American Beauty

| May 20, 2015


Unit 5: Film Lab
Film Lab Instructions
We will be watching American Beauty in class.

Briefly analyze two important/powerful/favorite scenes in the film. Please specifically reference the readings in at least one of your scene selections.

Scene 1 (350+ words)

Please begin by very briefly describing the scene (a sentence or two) and roughly where it occurs in the film (first half hour, etc.). Here are some things you might want to explore, though as always, feel free to go in your own direction:

• How does this scene connect with the film’s overarching themes?
• What about this scene particularly spoke to you?
• Technical aspects (camera angles, editing, sound track, performances, etc.)
• Artistry or lack thereof
• And again, please remember to reference the readings in at least one of your scene selections—thanks

Scene 2 (350+ words)

The same as above . . .

Your analysis should combine information gained from the readings with your own thoughts and insights. Please quote (and then underline) one of the articles in your analysis

After finish the two articles, please do the multiple choice below:
1. Brittaney Deschler interprets the title, American Beauty, to mean (choose all that apply):

A. it is the search for beauty.
B. beauty can only be found in symbolic meaning.
C. beauty of the American dream is an illusion.
D. things that appear to be beautiful in America often are not.
2. The author notes that in the end, Lester realizes that:

A. freedom triumphs above all else.
B. taking advantage of freedom doesn’t mean abandoning one’s responsibilities.
C. freedom is frightening and lonely.
D. the only thing to hold back freedom is oneself.
3.According to Brittany Deschler, examples of successful connections in the film are (choose all that apply):
A. Jane and Ricky
B. Jim and Jim
C. Colonel Fitts and Lester
D. Lester and Angela
E. Carolyn and Buddy King
4. The author writes that Mendes seems to choose sex as a metaphor because of:

A. its controversial nature.
B. its power to titillate audiences.
C. its associations with America.
D. its associations with modernity.
5. Brittany Deschler claims that each character is an agent of one or more themes, including (choose all that apply):

A. materialism
B. the American dream
C. freedom
D. loneliness vs feeling connected
E. subjective and objective beauty
F. identity
G. appearance vs reality
6.According to the author, Carolyn represents the belief that:

A. she is happy if others think she is happy.
B. happiness can only be obtained by returning to a juvenile state.
C. confidence and success can never truly mask despair.
D. once one has lost one’s happiness, one can only display misery for all to see.
7.The author believes that many of the characters problems stem from:
A. their distortion of the American dream.
B. their failure to develop or maintain a coherent identity.
C. their pursuit of freedom above all else.
D. their pursuit of happiness as the only thing worth living for.
8.The Art Culture Film website describes the Burnhams as:

A. the typical American family, complete with white picket fence.
B. trapped by the ideology of the American Dream.
C. the ultimate achievement of American material culture.
D. a beautiful shell masking a corrupt interior.
9. The author feels that American Beauty forces viewers:

A. to consider whether there is anything worth saving at the root of American culture.
B. to compare traditional roles, such as cheerleader, with more progressive ones, such as the homosexuals.
C. see the decay found in all levels of American society.
D. to discover a more natural beauty, such as that found in the American Beauty rose.
10. According to the author, the film endorses the pursuit of happiness as:

A. the activity of the selfish.
B. easily obtainable, if one can only give up the material world.
C. an empty shell covering a miserable life.
D. the only thing worth living for.



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