American Beauty

American Beauty Glossary

Black Comedy

A story in which the humor comes from objects that are not traditionally considered humorous (e.g. war, death, inappropriate or loveless relationships).


A movie that has a box-office return of over 100 million upon its North American release. The term is also generally applied to movies that are tremendous financial successes.


The director's responsibilities traditionally include casting, script editing, shot selection, shot composition, communication with (and direction of) actors, and editing. Since the director communicates his or her wishes to the actors, and determines when a shot is complete, the director usually has primary artistic control over the film as a whole; however, it is fairly common for directors to have binding agreements with producers and studios, who also maintain a certain amount of control over a given film.


Information that provides audiences with background information, usually in an effort to advance the storyline more quickly or to give audiences a better understanding of the characters.


A scene that disrupts the ordinary chronology of a film to offer a brief glimpse into a past event.


The sharpness of an image, created by the quality of a camera or adjustments made to a camera.


When a voice is heard on camera but the speaker does not appear on screen or is not speaking the words while on screen.