

21 Lester Jane Trying hard to make up, but always ended up badly *At the dinner table, asked her how was her school Received coldness( short and heartless answer) *To get her attention by being humorous What do you expect? You cant all the sudden be my best friend just because you had a bad day *In the kitchen (After dinner) feel sorry about the distance, apologized to her Received coldness (Jane walked away) *In the Kitchen (In the morning) Youd better watch out Janie, or youre going turn into a real bitch just like your mother

22 Nostalgic (Need a change) (clip) Lester Burnham: When I was your age, I flipped burgers all summer just to be able to buy an eight- track. Ricky Fitts: That sucks. Lester Burnham: No, actually it was great. All I did was party and get laid. I had my whole life ahead of me. Lester goes on a few nostalgia trips during the film. It shows that he precious the old good times he shared with his family. The last flash back is the most pronounced, vivid evidence. The images of Jane and Carolyn (back then) are what he cherished the most.

23 Lester : opting for a change Personal Hero * Quit his job very carelessly and mindlessly (Confident) Catering BossCatering Boss: I'm not paying you to do... whatever it is you're doing out here. Ricky Fitts: Fine. So don't pay me. Catering Boss: Excuse me? Ricky Fitts: I quit. So you don't have to pay me. Now leave me alone. Catering Boss:...asshole. Lester Burnham: I think you just became my personal hero! Ricky Fitts Catering Boss Ricky Fitts Catering Boss Lester Burnham *Drug dealing with denial and courage Ricky Fitts: My dad thinks I pay for all this with catering jobs. Never underestimate the power of denial Ricky Fitts Purchase drugs from Ricky Reminder of his past and youth *Pink Floyd (While buying drugs from him) Lester BurnhamLester Burnham: When I was your age, I flipped burgers all summer just to be able to buy an eight-track. Ricky Fitts: That sucks. Lester Burnham: No, actually it was great. All I did was party and get laid. I had my whole life ahead of me. Ricky Fitts Lester Burnham

24 Lester Burnham at Work Brad Dupree and Smiley Manager Lester is intelligent and eloquent. He does not pursue a material life, his values toward materials effects his career life and attitude. He is not fussy about jobs, as long as he gets paid. From his previous working experience we can tell that he does not want to lie to people (what he thinks about the advertisement company.) Insert 2 clips Brad Dupree: [reading Lester's job description] "My job consists of basically masking my contempt for the assholes in charge, and, at least once a day, retiring to the men's room so I can jerk off while I fantasize about a life that doesn't so closely resemble Hell." Well, you have absolutely no interest in saving yourself. Lester Burnham: Brad, for 14 years I've been a whore for the advertising industry. The only way I could save myself now is if I start firebombing. Brad Dupree Lester Burnham

25 Mr. Smiley's Manager: I don't think you'd fit in here. Lester Burnham: I have fast food experience. Mr. Smiley's Manager: Yeah, like twenty years ago! Lester Burnham: Well, I'm sure there have been amazing technological advances in the industry, but surely you must have some sort of training program. It seems unfair to presume I won't be able to learn. Mr. Smiley's Manager Lester Burnham Mr. Smiley's Manager Lester Burnham

26 Opting for a Change … - Working out, playing music out loud in the garage. - Buying the car he always dreamed of: Carolyn BurnhamCarolyn Burnham: Uh, whose car is that out front? Lester BurnhamLester Burnham: Mine. 1970 Pontiac Firebird. The car I've always wanted and now I have it. I rule! (Clip?)

27 Lester Burnham Buddy Kane [Carolyn is introducing Lester to the Real Estate King] Carolyn Burnham: My husband, Lester. Buddy Kane: It's a pleasure. Lester Burnham: Oh, we've met before, actually. This thing last year, Christmas at the Sheraton... Buddy Kane: [pretends to remember] Oh yeah, yes... Lester Burnham: It's OK, I wouldn't remember me either. Carolyn Burnham: [laughs nervously] Honey, don't be weird. Lester Burnham: OK honey, I won't be weird. I'll be whatever what you want me to be. [Lester kisses Carolyn wildly, then looks at the Real Estate King] Lester Burnham: We have a very healthy relationship. (clip1, 2- At the Smileys) Carolyn Burnham Buddy Kane Lester Burnham Buddy Kane Lester Burnham Carolyn Burnham Lester Burnham Lester vs. Buddy Kane -- The kiss is intended to clarify that Carolyn is His Wife, and make sure that Kane draws a clear line between them.

