A Look at the Heart of American Beauty
Sam Mendes' darkly comic portrayal of suburbia in his first movie, American Beauty (1999) takes a hard look at what happens when you've accomplished the American Dream only to realize that it isn't enough. Lester, the film's anti-hero wakes up one morning deep in a mid life crisis and decides that he wants something more then the life he has carved out for himself and proceeds to search for that something and in the process, disrupts the lives of those around him, particularly his wife Caroline. Through his use of color and surrealist elements Mendes shows how passionless and unhappy Caroline and Lester are in their seemingly perfect world and how true happiness lies not in doing what's expected or in material goods but in finding the beauty in being true to yourself.
The color red and roses are a symbol of passion and desire and Mendes uses the combination to symbolize the lack of passion and in turn the misplaced desires in the character's lives. Caroline, Lester's wife is a woman who on the outside seems to have it all: a family, a big house, and a great career. But we soon find out that nothing in Caroline's world is perfect except for the red roses she takes great pride and care in growing.
These roses can be found everywhere: lining the yard, on end tables, the center piece on the dining room table and even in the home she's trying to sell. The roses represent the passion that Caroline has lost for life but can't admit she no longer has. She is a deeply unhappy woman who tries to mask that unhappiness by projecting forth an image of perfection. She believes that if she thinks positive then everything will be okay. She listens to and recites daily affirmations to herself to keep up her positive mental state. The truth of the matter is that she is in a loveless marriage, is estranged form her child and is in a career she hates.
She envies and later desires the success (and attention) of her rival, the "Real Estate King" whose image is portrayed by big red signs placed in the yards of the homes he is selling. She learns form him that "In order to be successful one must project the image of success at all times." Caroline's roses are the embodiment of that idea since they are the only thing in her life that she is succeeding at and are as perfect as she pretends the rest of her life to be.
Lester realizes that his wife's roses are representative of the lack of desire she has for him and their life together. So, it isn't a surprise that his own misplaced desires are represented by the very flowers that he loathes because they get all the affection and attention he does not. As Lester begins to find his way first by standing up to his wife and then by quitting his job he begins an unhealthy fantasy for his daughter's teenage friend, Angela.
These fantasies are very surrealist in nature and are some of the most beautiful and disturbing scenes in the movie. Each of these breaks in reality feature Angela intimately involved with the roses: they are coming out of her blouse or she is only covered in roses or she is immersed in bath that is filled with rose petals. Lester uses this fantasy as the only hope he has in his otherwise miserable life. His desire for Angela spurs him to make life changes that he believes will allow her to desire him and ultimately make him happy. Lester eventually learns that this fantasy isn't they way to his happiness, yet using Caroline's roses as a part of the lust he has for someone else turns the flower that's representative of his misery to one of power and hope for Lester.
Mendes continues to play with the theme of color in Caroline's life as a means of showing her unhappiness in the way that she dresses. She is the only one of the main characters that is brightly dressed. Most everyone else in the film can be found in muted colors: earth tones, grays and blacks but Caroline can always be found in color. Under her earth tone suit she has on a bright red slip. Her nightgown that she wears to bed is a light blue.
Later in the film in a very comic moment at a drive thru at a fast food restaurant she can be found in a red suit. Her desire to convince the world and herself that she is happy isn't just saying or telling people she is happy but dressing happy as well. This obsession for projecting perfection even through her dress makes for poignant moments in the movie as reality breaks through a happy veneer.
Caroline cries as she isn't able to sell the house though she has on her red slip and her roses on the table. She loses out on a moment of closeness with her husband because of her attachment to material goods as she looks perfect in her blue dress and high heels. Her attempt at finding happiness is abruptly lost as she's caught in a compromising situation in her sexy red suit.
Throughout the movie Caroline misses the fact that she isn't going to find happiness in all of her stuff or on how pretty the image she projects seems to be but only taking an honest look at herself and her life will bring her the happiness she finds so elusive. Her brightly colored garb makes her stand out in the movie but also makes her unhappiness more obvious.
