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Referat: American Beauty - kinds of families & main characters

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"American Beauty"

First lesson

-In order to handle with the movie "American Beauty” we first worked at the American image of family
- Saw a picture with a family on Thanksgiving:
1) whole family together, also grandparents,
2) smiling faces, idyll, seems as if no argument is possible
- Should write an argument between different family members
- Possible issues: family traditions, politics, behaviour (of the children)

Different kinds of families

1) patchwork family: a family made up of a previously divorced parent who brings children from a previous marriage into a newly created family
2) nuclear family: a family consisting of a mother, father and their children
3) dysfunctional family: a family where the relationships are not normal or working properly
4) traditional family: a family consisting of a mother, father and their biological children
5) contemporary family: a modern family, or one living at the present time
6) harmonious family: a family where the relationships function well, without major tension
7) idyllic family: a family which is very happy and peaceful with no problems or dangers
8) outdated family: a family which is not like most of the contemporary ones
9) extended family: includes all the people in a family, aunts, uncles, grandparents etc.
10) single-parent family/one-parent family: family in which there is only one parent
11) loving family: a family in where the relationships are very stable and marked by love and affection
12) patriarchal family: a family where the father is the dominant and dominating figure
13) middle-class family: a family firmly situated in the middle-class

After clearing our images of family we started analyzing "American Beauty”
--> started with the beginning scene and the character Lester Burnham

Lester Burnham

- 42 years old, brown-haired man
- works at the "Media Monthly Magazine” as a journalist at times in the call center
- he’s upper middle-class
- lives at a suburb with white houses and white garden-fences
- without success in his job
- he’s bored of his life and sees himself as a loser
- thinks that his family hates him

other characters:


- beautiful, friendly
- seems to be very self-assure
- likes Lester, says that "he’s sweet”
- doesn’t want her mother to have an active part in her life
- afraid of being ordinary
- wants to become a model
- seems to be a slut because she talks all the time about sex with men she had


- daughter of Lester and Carolyn
- insecure, quiet, cool
- wants an enlargement of her breasts
-hates her father, thinks that he’s a loser
- later she falls in love with her neighbour


- Lester’s wife
- loves her roses
- only interested in her job as an estate agent
- frustrated because of her family life and of not being successful in her job
- thinks that Lester is a loser because he isn’t as ambitious as herself

Analysis of Lester’s development

Three points we’ve analysed:
1) the "old Lester”
2) His development
3) His death

a) Lester feels as if he were dissatisfied, discontent, under pressure
b) Lester isn’t respected by his family --->he’s a loser
c) Lester is a frustrated man who is suppressed by his family
d) Lester is sedated, passive, ignorant and ignored and he feels self-pity

2) Lester wakes up because he feels that his life was as if he were asleep.
This becomes obvious in both of the dinner scenes

3) In his death he rediscovers beauty and gratitude and his love for his family

Finally we can say that there are two leitmotifs:

1) The roses symbolize the relationship between Lester and Angela and they are a symbol for Carolyn
2) The plastic bag stands for true beauty

Other topics of this movie are perfect family- yes or no, sexuality, pretending
Eine kurze Übersicht uber das, was wir im Zusammenhang mit dem Film "American Beauty" besprochen haben. Enthält kurze Portraits über die Charaktere und eine Übersicht über verschiedene Familienformen. (643 Wörter)
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