Talk:American Beauty (1999 film)

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American Beauty (1999 film) is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on March 26, 2010.
March 8, 2010Featured article candidatePromoted

References to useEdit

Please add to the list references that can be used for the film article.
  • Johnston, Robert K. (2006). "Beyond Futility: American Beauty and the Book of Ecclesiastes". In Griesinger, Emily; Eaton, Mark (eds.). The Gift of Story: Narrating Hope in a Postmodern World. Baylor University Press. pp. 85–96. ISBN 1932792473.
  • King, Mike (2008). "American Beauty". The American Cinema of Excess: Extremes of the National Mind on Film. McFarland. pp. 94–98. ISBN 0786439882.
  • Laytham, Brent D. (2006). "Time for Hope: The Sixth Sense, American Beauty, Memento, and Twelve Monkeys". In Griesinger, Emily; Eaton, Mark (eds.). The Gift of Story: Narrating Hope in a Postmodern World. Baylor University Press. pp. 69–84. ISBN 1932792473.

Reads like a film studies student essayEdit

The whole article gives me the distinct impression that American Beauty is somehow a favourite of film studies class and that all the students have come here to contribute enthusiastically to the article. I applaud that enthusiasm, but it reads rather unencyclopedicly, for example, in the lead paragraphs:

“Mendes' dominant style was deliberate and composed; he made extensive use of static shots and slow pans and zooms to generate tension. Cinematographer Conrad Hall complemented Mendes' style with peaceful shot compositions to contrast with the turbulent on-screen events. During editing, Mendes made several changes that gave the film a less cynical tone.”

It sounds like Patrick_Bateman talking about the discography of Phil Collins in American Psycho. The rest of the article is similarly insider-phrased and TMI-ish. I wouldn't say pretentious, but less forgiving readers would say so. At any rate, while I enjoy reading the geeky filmic language and opinions (and these are opinions -- there are few citations here), probably the article could be trimmed substantially, and the Analysis section moved to another article.

That said, I have no clout on Wikipedia nor the time/inclination to argue and go back and forth with WP regulars about the pros and cons of cleaning up the article. It seems obvious to me, as an outsider to film studies. But I thought I'd add my 2 cents. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Chrisdone (talkcontribs) 00:43, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

It is pretentious. It's absurd. That huge student essay section about the themes, right after the plot section, is unique to this page. Citizen Kane doesn't have it, doesn't have it. I can't believe is still there. Wikipedia is not a film magazine. Kumagoro-42 22:36, 6 November 2015 (UTC)
A Featured Article article is supposed to be a "thorough and representative" summary of all the relevant writing on its subject. That means we look at what the more academic writing has come up with too; if it ignores these sources, the article can't be said to have met that standard. So if our summary of the academic writing reads pretentiously, blame Hausmann et al. :-)
As for the other film articles you cite: in the case of Citizen Kane, the small 'Themes' section would hold it back from promotion to 'Featured' from its current 'Good' classification (though in that film's case, such a section almost certainly would be so big as to need to be spun out in its own article). Similarly, Rashomon is 'C' class and still manages a few paragraphs on style and symbolism. Imagine what a representative summary of the academic literature of either of those films would entail.
Neither is a good example for comparison then. Consider instead the Featured Articles Mulholland Drive (which also interweaves the academic analysis expertly through a couple of the more traditional 'production info' sections), Fight Club (which has a 'Themes' section right at the start—and admittedly an 'Interpretations' section deemed more appropriate as a spin-off), Tenebrae (a more marginal film work that still prompted significant analysis), or the more recently-promoted Conan the Barbarian, among many others.
A themes/analysis section is then standard practice for film articles that strive to meet the comprehensiveness criteria; you'd struggle to find many promoted to FA in the last five years that don't include one. And why not? Why should our best film articles not strive for the same coverage as that which is taken for granted in our best articles on works of literature? Because we're in danger of running out of space?
As far as the placement of the section in the article is concerned, there's no hard rule that says one way or the other. In some cases, it's just down to the personal preference of the article's main contributors. Some of those articles I cite above have it at the start, some later on. In the case of American Beauty, IIRC the reasoning was twofold: it felt more natural to place interpretation of the events of the film directly after our description of the events of the film; in addition, the production sections discuss choices and techniques that are given context by some of the established thematic intentions of the filmmakers.
Finally, to address a secondary point raised by Chrisdone: lead sections don't ordinarily contain citations (unless there are points of contention) as they're intended as a summary of the rest of the article, which of course should be fully-cited (and I hope we can all at least agree that this thing is definitely not lacking in citations—there shouldn't be even one claim here that doesn't have an appropriate reference). Steve T • C 22:12, 9 November 2015 (UTC)
You may applaud and pat yourself on the back for this "thorough and representative summary", but the use of the term "summary" is entirely misused, and this article is a piece of garbage because of whoever added all that nonsense in the middle. I came here specifically after reading the article because the article is appallingly long and has way too much conjecture about meaning and sub-themes. They do NOT belong there. It isn't a matter of "running out of room", it is a matter of presenting a product to the reader that makes sense, has plenty of info, while not being long winded. This article doesn't make a lot of sense because of all the conjecture, and as such it is entirely too long winded. The entire middle portion of the article, which makes up a good half the page, should be cut out and removed. (talk) 05:03, 5 March 2018 (UTC)

