Author Topic: John Twist (film only)- Sad Dad or Mean Man?  (Read 2336 times)

Offline Sandy

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John Twist (film only)- Sad Dad or Mean Man?
« on: January 10, 2008, 09:19:02 am »
As you all know, I’m knew to this forum (and any other!) and I have difficulty in deciding when something is ‘off-topic’ or not.  I want to discuss John Twist as he is portrayed in the film as opposed to the book (which I see a thread on).  I don’t see any other relevant thread, therefore if there is, please let me know and I’ll move my comments elsewhere. 

In the film, I feel so desperately sorry for John Twist (this may be controversial!).

I think that Jack’s comments don’t show a bad father, simply a gruff old fool which may be linked to his generation rather than Jack.  Also, Jack was nineteen when these comments were made: teenage rebellion?

The most important scene however is his father’s interaction with Ennis.

John says that Jack thought he was too special to be buried with the family.  Jack left home at such a young age, I think that his father may have been incredibly hurt that Jack didn’t want to hang around and help him with the family business.  Even in death, Jack wanted to be away from home.  He didn’t want to be buried with his mum and dad, he wanted as far away from the ranch as possible: that has got to hurt a parent! 

He thereafter moves on to speak about how Jack was going to bring Ennis Del Mar to the ranch.  Clearly, Jack felt comfortable enough to say Ennis’ name and keep telling them about how ‘they’ were going to build a cabin.  His disdain for Ennis, I feel, is that he didn’t come with Jack as Jack so wanted.  Every parent wants their child to be happy and Ennis moving with Jack would have sent Jack over the moon.  John calls it a ‘half baked’ notion, which indeed it was as Ennis didn’t ever go. 

Remember, Ennis was allowed into the home in the first place!

I think that the spitting in the cup shows anger, not disgust.  When Ennis punches Jack, he spits.  When he falls out with Jack during their argument, he spits.   

John thereafter talks about another fella moving up there, to build a cabin.  He looks as if he is smirking whilst telling Ennis this, it seems he is trying to hurt Ennis.  Which of course, he does! We see Ennis’ reaction and it is Mrs Twist who steps in at that stage to invite him to Jack’s room.

Mrs Twist appears to be the submissive partner, yet she says that she kept his room as it was when he was a boy.  If John Twist didn’t want Jack around, I think that he would have put his foot down and not allowed it.  I think they both hoped that one day, Jack would come home.  He never did, even at the end, they only got half of his ashes.  Half of his ashes, for the half of his life they had with him. 

Finally, at the start of the scene, Ennis talks about taking Jack’s ‘ashes’ to Brokeback.  At the end, John says that “he [Jack]” is going into the family plot.  John is referring to Jack, not the ashes which I think means so much. 

Sorry I took so long! 
 ::)

Scott6373

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Re: John Twist (film only)- Sad Dad or Mean Man?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2008, 10:13:34 am »
I don't think you can paint him as one or the other exclusively.  He, like just about every other character in this are victims, and if you look closely, they are all victims of the same human failing:  Not owning their own lives and the choices they have made that put them where they are when we meet them.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: John Twist (film only)- Sad Dad or Mean Man?
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2008, 10:30:33 am »
While I don't see John Twist as you do, I think it's perfectly possible to feel sorry for him.

I think he's an angry, bitter man, angry at the world, and this includes his son. We're not told the root of this anger, but apparently it's of long-standing. I don't agree with you about what Jack's comments in 1963 show about his father. I take them at face value--Jack can't please his old man no how, and that the old man never once went to see Jack ride the bulls.

As far as him being hurt that Jack didn't want to stick around Lightning Flat, well, Jack did come back every year to help out for a while, and if Jack didn't want to be around his father, I think that may be a result of the old man's anger and self-absorption preventing him from having a good relationship with his son. I'd also disagree that "every parent wants their child to be happy." Good parents certainly do, but I don't think angry, self-absorbed people like John Twist make good parents.

I don't think his disdain for Ennis has to do with Ennis's never coming to Lightning Flat with Jack. Bear in mind, after Ennis refuses to set up a cow and calf operation with Jack, we have no evidence that Jack ever mentioned that plan to Ennis, only that Jack mentioned it to his father. The old man's disdain is directed at his dead son, who apparently, in his view, came up with lots of big ideas in his lifetime but never followed through on them. Any disdain for Ennis, I think, comes out of knowing--or maybe at least strongly suspecting--exactly what the nature of Jack's relationship with Ennis was. When Peter McRobbie looks at Heath, I think he does a very good job of portraying the "knowing look" that Annie Proulx attributes to John Twist.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Sandy

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Re: John Twist (film only)- Sad Dad or Mean Man?
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2008, 12:51:40 pm »
Hiya Jeff

Once I read the book, I viewed John Twist in a completely different light, and I agree completely with all of your comments.  Jack’s memory of his dad urinating on him is heartbreaking and is nothing short of child abuse.  Any person who does that to a three or four year old boy is lashing out at something.  A good parent he is not. 