28 Lester Burnham Angela Lesters relationship with Angela can be interpreted differently. 1. Lester sees her as his daughters best friend. The love that he wants to give to his daughter was turned down. So he turned this love for his daughter to her best friend, which is the closest person to her (from Lesters point of view.) 2. Lester sees Angela as a new target of life. An alternative to his static live style. A challenge and a desire he closely developed in his reveries. 3. He knows that Angela fancies him to some degree, and he thinks if Angela accepts him, Jane will do the same. 4. Pure sexual desire. Out of fascination and helplessness. Chap 5: For years I was like being in a coma, and now I am awake… (Lying on the bed, with Angela on the ceiling covered with roses)

29 LESTER BURNHAM Repression Work Doing stuff he doesnt like Too honest and ordinary to be neglected (didnt get promoted to the place he deserved) "My job consists of basically masking my contempt for the assholes in charge, for 14 years I've been a whore for the advertising industry Family Being looked down upon by his wife and daughter I am sick and tired of being treated like I don't exist. You two do whatever you want, whenever you want to do it, and I don't complain. Methods of Self-Liberation Jerk off in the shower and the mens room and, at least once a day, retiring to the men's room so I can jerk off while I fantasize about a life that doesn't so closely resemble Hell." Talk back to his boss and wife The only way I could save myself now is if I start firebombing. [Lester throws the asparagus plate at the wall] Don't interrupt me, honey! Oh, yeah, and one more thing, from now on we're going to have alternate dinner music because frankly - and I don't think I'm alone here I'm tired of this Lawrence Welk shit! Quit his job Singing LOUD in the car Get high Listen to Rock music, Smoke weed Fantasizes about Angela

30 SYMBOLS Rose, Window and Camera/Photo

31 Symbols: The Roses, Windows and Family Portraits Roses: The symbol that interweaved the film Chap 5: In Lesters imaginary world, Angela is always covered with roses. Roses stands for sexual lust and is the commonly used to represent beauty. Roses come out flying from Angelas breasts. Roses dropped from the ceiling where Angela lie looking down at him on his bed. Chap Angela taking a hot bath filled with roses. Chap 9: Lester imagined Angela touching him, and pull out a pedal from his own mouth. Here the rose pedal is produced by Lester himself. The roses planted by Carolyn

32 - Lester is trapped inside the building. Americans weirdest home video. - For instance: Through Ricky Fitts camera, we see Lester working out behind the window. The shadows of the bars on the windows cast on Lesters body like he was caged within it. Windows:

33 Family Portraits The photos of Burnham family appears very often through out the film. The family, as the photo frame that bound the three of them together. The smiles in the photos shows the time that they used to be happy, and enjoy each others company. That is the reason of Lesters frequent flash backs. And the solid evidence of how much he cherishes his time with Carolyn and Jane. The ending part clip*


35 Jane vs Angela Angela –apparently stronger than Jane. Pretty outside Weak and lie about her sexual experience Angelayearns to be desired, hates to be ordinary. Jane – unsure about herself Youll never be a freak cause youre just too perfect! [01:38:14]

36 Repression of Jane Only child Family problem Lack of self-confidence Contradictions Love and hate

37 How Jane releases her desire Took off her cloth A beauty and pure heart Had a fight with Angela Im no more a kid than you are. Shes someone you use to feel better about yourself. [01:37:55] Plan to run away with Ricky To cast her shell

38 The Younger Generation Jane activeJane actively using the video

39 Lester Frank To Lester, Frank is a serious controlling person *They greeted each other Frank didnt react much *Buying drugs from Ricky knew him collecting his sons urine Shocked to see Franks confession Killed by Frank Their relationship was dramatic : normal neighborhood sudden affectionate confession tragic death end

40 Collapsed again after getting caught… Quote: Janine: Youre so busted. Carolyn: You know, this really doesnt concern you. Clip 1:26:48 to 1:29:30

