For The Graduate I chose the sequence from where Ben’s father announces him coming out to the pool until the end of the scene where he is at the bottom of the pool. (Chapter 5 [all of it]: 20:53–24:25). In The Graduate the cinematic styles were portrayed in this sequence of the film. Mis-en-scene was represented right away from the scenery or background of the sequence. The background was of Ben’s pool with many family friends around. The pool was used for Ben’s dad’s experiment of the scuba suit. With the people around watching it resembles how his father is attempting to show off through the use of Ben.
The grill, pool, lawn chairs, and plants were used as props to convey the natural sense of a typical backyard scene. This allows the audience to feel as if they are at the pool party with the characters. The scuba gear and the snorkel are used as a costume and instrumental props because when Ben is in the water the snorkel creates bubbles so that it is naturally being used. Within the sequence cinematography played an important role in understanding Ben’s personality. Through Ben’s bodily movement when he was about to get into the pool you can see how embarrassed and ashamed he is that he has to do this for his father.
There is a long, medium, and close-up shot of Ben walking in his costume from the kitchen to the outside. His walk coming closer to the screen was stern and slow. It represents the embarrassment that he is about to feel which shows how he does not like doing what people say, but enjoys making his own decisions. The audience is taken inside Ben’s scuba mask and is used as a close-up as the viewers are to feel as if they are actually in the costume. This close-up also occurs when Ben looks up from the water and his dad pushes his face back into the water.
This is important because it gives us a sense of feel within the costume and it shows how his father is pushing Ben to continue testing out his scuba gear. Ending this sequence is a long shot that shows Ben fading away in the water. You see Ben standing still with no movement resembling his awkwardness and humiliation of listening to his dad. The sound plays a key role in understanding the sequence. This sequence is more focused on listening than watching. When Ben jumps into the water right away the sounds are of Ben swimming and the waves of the water flowing around him.
This gives the audience a sense that they are experiencing the dive with Ben. There is also a sound of Ben breathing through his snorkel. As he breathes there is a sound from the bubbles that are rising to the surface from the snorkel. This is important because it is a steady and slow breathes of Ben showing his relaxation and awkwardness that is going on. While Ben is walking towards the pool there is a silent noise where you can see his parents and others cheering and talking to him, but you cannot hear what they are saying.
This is showing how Ben is shutting them out because he is already annoyed and embarrassed that he has to do his fathers task. The mis-en-scene style was illustrated in this sequence to describe what the purpose of the scuba gear was and that he was celebrating his 21st birthday party. This helped the audience understand what the purpose was for that day. In the cinematography the movement described his personality, which is important to understanding Ben and his feelings towards his family.
The sound played an effective role because it brought the audience into the movie letting them feel as if they were in Ben’s costume. The water effects portrayed his attitude and the purpose of the scuba gear. Through the narrative elements this sequence shows us the character development of Ben and his attitude and personality that changes from one thing to the next. It also shows how his father uses Ben into making him experiment with his work. The thematic elements are seen through the use of Ben’s dad’s power he has of Ben and the people’s reactions of Ben in the scuba gear.
The social element is resembled in this scene because it is of Ben’s 21st birthday party and how there is an interaction between Ben and his family and guests. The narrative and thematic elements connect because Ben’s attitude is shown with a social message when celebrating his birthday with guests. This sequence relates to the film as a whole because we discover Ben’s personality and feelings to things in certain situations. I believe theses elements are reinforced in this film. The style was created in this sequence as an awkward and personal vibe.
Narrative elements helped show his change from being a follower and listening to his father to then doing his own thing in going after his love in the end. Thematic elements are shown through the social aspect of how he interacts with his family and guests on a personal level. It allows the audience to understand his feelings towards different situations. This sequence in The Graduate resembles Ben’s inner self in which it brings out his personality and feelings that the viewers are able to connect with and understand.
American Beauty For American Beauty I chose the sequence from when Ricky’s father approaches Lester working out in his garage until he walks away from the garage in the rain. (Chapter 24: 1:38:35–1:41:55). Throughout this sequence there were many stylistic details portrayed in the story. We can divide these details up by beginning with the mis-en-scene details. In the sequence the scenery in the background was of a garage full of couches, candles, pillows, lamps, posters, and workout equipment. The garage as a whole is used as Lester’s workout room and place to relax and be to himself.
