Sunday, 14 September 2014
American Beauty - Representation Of Lester Burnham
The first time the audience meets Lester, he is shown laying alone in a double bed. This hints towards the idea of an unhappy and loveless life, and it leaves us wondering where the partner could be, if there is one at all. The mise en scene in his bedroom also shows many things about Lester. The room is very bare and is coloured using only browns and beiges. This once again shows his boring and empty life. The camerawork in this scene also shows us how little Lester's presence is valued by his family, as he is shown to be very far away and small. The next scene shows Lester in the shower, as his narrative voice tells the audience that the highlight of his day is 'jerking off in the shower'. This once again backs up the idea that his life is very boring, and also that it lacks any love or sex. This scene also hints at the idea of Lester being trapped in this circle of events, as he is shown inside the shower door 'caged in'.
The next scene shows his wife out in the garden, and the contrast between himself and his wife is very obvious straight away, as the scene is overwhelmingly colourful and vibrant. This scene also highlights that Lester has been 'feminised' by his wife, as she is the one up ready to face the day, leaving Lester inside doing his normal boring morning routine. This is also another scene which Lester is shown to be 'trapped' as he is situated in the back of the scene behind the bars of the window, as if in a jail cell. The 'reversed role' idea is brought up again in this scene, when Lester's wife is shown impatiently beeping the horn of her car to signal that she is ready to leave. She is wearing a well fitting suit and even assumes the stereotypical male stance up against the car. This is a brilliant example of how Lester has been pushed to take the role of the stereotypical female in his relationship. He is also made to sit in the back seat of the car on the journey to work, showing his family have branded him not only as an inferior, but also as a child.
The final scene we watched in the film starts off with Lester's face in the reflection of his computer screen. The numbers on the screen form 'bars' of a prison cell and illustrate how Lester is trapped once again, but this time by his job. As the scene moves on, he visits his boss who is placed in the centre of the frame, and fills the frame top to bottom. The same cannot be said for lester however, who is made to be the smallest object in the frame, barely covering the centre. This shows us (the audience) how Lester's relationship with his workmates is very poor. It could indicate that Lester is not seen as an important part of the business, only someone who is present at all times with no real purpose.