41 Isolation of Jane Family dinner Friends Admires Angela Meaningless Superficial Vanity

42 Sense of lack Love Family I need a father whos a role model. Friend Romantic Meaning and beauty of life

43 External or internal First meet Ricky in school Angela And why he dress like a Bible salesman? Jane Hes, like, so confident. [28:53] Filming the dead bird Angela I think you forget your medication today, mental boy. [54:57]

44 Jane vs Ricky Low self-confident vs high self-confident Lover and a tutor Jane Its weird watching myself. I dont like how I look. Ricky I cant believe you dont know how beautiful you are. [01:18:13] They said eyes are the window of soul

45 Jane vs Lester Nearly broken relation Lester dont care about her heart Jane loves him Jane hates him Lester Janes a pretty typical teenager: angry, insecure, confused. [03:27] Jane Someone really should just put him out of his misery. [00:46]

46 Jane vs Carolyn Closer than Lester Carolyn: does not understand her I watched you very closely. You didnt screw up once. [18:00] Superficial comment You cannot count on anyone except yourself. You ungrateful little brat! Wrong way of teaching and being a model.


48 Rickys Background Childhood being sent to the hospital he would always save the most random, weird things 00:27 Family strict dad and wordless mom - smoking dope & selling drugs having a respectable job - the discipline father (military background) - the careless mother (hasnt known Ricky didnt eating bacon for years)

49 Repression & Isolation ? Accept the truth ~ Never underestimate the power of denial. (00:10:05) EX. Enjoy the beauty ~ Sometimes there's so much…beauty…in the world. EX.

50 Definition of Beauty Through the Digital Video - plastic bag - dead stuffs (bird, homeless woman, and Lester) ~ Ricky: When you see something like that, it's like God is looking right at you, just for a second, and if you're careful, you can look right back… Jane: And what do you see? Ricky: Beauty.

51 Beauty ~ compare with other characters ~ Carolyn & Bobby Success Angela & Rickys dad Perfection Rickys mom Obedience (Death Living) ---------------------------------------------------------------- Ricky Seize the beauty ~ Sometimes there's so much…beauty… in the world.I feel like I can't take it... and my just going to…cave in. (Alive Living)

52 Understand Desire and Weakness Ricky Angela [you're boring, and you're totally ordinary] Ricky Rickys dad [What a sad…old man you are.] Ricky Jane [You'd rather he had the crush on you.]

53 Frank Fitts Used to be a Colonel in the military Believes in extreme forms of discipline Has Decidedly off-putting personal habits Tend to demand and control the people around him Angry, bitter and rude A deeply homophobia

54 Isolation Interaction of Family members A. In the dining room - The reaction to the doorbell B. In the living room 1. No conversation 2. Silence 3. Awkward

55 Isolation Relationship with people A. Reaction to people he doesnt know 1. Passive attitude 2. Unfriendly and hostile B. How he introduce himself 1. Address himself with title 2. Colonel Frank Fitts, US Marine Corps

56 Isolation His past and role A. A typical father 1. Strict 2. Undeniable 3. Respectable B. A Colonel 1. Tough 2. Manly 3. Proud

57 Repression As a Colonel As a father he wants to be Stayed in high demanding position Dominate the situation Used to be Be caring Have close father- son relation Express his love A typical father Definite authority Power of controlling family Rickys Father

58 Repression Heterosexuality Have a perfect family Man should be tough and masculine Homosexuality Immorality Have a drug- addicted son Rebellion Normality Abnormality What a sad old man

59 Release Leisters answer of marriage A. Sense of empathy B. Self-identification His smile and the kiss Quotes Frank: Your wife is with another man, dont care? Leister: Nope, our marriage is just for show, a commercial for how normal we are.

60 Conflicts The Fights Feel be exposed Feel naked Feel shame Feel guilt The Gun Shot Sense of shame Sense of guilt Sense of control Symbols Locked Closet Nazi Plate Gun collection

61 Psychoanalysis Id Desire of Homosexuality Father love Superego Morality Typical father Role of a Colonel Discipline, Rules and Dignity Ego Compromise Pretending Hostile to outside

62 Ending: Whos murderer? Carolyns unconsciousness? She is not intended want to shoot Lester. phallus vs. be phallus The gun is for demonstrating her supremacy, but not for murdering. Her regret and mourning.

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