American Beauty: a spiritual film

American Beauty (1999)

American Beauty offers the closest experience of a spiritual film expressing the feel of cosmic consciousness — the haunting plastic bag sequence and the accompanying dialogue by Ricky:

Ricky: It was one of those days when it’s a minute away from snowing. And there’s this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it, right? And this bag was just… dancing with me. Like a little kid beggin me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. That’s the day I realized there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid ever.
Video’s a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember… I need to remember. Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t take it… and my heart is going to cave in.

Other good quotes:

Ricky: I did see a homeless woman who froze to death once. Just laying there on the sidewalk. She looked really sad. I got that homeless woman on video.
Jane: Why would you do that?
Ricky: Because it was amazing.
Jane: What was amazing about it?
Ricky: When you see something like that, it’s like God is looking right at you, just for a second. And if you’re careful, you can look right back.

Lester: I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me… but it’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world. 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.

Click here for an interesting interview of the American Beauty screenwriter Alan Ball, in which he discusses the inspiration for the “plastic bag scene.”

One thought on “American Beauty: a spiritual film”

  1. Great comment!

    I also saw American Beauty some years ago when it came out on DVD and I was instantly captivated by that scene you describe above.

    Maybe that is something we can learn: To choose to see the beauty in life but not to crave it too much.

    Being open to the moment.

    This article was very inspiring to read!

    If you feel like it take a look at my homepage “Continuation” where I present writings about film and more.


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