American BeautyMaybe I’m strange, but one of my favourite films is American Beauty, directed by Sam Mendes and starring Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening. It is the story of a dysfunctional family and the interaction between them and their new neighbours. It involves Lester Burnham, played by Spacey, his wife Carolyn, played by Bening and their daughter Jane, played by Thora Birch, who befriends the boy next door, Ricky Fitts, played by Wes Bentley.

Ricky videos life, all aspects of life, and sees the beauty in everything from a dead bird to a plastic bag dancing in the wind. It’s not an easy watch. It touches on all manner of issues, from death, drugs and interpersonal problems to Nazi memorabilia, gay rights and marital infidelity, but it is beautifully acted and even more beautifully filmed.

Having watched it again, but for the first time in high definition today, it got me thinking about the sheer amount of beauty in life. Of course, much of life is ugly, but there is often an underlying beauty there too. It prompted me to revisit a set of photos I took at Westonbirt arboretum last year, and I have reworked the video of those images, set to music. I challenge you to watch the video and not to see just how beautiful life can be, even when the subject is autumn leaves, the dying season of the year. Watch it here.

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