Discerning the message of the film American Beauty without best

The following sample essay on Discerning the message of the film American Beauty without best tells about American Dream.

Discerning the message of the film American Beauty without considering its critique of the illusory American Dream is impossible. On the surface, the film appears to be another cliched tale of liberation through nonconformity of cartoonishly written characters. Evidently, this seemingly basic storyline and flawed caricatures, were purposely created by director Sam Mendes to convey the futility of the American Dream and overall meaning of existence.

The existence of something is the fact that its presence in the world is a real thing. However, existence can be broken down into three dependent components: the continuance of being, the act or state of existing, and a specific manifestation. Futility is defined as the total lack of purpose or usefulness. Together, futility and existence contradict one another in that the ideal of futility challenges one’s way of life and the purpose of one’s presence in the world.

In confronting the futile nature of the American Dream, Mendes inevitably invalidates all three components of an individual’s existence.

The constant of something’s existence is the continuance of its being, however once its constant stops, it ceases to exist on all forms. Specifically, the form of a body lasts only on the condition that the matter is constantly changing [and] that the old matter is thrown off and new added (Schopenhauer). For instance, Ricky, the closest character to true existentialism in the film, assures his continuance through transforming supposedly futile and ordinary experiences into something he perceives as beautiful and meaningful.

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He is able to assert a type of freedom and control through observations and a video camera and in turn sustains his well-being(Smith). In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, author Thaddeus Metz explores the meaning of life through a soul-based view.

The theory inquires that meaning in life comes from relating in a certain way to an immortal, spiritual substance that supervenes on one’s body when it is alive and that will forever outlive its death (Metz). However, critics of soul-centered views disprove this theory on the basis that an immortal life, whether spiritual or physical, at any interval in time becomes boring, and renders life as pointless. That is why the continuance of one’s present being does not simply rely on existing; it relies on the element of change and growth. In the film, Lester’s disturbing lust for a teenage girl drives most of his actions. It is not until Angela reveals her inexperience and true character that Lester finally does the right thing and reaches a moment of natural compassion and clear, unclouded perception (Smith). However, once Lester’s enlightenment and period of growth has climaxed, he is killed; thus demonstrating how without accompanying one’s existence with an additional motive, one will cease to exist.

Existence consequently includes the act of existing, a state which is supposedly only centered on the present, but, as illustrated in the film, is driven by the elements of the future: specifically, the plausibility of the American Dream. Schopenhauer examines that because man is a compound of needs that are not easily granted, once the needs are satisfied man will only be left to face boredom: the feeling of emptiness of life. If life had in itself any positive and real value, boredom could not exist; mere existence in itself would supply us with everything, and therefore satisfy us (Schopenhauer). However, boredom does exist and is always thwarted by a new set of needs. That cycle alone is proof that life has no true or genuine value in itself. Satirizing the American Dream, the film conveys man’s perpetual unfulfillment with simply existing. As the boredom and discontent with his mechanical, consumerist lifestyle finally overwhelms him, Lester moves on to a series of new desires and needs(Smith). When individuals come dangerously close to having no needs and are resistant to the illusion,we become conscious of the absolute barrenness and emptiness of existence and intuitively find something else to fixate on(Schopenhauer). Lester’s fixation happens to come in the form of a seventeen-year-old girl. However, after years of intensifying dysfunction and cracks in the white-picket-fence lifestyle of the Burnham residence, Lester’s fixation was just what he needed in order to stimulate his existence.

Driving the film through its detesting of the American Dream, the type of existence where a specific manifestation occurs distracts us from seeing life as futile. The film demonstrates how individuals cannot avoid the occurrences of their desires, and if one does deny the temptations long enough, it will lead to one’s impending demise. Schopenhauer classifies these desires as an innate and ineradicable craving for what is out of the common proves how glad we are to have the natural and tedious course of things interrupted. When it comes to the Burnham household, they embody the facade of the suburban American family; underneath it all, there is this drive for success, the drive for pleasure, and the drive towards a more perfect arrangement of appearances(Smith). Mendes completely juxtaposes the raw desire of the Burnham family with the tragic effects of the repression of desire by Colonel Fitts. Mendes also continues to enforce this motif of desire through the visuals of desire in terms of the red of Lester’s new 1970 Firebird, the Burnhams front door, Carolyn’s roses, and Lester’s rose-petal fantasies(Smith). All of these events are abruptly introduced to to the characters of the film and are what detracts them from facing their own futility.

The futility of society’s ways of life and presence in the world are undeniably confronted by the film, American Beauty, and expose the delusions of American culture. Mendes, Smith, and Schopenhauer all challenge the institutionalized rules of society with individualized thoughts that have the potential to transform the materialistic and deceptive world that is present today. The challenge is what man does when one confronts the fruitlessness of existence.

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Discerning the message of the film American Beauty without best. (2019, Nov 25). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/discerning-the-message-of-the-film-american-beauty-without-best-essay/

Discerning the message of the film American Beauty without best
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