Lester also tries to find happiness in colorful material objects. He turns in his boring Camry for a fire red 1970 Pontiac firebird a car he's desired since he was a kid. He purchases and plays with a red remote control car, yet unlike his wife his use of material goods is a stepping-stone in trying to figure out what will make him happy, not as a way to cover up his unhappiness. As the movie progresses Lester finds searching for happiness out side of himself is pointless, that it starts from within. In the end it isn't a brightly colored car or fantasies of a young girl that make him happy but black and white memories of his childhood, of his daughter of the early years with his wife that give him peace and happiness.
Mendes makes us question how we define happiness and success as he explores the inner-lives of a marriage that on the outside seem like they have it all, that they are living the American Dream.
Tamika Johnson is a freelance writer and owner of PrologueReviews.com. To read more reviews by Tamika or to have your book, music or film reviewed visit http://www.prologuereviews.com
Astrologers Just Plain Stupid?
We live at an interesting time of scientific knowledge. Scientists say that you cannot gain an advantage over the Casino, since the odds are stacked against you. Scientists also say that Astrology does not seem feasible, since it does not fit in with known scientific laws. However, it is estimated that approximately 100 million people in the world either follow Astrology or see that there is some truth in it.
Hip-hop Jewelry and Todays Stars
Watch any of the major movie, television, and music award shows on television today and one of the first things you'll notice about the celebrities on the red carpet, aside from their extravagant (and sometimes outlandish) attire, are the amount and size of the jewelry they are wearing. Hip-hop jewelry, more commonly known as bling-bling, is definitely not understated fashion. The bigger and the flashier it is, the better. Preferred by many of today's celebrities, hip-hop jewelry adorns the fingers, necks, arms, even the teeth of many stars.
Feng Shui North versus South Hemisphere
The North South Hemisphere Question:
What Sets Chinese Painting Apart From Western Painting
Because of different instruments, materials and cultural background, Chinese paintings have their own image and content in comparison to other types of paintings. Unique appearance of Chinese Painting owes much to the use of the Chinese writing brush and the Chinese paper (rice and silk). There are four essential elements used in the creation of Chinese Painting, the brush, ink, paper, and the ink stone. Lacking any of them the job cannot be done.
Chinese Zodiac Signs
Each Chinese New Year begins on the day of first new moon. In the western year 2005, the new moon began on February 9. It was the Chinese year 4702. In actuality, most Chinese began using the western, or solar, calendar in the early twentieth century, except on important holidays. Many of the calendars in China show both the solar dates of the western calendar and the lunar dates of the Chinese calendar. Chinese astrology is based on the twelve cycles of the moon.The Chinese zodiac consists of twelve animals, rather than the solar signs used in the west. In the Chinese calendar each period lasts for a full cycle of the moon, from new to full. There are twelve complete lunar cycles in a Chinese zodiac year, but one animal symbolizes the entire year. According to their calendar, the Chinese complete a cycle every twelve years. So if you were born in the year of the rat, you would celebrate your zodiac birthday every twelve years, and your Chinese zodiac sign would be the rat. In the west your astrological sign appears once each year.The calendar and its animals were created from an ancient legend. It tells us that the animals were all fighting about who was going to be in the prime (first) position on the Chinese calendar. The gods devised a test in which the animals would compete for their position by swimming across a river. Another version says that the Buddha requested visits by the animals before he left earth. He named the moon cycles after the animals in order of appearance. So the Chinese zodiac symbol is a circle divided into twelve equal sections; think of it as if you were marking off slices of a pie. There is a picture of the animal representing that Chinese zodiac sign in each section. The calendar's use dates clear back to 2600 BC.The animals used in Chinese astrology are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep (goat), monkey, rooster, dog, and boar (pig). Persons born during their cycle are said to take on their animal traits:Rat- Perfectionist, charming, aggressive, secretive, party-loving, quick-witted, stubborn, good at politics and business, can be meanOx- Quiet, quick to anger, excellent memories, hard-working, family loyalty, creative, skilful hands, responsible, self-confidentTiger- Leaders, courageous, territorial, possessive, fighters, generous and selfish, magnetic, passionate, works solo, dynamicRabbit- Sweet-natured, conservative, artistic, tasteful, sentimental, emotional, shy, faithful to partners, romantic, avoid fightingDragon- Regal, leader, centre of attention, powerful, lucky, aggressive, dynamic, big ego, snobbish, tyrannicalSnake- Charming, popular, lies easily, possessive, hates rejection, deep thinker, well-mannered, lazy, romantic, insecureHorse- Crowd lover, rebellious, energetic, selfish, self-centered, good with money, cunning, lacks self-confidenceSheep or goat- Artistic, creative, lazy, disorganized, charming, well-mannered, dreamy, pessimistic, romantic, worrier, not good in businessMonkey- Charming, witty, clever, emotional, unscrupulous, love food but not gluttons, deceptive, funny, luckyRooster- Straight-forward, honest, flashy dresser, loyal, honest, dreamer, psychic, busy, loves a bargain, observersDog- Traditional, loyal, sincere, intelligent, private, judgmental, serious, anxious, likes solitude, champions causesPig or boar- Loving, caring, chivalrous, sincere, honourable, easy to take advantage of, belief in goodness, love food, romantic, jealous
Sterling Silver Jewelry - The Rest Of The Story
Silver is widely diffused but is rarely found in the native state.
