Analysis of Mise-En-Scene in the Film 'American Beauty' Essay

1088 Words Nov 29th, 2012 5 Pages
How does mise-en-scene create meaning and provoke response in the opening of American Beauty?

The opening scene of American Beauty shows a teenage girl lying in a bed, venting her feelings towards her father. In this, the audience sees her in dull clothing and colours, minimal make-up and has greasy-looking hair. As she sits up, her hair falls around her face and she stares directly into the camera, giving a sense of unease to the audience.
The next shot is an establishing shot, showing the street where the main character, Leister, lives. Its fall/autumn time and the trees are bare or dying, possibly indicating and foreshadowing a death later on in the movie. Also the streets are very linear, all vertical and in uniform, as it were.
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Janey wears a jumper with roses embellished across the top half, with stripes down the arms, it is a very ‘busy’ jumper and again her sleeves represents a similar linear lifestyle to that of the rest of the house. The camera then moves to a point of view shot so the audience can see what she is looking at- as she shuts down a list of some sort, a web page on ‘Breast Augmentation’ is shown for a few seconds, giving the audience enough time to read the title of the page and respond. This is deemed to be something a teenaged girl uncomfortable in her own body would typically look at. Janey then walks over to her mirror and turns to the side and stares at her breast and visually inspects them in disgust. She seems disheartened and is dressed in a pair of beige/khaki trousers which completely contrast to her jumper, making her look ‘frumpy’ and out of place.

The outside of the house is then shown in a long shot as Janey and Leister exit the house to the family car. The house looks bright and contemporary with bright blue shutters, a red door to compliment the roses in the bushes, perfect green lawn and a white picket fence, again representing enclosure, the feeling that Leister is trapped in a cage. The house looks like a family home that wishes to portray friendliness and welcome guests. Also, the family car is much too large for the family; there is too much space inside. This shows how empty the family life is and suggests the

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