Essay: Post World War I

After World War I, there were a lot of celebration in welcoming the American boys whom were coming back home. Many technological improvement as well as many discoveries in science lead to an economic bloom. Many people took advantage of this, and this surely sent America into the great depression. Following the 1920 and the late 30s, the era of the great depression there was a tremendous increase in unemployment rate, and among one of its drastic effect was that on the lives of the American families.
Most families often like to have a sense of order, and certainty in their lives. They like to anticipate and plan for the future. Film directors Frank Capra and Sam Mendes depicts the possibilities of chaos happening if an event had just been different or the need to find freedom and the meaning in life. What will it be like to live a different life? To walk on this Earth knowing our lives and decisions could adversely affect other people? Or the need to find freedom and the meaning in life. These are the question these director poses in their films It’s a wonderful life and American beauty.
The 1946 American drama it’s a wonderful life directed by Frank Capra and the 1999 drama American Beauty directed by Sam Mendes in their own way both address the issue of chaos and order. Both films will be examined according to its unique portrayal of chaos in a family.
At this moment, the immediate living condition of some families can be categorize as chaotic, and chaos can be attributed to the lack of communication in some households as portrayed by Mendes in his film American Beauty. American Beauty’s approach to ‘beauty’ is related to the society’s image of ‘Beauty’. American Beauty pulls us into the extremely unhappy life of Lester. Lester is your typical average man living the American dream; he has a family, a nice house, an ok Job. But beyond that fake pretense and front, he is actually experiencing a amid life crisis. He continues his marriage to his wife Carolyn for the sake of their daughter, a daughter he barely knows. He tries to project Normalcy to others, because the image we portray to society is influenced by postmodern culture. ”That’s my wife Carolyn. See the way the handle on those pruning shears match her gardening clogs? That’s not an accident” Lester about his wife Carolyn. Carolyn’s job and marriage are connected to her image. If she can successfully make her marriage and job look good people will buy her image. ”In order to be successful, one must project an image of success at all times” just like Carolyn, Buddy Kane the real estate broker also shares the same views. But beneath the fa??ade and image she portrays to the outside world, Carolyn just like her husband is also experiencing a mid-life crisis. She rediscovers herself with Real estate Broker Buddy Kane.
Like many lost souls, Lester had realized just before he was murdered that his life was more valuable than he had thought. But it’s too late for him. Even after his death Lester to talk blissfully continues to talk about his life, and how every moment he lived was beautiful and valuable.
”Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life… You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry… you will someday” (Lester Burnham American Beauty 1999)
Jane their daughter who thinks her parents are embarrassing and completely psychotic finds comfort in the arms of the weird next door neighbour Ricky Fitts, whose rough relationship with his father has changed his outlook on life to recognize beauty in the most unique forms. The film American Beauty shows us that there is far more possibilities for chaos in our lives that we ever imagined. We find haven in our daily routine, what we are used to and as time goes on, the idea of change is inevitable. Change becomes scary. This film also touches on issues like Homosexuality, dysfunction, stalking, and adultery that occurs in our society today. The idea that Beauty is a myth.
Human lives maybe very chaotic and complex, this provides the opportunity to exploit the butterfly effect. The butterfly effect tells us that any changes matter in the grand scheme of things. Slight change in decisions makes a big difference in the future. This is what film director Frank Capra tries to show the audience in his 1946 American drama it’s a wonderful life. Its Christmas period in Bedford, but this was no merry Christmas, there was feeling of tension in the air. The Great depression was still in effect. The great depression was a turning point for many people, chaos was mostly common during that time. No stability
In the 1946 Hollywood Christmas film, it’s a wonderful life Capra’s character George Bailey is depressed and suicidal. He experiences an event of what it would have been like if he never had existed. His small town becomes Potterville named after Mr. Potter. George then realized that his job as banker is crucial to this town in maintaining the town’s spirit and also the welfare of his neighbour and friends. This was all in the aftermath of the great depression, the economic was still in a meltdown. There was panic and chaos spreading in the country, people were scared, and they wanted to take their money and savings out of the bank. This is exactly what Capra portrays in his film, the chaos that occurred. He longs for his homeland and identity, in a way this film reinforces the idea of Heimat (Homeland). He returns form his nightmare, renewed as the guy who holds the community together and end the period of Potterville. It’s a wonderful life promotes and reinforces the collective strength, through support of social structures, families, community.

Source: Essay UK -

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