Egyptian Hanmde Galabeya (Galabia)
The Bedouin culture has a long history of beautiful costumes, textiles and Jewelry. The Bedouin costume has not changed in a thousand years, and the Bedouins today dresse in every particular as they did in the tenth century.
Her Last Day in Court
"Ron, I can't take much more of his sleazy behavior! I really don't think you are going to win this case for me anyway. I've lost everything; at least I can have the pleasure of making sure the jury knows their judge is another sexual power tripper, going in to his chambers to satisfy himself with the bailiff while he screws me over under the law! I don't..."
I, Ego, and Power
I: - A vowel that didn't appear in sacerdotal alphabets for which there is little, or should I say not one IOTA of, reason to hold up for personal glorification. The ego is man's greatest hindrance and his competitiveness possesses him like the demons he has created in his IGNORANCE!
Better Red than Dead!
Red, perhaps the first color our eyes perceive.
Learn Chinese Language Tips and Techniques
There's no doubt learning any foreign language requires effort, time and commitment. This holds true even more, especially when there's a big difference between one's native tongue and learning a new language.
Murder Solved From The Grave
I am very interested in reading about ghostly stories and spirits etc. A couple of years ago I heard about a story which is apparently true, about a murder which was solved from the grave.
Humans are not special, hate to break it to you
I hate to break it to you, but humans are not all that special really. I laugh at the self importance humans place on this species as if some how they are better, more evolved or the divine work and special project of a God. There is actually not a single piece of evidence for that. We see the same general characteristics we see in humans in house pets, primates, birds and even fish. Yes, indeed we have a larger brain and the point is? Few humans bother to use its potential. Now that I have offended every human on the planet, let me recommend a book to you:
Mythology and Parables in Modern Communication - Part 1
Today there is a growing need to examine all our systems of thought and communication. We are witness to an information explosion. Never before has there been such a plethora of relevant and not so relevant information available on every subject imaginable. Most of us cannot even begin to fathom the depths of this apparent inexhaustible supply.
The Saga of Puffed Wheat Anderson, A Minnesota Legend
I have no idea how old I was when I first learned about the famed Minnesota scientist and inventor Alex P. Anderson, AKA Puffed Wheat Anderson. My Dad told me about him when I was eating a bowl of cereal, you know, the one that's shot from guns. Or doesn't Quaker use that line any more? They sure did when I was growing up. I'd hear it a dozen times in a half hour when I used to listen to Sgt. Preston of the Mounties as a six-years-old. I naturally wondered if he was a relative. He wasn't, but I couldn't imagine how shooting rice or wheat out of a cannon could make them puff up.
CHRETIEN DE TROYES:
How To Get Rich and Die Quick!
It is funny how web site promotion can suddently plunge you into literary exploits...
Civil War Uniform Shirts ? When to Use a One and Two Piece Body!
So, you want to make your own Civil War shirt.You have so many decisions to make - one or two-piece body, type of front, buttons, material, colors, collars! Wow.
OM to Ogham
Plato observed that the advent of an alphabet making writing efficient for average people actually lead to less knowledge or disciplined communication. We need not blame the Phoenicians for this because people really could benefit from writing.
Garnet is Januarys Birthstone
If you're still young enough to remember your birthday, you probably also remember the special birthstone assigned to it. But at your age, we bet you don't really know the SIGNIFICANCE of your birthstone and what power the ancients felt would be bestowed about you by wearing it.
|© Athifea Distribution LLC - 2013|