-[NEW]- Guy: American Beauty clearly refers to the girl, but it's also the type of rose his wife is cultivating at the start of the movie. So it's both her facade of perfect suburban life and his motivation for change.
These 2 elements are jusxtaposed in Lester's dreams and on the movie poster.

Another thing you might like to know(sorry - only just read your A-B blurb).
If you buy the script (where I read about the rose) it says that in the original cut, the film was bookended by a trial in which the daughter and her boyfriend are convicted of Lester's murder. It was removed, I think because it was considered superfluous and probably also because it put a damper on an uplifting movie.

Jules: American beauty is a type of rose, beloved (hehe) for it's synthesised perfection. A facsimilie of pefection if you like without the scent. This is a tale of a neutered generation living in a false, materialistic world chasing after the American (beauty) 'dream'. The truth is that the dream lies in the simplicity and reality of life rather than the elaborate ambitions of capitalism of what we are as defined by our possesions. hell of a film and got to be one of my all time best!

Brandy: American Beauty is the name of a rose.

And the name seems terribly self explanitory. It's about life in America and about beauty. How to live a remarkable (beautiful) life in suburbia. Each character is searching for beauty:

Angela - fame/physical beauty
Jane Burnham - love/physical beauty
Lester Burnham - youth/freedom
Carolyn Burnham - property
Colonel Fitts - posterity/history
Barbara Fitts - N/A (she's given up hope)
Ricky Fitts - asthetics

flabbey: my opinion on the title: Lester had been living in a bland, colorless, ugly life. He feels "sedated" and stagnant. A series of events- all related to the beauty in life- occur to revive him into a state of content and appreciation, and it is at this point his life ends.

You see, when he saw the beautiful blonde girl in the gym, it woke up his sense of youth and desire. He remembered all the things he wanted but ignored to obtain the myth of the "American Dream." So he begins to live again. He works for what he wants (the beautiful girl) and not what he should want.

His daughter's boyfriend plays the role of the "clarifier" in the film. This boy is concerned with the one thing that makes life worth living: beauty. The beauty of everyday events, the beauty in a face, the beauty in the entire life cycle-- even death. When someone watching the film thinks it is silly that Lester is so infatuated with some shallow school girl, the boyfriend is there to remind them that what else do we live for if not beauty? When do we feel more than looking at something beautiful?

Lester lives for life's aesthetic, for what the American Dream should be. He realizes this dream, and his life is complete. He literally dies with a smile on his face, the most beautiful death one could ask for.

So, the whole film of the theme revolved around beauty- obtaining beauty, yearning beauty- and the distortion of America's perception of life.

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Keisuke: I do not agree: she's not the starting point, Leister himself is. It's not because of her that he feels younger. At the party, before smoking the weed, he was very bored and sick of what surrounded him. He fakes a brilliant relationship with his wife and then he swallows a double drink. Only AFTER that, he goes outside and smokes weed. And it's from there, from the memory of a life he has lost, maybe when he smoked the last joint, that he begins to live his life as he did. Angela (the blond girl) surely is a focal point, but I don't think the title is about her. Actually, for your information, American Beauty is the name of the most typical American rose (maybe you know that already, but no one said that).
Basically, I think that the 'american beauty' of the title is the hypocrisy and sense of emptyness hidden behind their 'nice family' mask (i.e. the military father, the mother, the king of sales).
At the end, he who APPARENTLY is empty awakes and meets the real life. Even if for a short period of time.

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Lisa: The title of American Beauty is about the stereotypical view of stereotypical America....

As you pointed out, the young blonde girl in the story is a focal point of the whole story and nothing else in the story would have happened without her. Yet, we are drawn more to the other characters in the story and feel more sympathy and recognition with them...

This is because each character represents a different part of who we are or who the archetypical american is in american society. The story actually focuses on the effect the young girl had on the others around her, and the effect she had on herself, being a beautiful girl trying to live up to what is seen as desirable in our modern society. In reality, she leads quite a pretentious life where she is living up to an image that she doesn't really fit, and we find out that Lester can't go through with sleeping with her because he doesn't want to spoil the beauty of her innocence. Meanwhile everyone else in the story discovers the beauty of being who they are and we are shown that being individual and going for what you believe in can make people happier even though life also brings tragedy. i think the story is about the beauty of being and not being beautiful, hence i think the title of the story has two meanings.... It suggests the archtypical beauty of the blonde girl in the movie that most of us strive to acheive but also suggests the beauty of being exactly the opposite of that.

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Chad: your right on the mark about "american beauty". i was a bit confused after seeing it to but com to the same conclusion as you. nothing would have happened if it wasn't for "her".

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