Wednesday, 6 October 2010

American Beauty

In this lesson, we watched the film 'American Beauty'. We payed particular attention to the opening sequence and looked at the techniques with the use of camera angles, sound and mise en scene.

The techniques of camera angles in American Beauty are a point of view shot, mid-shot, a close-up shot and a high-angle shot. The point of view shot shows the audience Ricky Fitts point of view of Jane so we can see that he is looking at Jane. This makes the audience feel part of the action as we see it from his perspective. It also gives an amateur effect as he is using a video recorder. The mid-shot is of Jane. This implies that the two characters know each other very well. A close-up is used to show Lester’s facial expressions, this way it gives the audience knowledge of his emotions and how he feels. The use of the high-angle shot overlooks the village which provides us information of the setting and the area.
For the sound in American Beauty, the audience can hear the conversation of the teenagers (diegetic). The use of this gives us an insight into the relationship by what they are saying to each other and the way they talk to one another. It also gives us ideas about the father of the girl as they mention him in the conversation. A repetitive soundtrack is also played in the background noise (diagetic), which could add to the tension of the film. It could also make it more upbeat and therefore draw the audience’s attention by making it more exiting and dramatic. You can also hear the sound of the video camera working in the background which shows there is an amateur film taking place. The sound of an alarm clock also happens in the scene which is abrupt and adds to the scene.
For the mise-en-scene in American Beauty, I could suggest the girl in the bedroom lying down. This could give the audience the impression that it is an intimate moment between her and the boy. We also get a very dark, depressing idea of the scene because of the dull lighting and clothing. The clothing and pale skin makes the girl look very gothic looking which adds to the depressing mood we get. The title of the film is shown in red writing on a plain black background. The connotation of the red gives the audience the impression of passion or danger which could give a negative view on what’s going to happen later on in the film. We also see that it is set in an American neighbourhood with widely spread houses. This could show it is a suburban area which infers that it is a reasonably wealthy neighbourhood.

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