In the film What’s eating Gilbert Grape by Lasse Hallstrom, Johnny Depp plays the main character Gilbert Grape who lives in a lifeless remote town called Endora, with his morbidly obese mother and mentally handicapped brother Arnie. As a result of his family issues, Gilbert is left to take full responsibility of Arnie while working full time to support his family. One character I admired in this film is the character Becky who is Gilbert’s love interest. She is the catalyst for Gilbert as she is the one who opens Gilbert’s eyes to the world around him and influence him to taking action on getting what he wants.
The director uses dialogue, camera shots, music and costume to help me understand Becky’s character traits which I admire. Becky has a refreshing way of viewing the world and notices the little things in life. In the scene where Gilbert first visits Becky at her campsite while she puts up her laundry, Becky notices a praying mantis on a nearby tree. “Hey look! It’s a praying mantis, you know how they mate? The male will sneak up onto the female and bite his head off and eat him. In this scene the director uses a mid shot of Becky at eye level so the audience can see that the whole time she was describing the praying mantis, she never took her eyes off it while explaining with enthusiasm to Gilbert. Her costume was a purple robe with a long sleeve underneath and white stockings, covering up most of her skin. We can tell that her clothes are for comfort not fashion. We can also see from the shot that Becky’s face is full of fascination as she marvels at the praying mantis’ mating. This scene shows the audience that Becky is sensible, knowledgeable and free spirited.
These are all admirable traits and this scene has made me gain respect for Becky as she seems like a genuine person who has a great insight towards life. Becky is an adventurist kind of girl who likes to travel and see places. In the scene where Gilbert has lunch with Becky and her grandmother, Gilbert says “It must be incredibly frustrating to be stuck in a place like Endora. ” Because of the fact that Gilbert has lived in Endora his whole life, he thinks of it as a prison, as he feels like he is ‘stuck’ in Endora.
Becky objects his remark and says “This place is as good as any other. ” The director then shows a mid shot of Gilbert furrowing his eyebrows to Becky’s remark. This shows that Gilbert is shocked to see that Becky doesn’t find Endora a dead end town unlike himself. This scene also demonstrates Becky’s passion for travelling and seeing the world. Becky’s grandmother says “I’ve spent most of my whole life in the same spot; anyways she encouraged me to get out! ” Becky’s positive attitude and passion towards life influenced her grandmother to do the same and to follow in her footsteps.
I greatly admire Becky for encouraging her grandmother to get out more as it has made her grandmother happy with her life. This scene also foreshadows the fact that Becky will not only influence her grandmother, but eventually Gilbert as well. Becky is self determined and helps Gilbert to realise that in order for him to be happy with his life, he needs to act and stop being passive. In the scene with Gilbert and Becky by the lake at night, Becky talks to Gilbert about his father’s suicide. She asks him if he thinks it was his father’s fault he died.
Gilbert responds with “No, nobody knew what he felt, he was just sort of there, we tried to get him to play around, laugh, get him to smile, but…nothing…just like he was already dead. ” Becky then looked at him directly and said “I used to know a guy like that. ” The director then uses a series of close up shots alternating between Gilbert and Becky smiling at each other. It is at this point where Gilbert realises that Becky was talking about him and when he was talking about his father, he was about himself the whole time.
Soft piano music is also used to set the mood of the scene where Gilbert is actually happy for the first time in a long time. There are a number of traits about Becky in which I admire, I admire the fact that she is optimistic, free spirited and self determined. These traits of hers made me highly appreciative of her character as I think there needs to be more people in this world like her to help people like Gilbert. The director uses a range of techniques such as camera work, dialogue, costume and music to help the audience to understand the character’s emotions and feelings which ultimately leads the audience to understand the character.