260mc: Show Don’t Tell: American Beauty


One of the opening scenes in American Beauty tells us all we need to know about the Burnham family using only visual cues (framing?). The seating positions each family member chooses as they get into their car to head to work/school perfectly illustrates the family’s dynamic. The daughter takes the front passenger seat, the mum has the driving seat (both physically and metaphorically in their relationship) and the father is, literally, relegated to the back seat. The last seat, the inferior seat. He is viewed as beneath his wife and daughter and we learn all of this from one very short sequence. But incase we missed this scene’s subtly it is later reaffirmed through Carolyn and Jane’s treatment of Lester as the film’s narrative unfolds.


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