Darlene Cates Q&A ~ #14

Actress who played Mama in WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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Darlene Cates Q&A ~ #14

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri May 25, 2007 8:31 am

Why do you think Momma went upstairs after the birthday party?



I'm not really sure.....but I felt that maybe she reflected on the day as one of possibilities and change. She had already ventured out of the house, seen Arnie turn eighteen, and met Gilbert's girlfriend without rejection. I think she began to consider that she might be able to get up the stairs and rest in her own bed after all those restless nights on the couch. Some have asked me if she knew she was going to die. I don't think so. She wouldn't have wanted to put the kids or herself in a difficult situation, that she surely knew dying upstairs would bring. What do you think?
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Unread postby heidi1 » Fri May 25, 2007 9:53 am

In all the years that I viewed this movie, which is my favorite movie of all, I always viewed Momma going upstairs as making a postive move forward in her life. I always viewed it as a most courageous step on her part, and that that courage came from all that had been resolved due to the preceding events. It never occurred to me that it could be tied in with her dying, or as a move that could be perceived in a negative light. To me, Momma's warmth and spiritual strength for her family came through during the whole movie, that it just reinforced the courage and strength that her children gave her, and now she wanted to move forward physically toward a more normal life now and participate more in the daily routine. Thanks for your thoughts, Darlene!

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Unread postby nebraska » Fri May 25, 2007 2:38 pm

Darlene, that was always my thought, too, that going upstairs was a symbol of Mama's decision to really start living again......but there were some of the members here, during the book discussion, who felt she might have known she was dying.

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Unread postby Betty Sue » Fri May 25, 2007 3:18 pm

Momma/Darlene did seem like she was feeling better as she ascended the stairs, that she was ready to make some changes. As Darlene said, Momma/Darlene would not intentionally put her kids in a difficult situation. Book Momma, however, was not nearly as considerate of those around her and seemed like she might have just been calling it quits after making it through the eighteenth birthday. There were really two different Mommas. So I agree with you, Darlene (and heidi and nebraska), and love the way you played it. :cool:
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Unread postby Bix » Fri May 25, 2007 5:09 pm

I like your interpretation, Darlene, and you really did convey that feeling to us in the movie very well. I'd like to add my thanks to you for taking the time to answer our questions and share your experiences with us.

We had a great discussion of why Momma goes upstairs, if you are interested. If you go to page 2 (at least for right now) of the ONBC Forum, it is WEGG Question #23: After the Party. There are some very insightful comments.
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Unread postby gemini » Fri May 25, 2007 5:29 pm

Yes, I agree with those who think she was happy that so many good things happened that day. Also climbing the steps was considered a positive thing to her family and I think that is how she felt too.
I usually go for the Polly Anna view as some have called it here but I really felt this was a positive in both the film and the book. I am glad that playing Momma you felt the same way, Darlene.

Looking at it this way is also a bittersweet ending because fate intervened when she finally took a positive step.
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Unread postby Linda Lee » Fri May 25, 2007 6:13 pm

I thinke you have to separate the movie and the book on this question. My feelings were far more positive as concerns Momma in the movie. Her trip upstairs (in the movie) did seem to indicate a positive change in her life, however, I did not feel that way about Momma in the book.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri May 25, 2007 6:44 pm

I agree that the book and movie Mommas differ here. gemini, I'm a Pollyanna too. I got a positive feeling from movie Momma but much less so from book Momma. Thanks, Darelene for giving us your point of view!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Liz » Sat May 26, 2007 10:54 am

I’m really glad to hear your viewpoint on this matter, Darlene, as I was one of the ones who thought she had gone upstairs to die. I was really hoping you would answer this question the way you did.
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Unread postby nebraska » Sat May 26, 2007 12:55 pm

Linda Lee wrote:I thinke you have to separate the movie and the book on this question. My feelings were far more positive as concerns Momma in the movie. Her trip upstairs (in the movie) did seem to indicate a positive change in her life, however, I did not feel that way about Momma in the book.


Thanks for mentioning this. I guess I had a lot of trouble with the book Mama vs the movie Mama... I had known movie Mama for a long time and loved her. In spite of book Mama being a somewhat less lovable character, I wasn't able to get movie Mama out of my mind while I read. That is probably why I felt going upstairs was positive, because it seemed that way in the movie. I had not stopped to think, either, that some of this might have been because Darlene believed in Mama and that her feelings affected the scene. Great question!

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Unread postby Xaxis » Sun May 27, 2007 2:40 pm

In the film, I too, agree that the walk up the stairs was to be symbolic of a hope for a new beginning. I imagined that it would be a physical one, but not of the permanent kind. It turned into a spiritual journey. In the movie what really stands out is when the fire climbs the stairs and echoes momma's ascent. Both sad, yet beautiful to those who believe in a life after this one.
It could also be read from a Jungian dream perspective. Jung often used the house as a symbol for the soul, there the top floor of the house is seen as being the spiritual room. The highest order, the burning purple chakra. (The dove above her head, the symbol of Christ.)
In the movie, I like to imagine that her freedom from this earth moves her children's lives forward and also gave her the chance as a spiritual soul, to help her children on earth. But, that my friends is pure spiritual Polly Anna.... and I love it.! :cloud9:
Thanks, Darlene! :cloud9:
“Know thyself” and “Nothing to excess” inscribed on the temple of Apollo at Delphi.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun May 27, 2007 8:30 pm

Xaxis, thank you for a new perspective on the scene. I never noticed that the fire echoed Momma's ascent up the stairs or the dove. :-O I'm a Pollyanna too. :blush:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby SilentMovieEyes » Tue May 29, 2007 7:22 am

Beautifully explained, Xaxis! I couldn't agree more with your view of it. And the ultimate sacrifice a mother will do for her children.
Kim: Hold me.
Edward: ...I can't.


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