- Free Essays, Term Papers & Book Notes

American Beauty by Sam Mendes

Page 1 of 5

September 24, 2015

American Beauty by Sam Mendes

Cinematography can be defined as an art of making photoplay. Its goal is to perfection the movie and at the same time affects the audience‘s feeling while watching .It makes a movie become a success  by involving camera techniques such as tracking shot, slow motion, deep focus shallow and soft focus. In America Beauty, camera techniques are demonstrated as well as the lighting which plays an important role in creating the atmosphere in the movie. The framing is also a good element to add to a movie based on the fact that it focuses the viewer’s attention to the object. When I watched American Beauty, these above elements have caught my attention in some scenes.

American beauty was released in 1999. It’s a romantic drama movie directed by Sam Mendes and narrated by Lester Burnham.  Lester Burnham is Carolyn Burnham’s husband and Jane Burnham’s father.  He is a 42 year old unhappily married man who despites his wife, daughter and his job.  The Burnham family welcomes their new neighbors Frank Fitts and his wife Barbara. Their teenage son, Ricky spends most of his time filming his surrounding through his bedroom window and secretly sells marijuana. He became close to Lester and supplies him with marijuana. He also starts a relationship with Jane. Lester has started flirting and having sexual fantasies about his daughter‘s friend Angela since the day that him and his wife went to see their daughter performs a dance routine at school. Lester quits his job to work for a fast food restaurant. He buys a new car and begins to work out in order to seduce Angela.  In the meantime, Lester found out that he is being cheated on by Carolyn, but doesn’t care at all.  Fitts has suspicions about the relationship between his son and Lester, then he ends up thinking that the two are homosexuals. He faced Lester and get rejected when he tried to kiss him. A few minutes after, Lester found Angela alone in the dark. She seduced him and when they are about to have sex, she confesses that she is actually a virgin. That changed Lester’s mind and he let her go without doing anything. Later on, Lester get killed by an unseen figure. Despite his death, the narrator affirms that he had meaningful experiences when he was alive and he is happy because of the beauty existing in this world.

The movie Start with an aerial shot of the Burnham neighborhood. The street in that city let give an opinion that the Burnham’s family is a sad family and has no meaning to the world. The fact that Lester is shot small in the first scenes of the movie makes him small and unimportant. However, that shot become larger as the movie is progressing, making him powerful. In his office, the camera shoots a deep focus image that keeps it entire and sharp.  The scene seems oppressive because of the light glaring down accompanied with the shot the ceiling, which makes the office more powerful that Lester. The scene is cut many time in the movie in order to make it appear absolute and soft to the audience.  An example is when the Fitts is welcomed by their neighbors. Colonel Fitts is shown on camera when opening the door, then when the door is faced to the camera, the camera moves to a shot of many people at that door.  The camera movement during the movie is really fast. Also, a left to right tracking shot is perceived when Lester is shot at the end. At that moment, he talks about the good and bad experience he lived. The left to right tracking shot allows his memories to flow together efficiently. The camera initiates his life by using the left and right movement.

Lighting is also an element that I caught in the movie. It fascinates the audience’s perceptions of characters. The scene where Lester dreams about Angela in a bathtub full of roses is in soft light which gives the impression of a real dream. The soft light also adds a romantic mood to all the scene where Ricky and Jane are together.

In conclusion, I think American Beauty is a total success. I like the way that the scenes progress from the beginning to the end of the movie. The use of the parallel editing cut adds interest and gives excitement to the audience.  The acting was realistic, I could relate it to real life. The end of the movie is the best part for me because all the characters get a taste of the life they have dreamed about during the movie. Unfortunately, they realized their dreams are only illusions.  American beauty won the Oscar in 2000 for best writing, screenplay by Alan Ball and best Cinematography by Conrad L. Hall.

Download as (for upgraded members)
Citation Generator

(2015, 10). American Beauty by Sam Mendes. Retrieved 10, 2015, from

"American Beauty by Sam Mendes" 10 2015. 2015. 10 2015 <>.

"American Beauty by Sam Mendes.", 10 2015. Web. 10 2015. <>.

"American Beauty by Sam Mendes." 10, 2015. Accessed 10, 2015.