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Script Analysis and Narrative Structure American Beauty a narrative is a chain of events in cause-effect relationship occurring in time and space Typically it begins with one situation a series of changes occurs according to a pattern of cause and effect finally a new situation arises that brings about the end of the narrative Bordwell 90 This is an extension of David Bordwells definition of classical narrative cinema in which he refers to the necessary cause-effect relationships that form a well-rounded screenplay It is a particularly fitting definition in discussing the analysis of Sam Mendes American Beauty a film that uses traditional Hollywood structure while masking the formula it is hidden under Screenplays are written in three acts Act One is the set-up or exposition in which characters are introduced and the premise of the film makes itself clear The opening voice-over and montage quickly introduces the secretly resentful Lester Burnham his wife Carolyn and her disturbing affinity for perfection and Jane the daughter filled with insecurity Lesters wistful remarks suggest disdain for the American dream that landed him in his apathetic nightmare Following this Act One reveals two critical plot points the catalyst and the inciting incident The catalyst is an event that disrupts the balance of the central character by giving him a reason that things must change This occurs when Brad the efficiency expert informs Lester that he needs to save his job This causes Lester to question his validity in life Soon after the inciting incident will cause him to take action The inciting incident changes the protagonists life in a big way Fantasies of a nubile Angela provoke Lester to adolescent ideals and it not only disrupts his own life but also of those around him Inadvertently he creates an abysmal gap between himself and Jane as well as with his wife it also affects the already fragile friendship between Angela and Jane Thus the effects
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