Tuesday, 1 October 2013

American Beauty: Mise en Scene Analysis -

I am going to analyse a clip from American Beauty. The clip I have selected features Lester. Prior to this scene, he has just quit his long term job and is on his way to a fast food restaurant and a sense of happiness is in the air -

In the opening of this scene Lester appears to be very excited and seems as if he is once again enjoying life. He is smoking, driving fast and has music blaring out of the stereo.
These actions may be viewed upon as 'childish' by the audience as smoking, driving too fast and listening to music which is too loud are stereotypical of young people or teenagers. This may foreshadow Lester's desire to relive his teenage days, as at that point in his life he had no pressures and was able to have fun and enjoy living. However, the fact he is smoking and driving too fast may be foreshadowing his death as it is a sign of his health deteriorating and a serious risk or danger in his life.

The song which is playing features the lyrics 'american woman, stay away from me.' This may be a sign or symbol of Lester's previous feelings up until this point, as until now, all three American women; Carolyn, Angela and even Jane have been controlling and manipulating his life. The lyrics are significant as they are the exact words Lester has been missing from his vocabulary throughout the film, however, now he is not afraid to say them, but sing them as loudly as possible. This may suggest to the audience that he has regained his inner confidence and that he once again has control o
f his life, and that the women do not.
On the windscreen of Lester's car we see the reflection of the city and the buildings flashing by in front of Lester's face. This may be a symbol or a view of Lester's life, how it is moving very quickly and is ever-changing. Also, the colour of the buildings may be foreshadowing Lester's death, as the first building we see is interesting, light in colour and has many windows. This may represent his current mood or his current happiness, and the windows are to show his new outlook or new views on life. However as that building disappears another one comes into the picture, this one is dark and very plain and may give the audience an insight into what Lester's death is going to be like. As soon as the darker building has reached Lester the scene changes.

In the next scene, we see Lester driving into a car park of a fast food restaurant. The floor is wet, however the sky is clear and the sun is shining brightly. This may be a symbol of Lester's new found confidence once more, as the wet floor suggests it has been raining, however now the weather is clear and bright. This may represent Lester's life as well as his new sense of inner peace. The weather suggest how his life was once dark and miserable, just like a day when the sky is dark and rain is pouring from the clouds, however now it is bright and everything appears beautiful and calm.

Lester then enters a 'drive thru' He is asked by a
woman on the counter if he would like to try a 'meal deal' however he responds by saying 'no' and is adamant he wants a 'big barn burger'. This may symbolise Lester's control of his life, as he is no longer afraid of standing up for himself and is able to get what he wants, also the fact he is not being controlled by a woman may also show his new ability to take charge of his life and will not be manipulated or controlled by a woman ever again. Lester then drives further on to the second window where he is greeted by the same woman with his meal. The woman is stood in the window. the background is dark, and she is wearing a typical fast food restaurant uniform. She stands out to Lester and may be the reason why he applies for a job, as it appears as if she is coming out of the darkness, just like Lester has. Also, the fact her uniform is bright and colourful may represent happiness, something else Lester now feels he has. The Restaurant is called 'Mr.Smiley's' which suggests to the audience how happy Lester really is, as he is prepared to rid himself of his dull, grey, miserable suit, and work in a place that allows him to wear a uniform which is full of colour and happiness, something which will make him stand out for a change.

When Lester has asked about a possible job he says the words 'i'm looking for the least possible amount of responsibility' this once again suggests his desire to relieve his teenage years and suggests he wants to live an easy life, a life of freedom without any worry, even when he is at work.

In the final scene of the clip, Lester is sat with what appears to be the restaurant manager. They are sat at a table and a bright light is hanging down. Lester is sat in darkness and shadows whilst the manager is in the light. The scene is set out to look like a police interrogation table. The lighting and props create a tense slightly nervous mood, as this scene could be 'make or break' for Lester, as he has finally found new confidence and to be rejected again may be to much for him to handle.
The manager is convinced Lester is 'to good' for the job, however, Lester desperately attempts to persuade the manager to give him the job. This may connote Lester's desperation to leave his old life behind, as he feels as if he is ready to step out of the shadows and into the light, therefore he is ready to leave behind his dark past and step into his bright future.
The clip ends with the manager sighing, which may suggest that he has given in, as Lester's confidence and new up beat personality has persuaded him that he is the right man for the job.

Below is the clip i have analysed, watch it for yourself and see if you agree with the points i have discussed -

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