Family Life In "American Beauty" Essay

5906 words - 24 pages

Family life in American BeautyI. IntroductionII. A view on the contemporary American familya) The (stereo)typical American family - Does it exist?b) Gender roles and marriagec) Women in workforce - Masculinity in crisisIII. The Burnhams - A suburban family dramaa) A modern double-career family - the Burnhamsb) Out of the monotony - A bit on the sidec) The effect of being dishonest - A family disbandsIV. ConclusionV. BibliographyI. IntroductionIt probably took me more than 3 years after its coming on screen in 1999 that I felt like watching American Beauty. I confess that I did not know what the movie was about. Just from looking at the posters advertising the movie everywhere at the time the ...view middle of the document...

People have to stick to their sides and hardly ever swap camps. What happens next? Boy meets girl. Of course, boy and girl are from different positions and cannot get together. In general, the rest of the film tells the story about how the unpopular student manages to befriend the popular student (usually by getting rid of glasses and baggy clothes and by having a different hair cut); or about how the conceited, spoiled kid finds out about the real values in life and becomes a better person (and gets the love of his life as a reward).Being modern fairy tales, nice and easy to watch, these movies transfer the image of a successful, rich, and contented community within a mythical, yet familiar American Dream : Anything is possible as long as you work hard for it. To be honest, movies like this are not my cup of tea. One reason might be the fact that my school days have been over for quite a long time. Or maybe it is because I have learned different lessons from life, for example, that things often did not turn out the way I planned them. I simply cannot identify with the characters and messages of these American Hollywood movies and therefore get bored and annoyed while I watch them.When I started the film and literature seminar - which I enjoyed very much - I joined two fellow students in order to prepare the team presentation of a film. The selection of films comprised Dracula, Harry Potter, and American Beauty. I took the chance to watch American Beauty for the first time, because my team colleagues had already agreed on it as the subject for our team teaching. After the first two scenes of the movie, I knew that I had been completely wrong about the film and immediately changed my attitude towards it. This film was not the average, happy, superficial, and everything-is-possible-as-long-as-you-stick-to-it Hollywood movie with the inevitable happy end. On the contrary, here I had to look closer (as suggested on the film poster, just underneath the title of the film). American beauty is about family, love, neighbourhood and dreams, the same as any of the typical American films which I have mentioned before and which I am not particularly keen on. So, where is the difference? It is different in many ways, for example, in its light and colour, in its camera movement, in its soundtrack, and, of course, in its content. The movie is not only about dreams, but also about losing illusions. It is not only about love, but also about hate. It is full of disappointment, yet crammed with hope and expectations. There are so many things to discover about this film, that it is really worth looking closer. One aspect which fascinated me most is the depiction of family life in American Beauty: the marriages, the relationships between the partners, the relationships between parents and children, the neighbourhood. In this paper, I will try to compare the typical American textbook family with the Burnham family portrayed in American Beauty and will underline my...

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