The movie was released on March the 4th 1994 and stars Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio and Juliette Lewis and was directed by Lasse Holstrom. The movie is about a young man named Gilbert Grape who lives in the very dull town of Endora caring for his mentally disabled brother Arnie, and morbidly obese mother. Gilbert also has two sisters, Ellen and Amy, and a brother who left the family years ago. The family’s father tragically committed suicide. My question was, what did I think contributed to Gilbert’s mental breakdown leading him to hit Arnie?
Gilbert spends almost every hour of every day looking after Arnie. This of course made the brothers extremely close. Because of Arnie’s disability he knows no fear, this is shown when he repeatedly climbs the water tank. Even whilst hanging from almost 30 meters up Arnie is smiling and inching higher and higher. When he is eventually brought down the police try to take him down to the station when Gilbert steps in and promises that he won’t do it again, the police officer then says that he’s promised that many times before.
This shows that this is not Arnie’s first time climbing the water tank. As they walk off Arnie even says that he already wants to go back up there and reaches for the ladder again. Later in the movie we see Gilbert packing groceries into the back of his truck, then out of nowhere the cameras pan to Ellen who is chasing Arnie as he sprints for the ladder to the water tank, and he does in fact reach the ladder and get a couple of steps up when Ellen catches him and pulls him straight off. She then begins to punch him and pull his hair.
Gilbert sees this and intervenes by pulling Ellen off of Arnie and tells her that “no-one ever hurts Arnie. ” This is a pivotal scene because it is one of very few scenes where Gilbert shows some emotion. He is extremely mad and worried for Arnie. He again says “no-one hurts Arnie. ” Before we knew it the family was preparing for Arnie’s 18th birthday party. All members of the family were present at dinner and discussing they’re responsibilities. Ellen was in charge of decorating, Amy was designing and making a cake, and doing all of the cooking on the day, but when it is Gilbert’s turn he had nothing to say.
Ellen then chimes in and says that Gilbert isn’t doing anything, that he never does anything even though he single handily keeps the house from falling down, works 2 jobs to pay for food and supplies, and most importantly constantly care for Arnie. Even whilst Gilbert is copping unreasonable scrutiny he still shows no emotion. He just bottles it up. I think that his inability to vent his emotions contributed greatly to his eventual breakdown. In the scenes that follow we see Amy preparing the cake, and she is almost finished when Gilbert and Arnie come roaring through the front door with Arnie saying “I don’t wanna take a bath. Obviously Arnie is still traumatised by his past experience where he was left in the tub overnight by Gilbert. The chase then enters the kitchen where Amy is holding the freshly made cake and she is bowled over by Arnie and the cake goes flying and is destroyed. Amy is clearly upset and Gilbert again shows no emotion. Seeing as the party is the next day Gilbert was forced to go to food-land which is the rival to the small grocery store where Gilbert is employed. As Gilbert exits the store with the new bought cake he sees his friend and employer and is very very embarrassed.
Gilbert gets back to the house, puts the cake in the fridge and tells Arnie NOT to touch the cake. We then see all of the grapes setting the table around momma and just before they are about to sit down momma calls in Arnie. Out of the doorway appears Arnie with icing from the cake around his mouth and all over his fingers. This is the point in the movie where Gilbert just snaps, he’s had enough of being weighed down by the responsibility of caring for Arnie. He Grabs Arnie and drags him to the bathroom, Gilbert then begins to run the bath when Arnie makes a dash for the door but Gilbert grabs him just before he breaks loose.
That was the last straw, Gilbert then self destructs and hits Arnie, not just once but multiple times. With Arnie lying on the floor, Gilbert leaves the bathroom, leaves the house and leaves the town. The Question was put to me. What did I think lead to the breakdown of Gilbert Grape? I think that the constant responsibility of caring for Arnie, working 2 jobs to support the family, maintaining the house, the lack of acknowledgement from his family for his efforts, and the fact the he bottles all of his emotions up all lead to his Emotional snap.