Gilbert The Grape Essay, Research Paper
Feature films engage with the audience in many ways. The films The Castle, What s Eating Gilbert Grape and Rocky all contain strong central characters, in which the characterisation of them plays a large part in engaging the viewer and conveying messages encoded in the films. For example, in the satirical The Castle, Daryl Kerrigan is portrayed as a regular Aussie Battler , with exaggerated traditional family and neighbourhood values to highlight the advantages of being of a higher class in society, and how the government deals with issues regarding the needs of the individual in society. The characterisation of Gilbert Grape in What s Eating Gilbert Grape assists in inflicting values of ones personal needs to the viewer while intertextual references to the life of Mohamed Ali in Rocky inflicts values of personal goals and determination.
Daryl Kerrigan is the central character in The Castle. He is characterised to have an average or normal character. He is portrayed as just another one in the crowd . He is often pictured next to tall buildings, humbling his figure, and high objects surround his house, such as planes and electricity towers. The airport and the towers also make him appear small and humble because they are something that people have done which he marvels, so does not fully understand. There are shots of him walking into the distance on the street, among the crowd until he becomes almost invisible. This highlights the fact he is only one person same as many, it also suggests that the government has possibly lost sight of the common man, and is not thinking of the individual in society.
Daryl is characterised to be the typical Aussie battler ; he is simple, optimistic, and loving and caring toward his family and neighbourhood. His simplicity is shown clearly through what pleases him, for example, his wife s cooking. He is marvelled with common foods such as rissoles, sponge cake and ice cream. He is proud of Tracey because she is a qualified hairdresser, and has appeared on The Price is Right . He wears ordinary clothes such as flannelette shirts and jeans, further illustrating his common nature and simplicity. He is a tow-truck driver, which is not only significant because it is a typical common-man s job, but because it highlights how he contrasts to the stereotypical tow-truck driver, as their profession is to feed off others mistakes. He cares for his family greatly, as he tries to bear all of the weight associated with their house problems. His family values are accentuated because most occasions are a family occasions, dinner is always eaten at the table and the television is watched together. This is also highlighted by having most of the scenes of the family with everyone arranged in a family picture pose, for example, when they are watching television together or the picture on Wayne s wall. The fact that Dale Kerrigan narrates the film is significant because it shows the importance of his family in his life, that is, it is his life. These attributes are constructed by the producer to encourage an audience of today to see Daryl and his family as harmless, and hence respond sympathetically to the their situation.
The audience can also see the rarity of having a family with values similar to the Kerrigans in Australia at this time. Daryl s care for his family and neighbours, no matter of their nationality or background is exaggerated because of the satirical style of the film, so the Kerrigan s differences to regular families are highlighted, hence the trend that people of today are less caring and tolerant of others is also accentuated. This is linked to the idea that many people s values of money exceed values of fairness and justice. This is expressed when Daryl rejects the Barlow Group s offer of more money for the house, because he has principles , hinting that society of today does not have these principles These ideas follow from the idea that Australian government does not cater directly for everyone s needs, that government officials are only catering for their own needs of money and their own convenience.
Daryl is also portrayed as ignorant and uneducated. He is seen as ignorant to the outside world as he does not realise the danger and discomfort caused by living near the towers and airport, and he does not know who Airlink is even though he lives next to an airport. He is a tow-truck driver, and the person with the highest level of education in the family is a TAFE graduate. Their family is therefore not wealthy and of a lower middle socio-economic class. When he had to find a lawyer it was clear that he did not have the necessary experience, information or even money to hire the right type. It is therefore obvious to the viewer that it is hard for an uneducated and poor person to compete against a more wealthy person of a higher education. This idea is confirmed when Wayne s parole is only granted when a rich people s lawyer is representing him. This addresses the issue that more wealthy people get advantages over poorer people. It also challenges the myth that Australia is a classless society and addresses the effects of classes in society.
Gilbert Grape is the central character of What s Eating Gilbert Grape. He is characterised as being trapped in his unrewarding and boring life. He works in a small store and lives with his family. This is developed by use of filmic techniques from the opening of the film when Arnie and Gilbert are waiting at the side of the road. Arnie is running around in circles talking excitedly, while Gilbert is sitting under the shade of a large tree, answering Arnie s questions in dulcet tones. The scenery is desolate and isolated with a long straight road stretching into the distance, representing Gilbert s boring and unrewarding life. The road also, as it is the only road in or out of Endora, symbolises the only way for Gilbert to leave his life. This notion is also expressed in the intent of Gilbert and Arnie, being to watch the string of campervans going passing through. They wish to be like them, they wish to move away from their current lives, yet they are just watching their chances pass. This is confirmed at the end of the film when Gilbert is finally driving on the road, leaving his life. The contrasting actions of the two at this point represent Gilbert s static nature, that he is going nowhere and achieving nothing in life. The repetition of him saying, We re not going anywhere represents Gilbert s entrapment while his voice, lacking emotion and expression, reflects his submissive nature. Further in the film there are many other symbols representing Gilberts entrapment, for example, the lobsters at the shop and the Arnie s bugs in the jar, the fact they are Arnie s bugs symbolising it is Arnie that burdens and therefore traps Gilbert. A window or the camera often frames Gilbert, further highlighting this entrapment.
Gilbert s family and his duties to them is the main thing that holds him down in his life. He is characterised to have many responsibilities; he is the breadwinner of the family and a father figure to Arnie and Ellen. He has a spiritually unrewarding job to support his family, and spends most of his time caring or watching over Arnie. He also places himself below others and does everything for other people. These ideas are also expressed through filmic techniques, for example, Gilbert is often positioned below others looking up. While working he is positioned crouching looking up at his boss, and he is seen looking up at Arnie climbing the water tower. This creates a sense of him being less than, or empowered by others, further reflecting his submissiveness. The fact that Gilbert is Arnie s prime carer implies he bears many responsibilities, which is also expressed visually with many scenes of Gilbert carrying Arnie on his back. The tree Gilbert sits under in the opening symbolises Gilbert s mother, its shadow representing her need for Gilbert and the entrapment and burden it places on him. These character attributes combined impose certain values on to the viewer, such as the importance of ones self-esteem and own needs.
In Rocky, Rocky Bal Boa is the central character. His character is modelled on Mohamed Ali, as portrayed in the documentary When We Were Kings . However, the end results of Ali s and Rocky s fights contrast, with Rocky losing and Ali winning. This signifies to the viewer that according to Rocky s values and aims, he had won, he had his girlfriend and he had gone the distance and fought to the best of his ability.
The films The Castle, What s Eating Gilbert Grape and Rocky all use the characterisation of their central character to engage the audience and to convey messages encoded in the films. The main issues of The Castle, such as government actions, changed values of society through the times and the effects of classes in society are all accentuated through the specific characterisation of the main character. Similarly, the characterisation of the central characters in What s Eating Gilbert Grape and Rocky help to inflict certain values that are encoded in the text.