American Beauty

Yesterday, I watched the movie American Beauty.   What do you make of the notion beauty can inspire us to redeem our lives?

5 thoughts on “American Beauty”

  1. I have only seen the movie once, but I identified strongly with the main character. I’m not sure beauty was the main thing he was looking for – maybe it was clarity. It seemed he really wanted one moment of absolute clarity. Which he achieved, and was fortunate enough to die in the middle of it.


  2. It’s been a while since I saw AB, but my recollection is that a primary theme was finding the truth and beauty beneath the dross and dreck of daily life, and the sacrifices this requires. All the main characters were doing some variation of this.

    It’s interesting to me how the movie was, at first, accepted on these terms, but soon enough came to be dismissed as “over-earnest.” By now, the “cool kids” mark themselves by despising AB’s pretensions. I think it was a victim of its own success: once it left the “indy” ranks and received “mainstream” acclaim, it was doomed in certain quarters.

    I think these criticisms are wrong. I think it’s a great film — not perfect, but great — and I think it will be seen as such once the haze of the moment passes away. I wish more filmmakers, artists, & writers would go ahead and try to say something and accept the risk of taking it too far, rather than saying nothing, or pretending there’s nothing to be said, or aiming to be obscurantist, or otherwise indulging in the more-world-weary-than-thou chic.

    If nothing else, if we don’t make earnest statements today, what will future generations satirize? 😉

    I’m not sure beauty can redeem our lives, but I think it’s worth a try. Finding and cultivating excellence in at least one or two threads of one’s life sounds like a noble and worthwhile thing to strive for.


  3. I personally believe that the power of ‘beauty cannot be overestimated. As in the famous quote about art ,I may not be able to define beauty, but I know it when I see it. Whether it is the power to inform, educate, or inspire a life change, I believe beauty has a potential that cannot be limited by our imagination. Like Justice Potter Stewart said of pornography… “I may not be able to define it exactly, but I know it when I see it.” Likewise who can define ‘beauty’??? And if it cannot be defined, how can the limits of it’s influence be claimed?


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