It was also used as a main sequence of the story where Ricky’s father attempts to figure out whether his son and Lester are having sexual interactions with each other. In this sequence scenic realism is being portrayed in that the audience is able to recognize the set and setting as a natural and accurate place of a garage. There are several props in the scene, one specifically and most importantly being Lester’s bench set and free weights. These props symbolize Lester’s fantasy and obsession over Jane’s friend Angela whom he is determined to be with.
Overall this sequence in the garage is used as a breaking point in the movie where you suspect Lester to die as he told in the beginning of the movie. The scene with Ricky’s Dad and Lester is a possible indication that the audience might expect to see Ricky’s Dad have revenge and vengeance on Lester. Another stylistic detail is revealed to the audience through cinematography. The long shot from the inside of the garage looking out the window to Ricky’s Dad walking in the rain symbolizes the confusion and hatred he has towards Lester.
The close up of Lester and Ricky’s dad hugging shows the hatred of Ricky’s dad by squeezing Lester’s back and Lester’s kindness of wanting to help Ricky’s father. The camera angle was of a straight on view showing Lester and Ricky’s facial expressions. Lester’s expression looks as if he is displaying a sign of homosexuality towards Ricky’s father. Lester’s bodily movement is exposed when he puts his hands on Ricky’s father shoulders to comfort him. This plays an important role because Ricky’s dad is misunderstanding each move of kindness from Lester as a sign of gayness.
The last long shot of Ricky’s father walking away from the garage shows his sign of confusion and hatred towards Lester. There was a stylistic detail seen in the editing stage of the sequence. Seen is the reaction shot of Lester when Ricky’s dad kissed him. The reaction shot resembles the answer that Lester gives in showing that he is not gay. This scene brings about the confusion that Ricky’s father has towards the situation. The last stylistic detail is exposed through the use of sound. There is also a natural noise of a garage door opening in the background awaiting the confrontation of Lester and Ricky’s dad.
The music in the background is soothing and mysterious. It gives the audience a mindset that something is about to happen or be revealed. The rain in the background plays an important role because rain in films is usually represented by sadness and a deathly loss of a character. This is resembled by Ricky’s father’s sadness towards the situation with Ricky and it gives a main clue that there will be a death coming. The mis-en-scene style was chosen to describe the setting and mood of what is about to happen later in the film.
The cinematography represents the bodily movements and feelings that portray Lester as being gay. The editing shows the reaction of Lester when Ricky’s dad misinterprets that he is a homosexual. Lastly the sound creates a mystery and heart-thumping picture of what might happen towards the end of the film. The rain gives off the biggest clue in that Lester is about to die. There are many Narrative and Thematic elements that are shared in this sequence of the film. The narrative side of the story deals with Lester and Ricky’s dad’s character developments.
You can see that Lester’s character changes, as he once was depressed and miserable to now in this sequence he is laid back, relaxed, and enjoying life. Ricky’s father is the opposite because he was once a somewhat hearted man towards his son, but now changes in which his heart is against Ricky when he mistakes judgment in the garage that Lester is gay. In the end or of the plot of the story Lester’s death is revealed from the significance of the rain. Thematically the biggest subject deals with the all three, religious, political, and social issues that arise from the gay rights issue.
Ricky’s father doesn’t accept homosexuality and shows that in the film. Both these element connect with each other because the thematic aspect brings out the true character and feelings of Ricky’s dad that results in the plot of the story of Lester dying. As a whole this sequence relates to the film because it controls the movie and shows how the ending becomes so shocking and dramatic. You see one side in which Ricky’s dad kills off Lester because he is gay and you see Lester who finds his true happiness by the end of the film. All the elements are reinforced in the movie.
The style is created as a wicked, creepy, mystery, but exciting ride that goes through the life of many individuals. The narrative is explained from the plot and how the characters are developing throughout the film as you can see through Lester’s findings of happiness and Ricky’s father’s change of heart. Thematically social, political, and religious issues are pushed through the homosexuality question. American Beauty covers all the elements and this sequence I believe is the most important scene as it predicts the end of the film.