I would agree there is too much exposition on the reasons, and arguments for the thematic conclusions of the authors cited. Section could be shortened significantly without losing much. Shortening the section would make room for other themes that other authors have mentioned. One theme that comes to mind that is missing from the article is the theme of empathy, and the lack/repression thereof. A simple example would be the scene where the boy empathically reflects the happiness on the dead man's face. All the characters reflect aspects of the themes of empathy, repression, narcissism, and projection. The representation of suburban bleakness presented in a cliched way as a familiar touchstone for the audience to recognize, and dismiss so as to see deeper. The repressed homosexual father who projects his own homosexuality, and brutal self loathing on others. His son, his gay neighbors, who should be as ashamed of themselves as he is, and Lester. The ambitious wife who when faced with real responsibility rejects it because she's deeply an irresponsible child. The "slutty cheerleader" who is in reality a virgin. The "good kids" who are so empathic they have to flee the pain around them. Lester finds his own empathy too late. That would be how the much longer articles on empathy, and the other themes could be summarized. Cut out the arguments for the thematic conclusions, and simply give brief illustrative examples from the movie to express the points of the cited articles. (talk) 15:15, 19 May 2020 (UTC)

Amount of BlackmailEdit

The Summary says "Lester is told he is to be laid off, but instead blackmails his boss, Brad, for $60,000 and quits his job." However, I couldn't find anything about the exact dollar amount. Lester says "That's $50,000. That's someone's salary.", but that doesn't necessarily say how much he makes. In the blackmailing scene, he says he wants one year's salary plus benefits. I think changing the sentence to match that is more accurate. "Lester is told he is being laid off, but instead blackmails his boss, Brad, for one year's salary plus benefits." — Jncobbs (talk) 20:31, 16 October 2018 (UTC)

I agree with you. If no specific number is mentioned, we can't offer one. Your wording makes sense. ---The Old JacobiteThe '45 01:02, 17 October 2018 (UTC)

Just saw the movie. Lester tells his wife he blackmailed his boss for $60,000. (talk) 15:21, 19 May 2020 (UTC)

Cast sectionEdit

While I think this is a good article on the film, would it not be a good idea to actually have a section on who plays who and a short blurb on each character?

It must be the first film article I have seen without it.

It all just seems "messages" and "meanings" and "themes"

If no one disagrees I will do it in a week or so.

--TheMightyAllBlacks (talk) 01:40, 28 July 2019 (UTC)

Hi, TheMightyAllBlacks. I don't know how it looks on the device you're using, but the Plot section has a boxout that lists the main actors and their roles. This is fairly conspicuous on the desktop I'm using. Then, in the Production sections later in the article, there's more of an in-depth Casting subsection. This, combined with the Plot section and cast boxout to my mind would make a separate Cast section redundant. Steve T • C 20:48, 28 July 2019 (UTC)
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