DOWSE guide to the movies                                                                                         

___ dowse.com ___
the net guide for creative minds


  Book Review


DOWSE Guide to the Movies
by Tony Lee editor of Pigasus Press

American Beauty

screenplay
Alan Ball
FilmFour Books, 153 pages paperback 7.99
review by Cari Crook

Having found the film American Beauty unsettling, to say the least, I tiptoed warily round this book for several days lest it jump up, bite me and infect me with another severe dose of existential angst. But a girl must do what a girl must do and I eventually wrestled it to the sofa with a coffee, an emergency bag of doughnuts and got on with it. I'm glad I did.
  The screenplay was much as it was on the screen but there were a few subtle differences which were fun to spot, if sometimes difficult to fathom. Why exactly, for example, did we have to have Kevin Spacey fully clothed in an armchair on the screen when we could have had him in his underwear on the sofa? Just asking. As Sam Mendes and Alan Ball explain in their foreword and afterword respectively, although this version of the screenplay is close to what we see on the screen changes were made during rehearsals with the collaboration and input of the actors as well as the director and screenwriter. The creative process seemed to be, at least in part, a communal effort that carried on until the last minute. Apparently whole scenes were shot and then excised and new ones created. Sam Mendes is quoted as saying, "It's like the movie is letting us know what it wants to be."
  In fact, the script apparently underwent some dramatic changes during the pre-production period. The original framework involved Jane and Ricky being tried and convicted of the murder of Lester. Sam Mendes found this a "mite cynical", while Alan Ball admitted that what "started out as a satire of middle-class American values... eventually revealed itself to be something entirely different." Interesting, though, how hard it is to really let go of a concept. Two or three reviews I read of the film claimed its only weakness is the 'who killed Lester Burnham' framework. Something I found a bit distracting, I must admit.
  In the end though, as interesting as it was, it wasn't the story of the script's development that made this worth reading for me, it was the script itself. Without doubt the writing is just wonderful, the characterisation complex and utterly convincing. It was possible to see, in the written word, connections and nuances I entirely missed in one fraught viewing of the film and to appreciate just how cleverly the whole was put together. Where I'd left the film not wanting to think about it at all if I could help it, I've not stopped thinking about it since reading the script.
  It still made me cry at the end though. But having been carried away by the script I no longer think this is such a bad thing.

Cari Crook

Back to Movies on Dowse index.


........................................................................
Back to    main page

Antiques
Archaeology
Architecture
Art
Autos
Books
Computing & Internet
Cryptozoology

Dowsing

Dreams
Education
Entertainment
Fantasy art
Fiction
Free Stuff

Games
Gardening
Geography
Geology
History
Landscapes
Movies
Music
Mysteries
Myths & Legends
Paranormal
People
Philosophy
Poetry
Religions/Beliefs
Science Fiction
Sciences
Security online
Shamans
Theatre
Travel
TV
Urban Legends
Webmasters tools
Writing & Publishing
................................
dowse your start page

Search the web
Get your free email


Copyright © 2000 dowse.com
all rights reserved

*