"What's Eating Gilbert Grape": Setting

Essay by poppy_marseHigh School, 10th grade October 2006

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The film "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" directed by Lasse Hallstrom is set in the small and slow moving town of Endora in America and the Grape house. The way that Endora is portrayed throughout the film relates to some key ideas in the text. The ideas of isolation, being trapped and not being able to modernise or change are apparent to the viewer in the film. We see Endora as being the embodiment of the main character, Gilbert's feelings about himself and his life. The Grape house and Endora also personify different characters and relationships in the film.

The establishing shot of the film is along shot of empty fields and empty roads. This gives the audience a sense of loneliness. The feeling is reinforced by Gilbert's statement that: "Describing Endora is like dancing to no music." When Gilbert describes his life, family and hometown the audience feels that he has a very negative view of everything around him.

"Nothing much ever happens here and nothing much ever will." This town is a slow and quiet place. The viewer sees that Gilbert is lonely and feels that his life is empty, just like Endora is lonely and empty.

Throughout the film, we see Gilbert's unhappiness and loneliness. We also get the sense that he doesn't like his life in Endora and feels trapped there. He strongly resents the fact that there is a definite possibility that he won't ever leave Endora. We know this from the way he reacts when this fact is pointed out to him. When Arnie is on the porch and is yelling "We're not going anywhere! We're not going anywhere!" Gilbert reacts in a way that is highly unusual for him. He gets angry and drives off, purposely almost driving over his sister Ellen.