Through his concern and care for his patient the therapist succeeds in breaking through these barriers. In the process they develop a close and understanding relationship and become firm friends. This supportive relationship is one of the central reasons why the King is able to deal with his stammer and speak successfully in public.

A different set of obstacles confronts the main protagonist in What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993). However, in both these films we find the theme of understanding, empathy and compassion and the power of these elements to overcome problems and difficulties. In this film a touching and sensitive picture of a dysfunctional family is portrayed.

Gilbert Grape lives in a small town with his obese and housebound mother, his brother who is mentally challenged and his two sisters. The responsibilities for the family rest with Gilbert as he is the only member of the family who is able to get a job. He also has the additional responsibility of looking after an often difficult and tiresome brother. Gilbert's problem is also added to by his relationship with a married woman. On top of this the store that he works at is being challenged by more modern competition.

The plot of the film involves the introduction of another complicating element when a young girl, Becky, arrives in the small town. Her arrival brings to the surface the central problem that Gilbert faces; namely that he is trapped in a small town and surrounded by problems and with very little time or opportunity for his own personal development. In essence, he is torn between the desire to live his own life and his sense of duty and responsibility, as well as love, for his family.

Within the context of this plot we see how care and concern for others tends to overcome and place into perspective the various problems that are faced in the film. Central to the film is the bond of care and compassion that exists between the two brothers, Gilbert and Arnie. However, the arrival of Becky leads to problems when Gilbert leaves his brother alone in the bathtub to spend time with her. Arnie cannot get out of the bath by himself and spends the night there, as a result he fears water and refuses to bathe; which in turn adds to the problems that Gilbert has to face.

The plot leads to a number of crises and traumas, including the eventual death of the mother. The tension between Gilbert's need to have his own life and his duty and love for his family continue until he leaves the town for a while. However, what is central to the film and to the theme being discussed in this paper is that care and compassion and the acceptance of the foibles and problems of others is at the centre of the tapestry of emotions that makes up this film. To illustrate this one could focus on the relationship that exists between the two brothers. In this relationship love and care are shown to overcome the trauma and difficulties that arise over time. In the end Gilbert finds the opportunity and strength to begin living his own life.

In conclusion, both these films show that family and friends provide support and assistance, and sometimes hindrances, in helping one another overcome problems. While the focus in The King's Speech is on a single problem that has to be overcome, in What's Wrong with Gilbert Grape we have a more complex plot and range of issues and problems. However, in both films the central theme of care and compassion for others is what eventually overcomes the problems that the characters encounter.


Unwin, G. ( Producer), & Tom Hooper ( Director) ( 2010).The King's Speech. [Motion

picture] United Kingdom: The Weinstein Company

Blomquist, A. ( Producer), & Hallstrom, H. ( Director)…