How Is Arnie Portrayed In What's Eating Gilbert Grape

1208 Words5 Pages
As the camera zooms out slowly and we hear crickets chirping, we are introduced to the charming world of “What’s eating Gilbert Grape”. The film that many have come to love, along with its extremely famous actors, was released in 1993 in the United States and directed by Lasse Hallstrom. Endora, Iowa is the home of the Grape family, it’s a small, unchanging town where the main character Gilbert (Johnny Depp) feels trapped and death seems to be the only way out. Gilbert provides for his mother, sisters, and his autistic brother, Arnie (Leonardo Di Caprio). “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” is in many ways an unrealistic and demeaning view of autism. Arnie is represented throughout the movie as a burden to Gilbert and the rest of the Grape family,…show more content…
From the first few seconds of the movie you can tell Arnie is not normal, with his screaming and mumbling of numbers. Arnie is portrayed to the audience as a lovable but annoying character, his reactions to situations in the movie are odd and out of place compared to the other characters. He has trouble understanding the emotions and heaviness of death on his family. Early on in the movie the audience is introduced to the fact that the father of the Grape family committed suicide years before the movie takes place. Arnie does quite understand how to handle the situation, he repeatedly screams “Dad's dead! Dad's dead! Dad's dead! Dad's dead! Dad's dead! Dad's dead!”, this causes his mother great distress. He continues this with making hanging gestures and laughing until he is forced to stop by his sisters. Even when he is older he doesn’t understand it when his mother dies and he is left an orphan. In the scene with his mother’s death, he finds her body and starts climbing on top of her, when she doesn’t respond he says “You’re hiding huh? I know that”. He proceeds to get extremely angry and throws a tantrum when she doesn’t wake up. Arnie is constantly shown to not be able to take care of himself and viewed as pathetic by everyone except Becky. “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” is one of the rare movies to not depict Arnie as a savant according to Douwne, “In movies, however, there are hardly any autistic…show more content…
There are only two instruments used in the few scenes that have music, piano is used during the sad and to make the audience feel the anxiety felt by the character. An example of this is after Gilbert snaps and beats Arnie, then he drives away in his truck away from Endora with only this music playing. On the other hand, whenever there is a scene full of happiness a guitar plays. This usually happens whenever Gilbert and Arnie are having brotherly bonding or when there is a love scene between Gilbert and Becky. But the most compelling and used element is this movie is the lack of music. In every scene that Arnie is in, he is louder than everything else in the scene. Whether he is the main focus of the scene or just in the background, he dominates the audio. This can cause the audience to resent Arnie and find him to be extremely annoying after listening to his screaming for an hour. The visuals are used in a very similar way to the music. The colors and lighting are very unchanging much like the town Endora. The only exception is when there are strong emotions within the film. There is a warm glow of lighting by the sunlight or fire whenever there is a time of love, be it brotherly or in a romantic way. During the melancholy times of the story, the lighting is either dim when it relates to death, but when a character is feels lost in their emotions the director
Open Document