But back to the film, I too take the comments Jack made about his Dad at face value, and I hear him talking about a disinterested father.  The fact that he is so close to Ennis and only mentions not being able to please his Dad, and his Dad not being there to watch him makes me think (again, from the film only) that his dad wasn’t abusive to him.  I think Jack is more animated when he talks about L.D.

Regarding him leaving home young, I wonder if it had more to do with different hopes.  John wanted him on the ranch, Jack wanted to rodeo.  Could that be the reason why John didn’t encourage him by going to see him ride?  (I didn't want to mention the book, but it does say that John used to put him on the wooilies). I suppose John should have counted himself lucky that Jack went home for long spells- I think when young ‘uns flee the nest they tend to stay flown!

The old man's disdain is directed at his dead son, who apparently, in his view, came up with lots of big ideas in his lifetime but never followed through on them.

I see your point.  John says, “Jack used to say [..]" but as usual Jack’s idea “didn’t come to pass”.  John knew that Jack wanted it, and John must realise that the only reason it didn’t happen was because Ennis couldn’t do it.  He knew that this one was out of Jack’s hands and it wasn’t his fault that it didn’t happen, yet he was sarcastic about it. 

I don’t agree that the disdain shown to Ennis was to do with their relationship.  It seems to be the general assumption that John is homophobic, but I don't think there's any real proof of that.  There is also no indication that John was proud of Jack’s relationship with Lureen, or Bobby for that matter. John may well have had the same disdain for Lureen when he first married, her “old man making serious money” an’ all! 


Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: John Twist (film only)- Sad Dad or Mean Man?
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2008, 01:37:44 pm »
I don’t agree that the disdain shown to Ennis was to do with their relationship.  It seems to be the general assumption that John is homophobic, but I don't think there's any real proof of that.

You should talk to ineedcrayons. On this point she agrees with you hunnerd percent.  ;D

Quote
There is also no indication that John was proud of Jack’s relationship with Lureen, or Bobby for that matter. John may well have had the same disdain for Lureen when he first married, her “old man making serious money” an’ all! 

I suppose he'd probably be jealous and resentful of the Newsomes' success in life. Like I said, I take him for an angry, bitter person generally.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: John Twist (film only)- Sad Dad or Mean Man?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2008, 01:48:57 pm »
My view of John Twist is very close to yours, Sandy. Actually, I didn't feel quite as sympathetic toward him as you do, but your first post was very convincing. I have always seen him as a grieving father -- gruff, harsh, grumpy, bitter and off-putting, but genuinely grieving. And you're right, even Jack's request to have his ashes scattered elsewhere has got to feel to his father like a slap in the face, an extra twist (sorry) of the knife.

(I am referring to Movie John Twist, too. Story John Twist is a different ... story.)

I am also in the camp that doesn't view him as overtly homophobic. His gruffness, etc., could just as easily be displayed by a father toward a heterosexual son with whom he had a rocky relationship. In fact, you see very similar behavior in countless other movies involving generational conflict between (straight) sons and their dads. There's nothing gay-specific -- as far as we can tell from the movie -- about the problems between the Twist men.

When John Twist says anything that DOES allude to Jack's sexual orientation, he expresses no explicit disapproval. Clearly he understands the relationship between Ennis and Jack ("I know where Brokeback Mountain is" seems code for that), but doesn't say anything disparaging about it. He criticizes Jack's plan to ditch his family and live with another man not because it implies Jack is gay but because Jack didn't follow through with it, and John didn't get the ranch help he needed. And the fact that Jack was comfortable confiding his plans to the old man in the first place suggests they were pretty open about things.

What a shocker for Ennis, whose entire view of homosexuality was instilled by a father who was, demographically speaking, a lot like John Twist. Ennis probably assumed that all gruff rancher fathers, along with just about everyone else in the world, hated homosexuals. And because Jack complained about his father (while Ennis spoke of his own mostly respectfully), Ennis and the viewers are set up to expect John Twist to be a raging homophobe -- we may even assume that's why Jack's folks run him off.

But when he's not, Ennis learns a new lesson along with all the other new things he discovers after Jack's death. And we viewers see once again that, in BBM, you can't always judge people by their exteriors or your own expectations.

You should talk to ineedcrayons. On this point she agrees with you hunnerd percent.  ;D

 :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: I was writing this when your post came in, Jeff!





Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: John Twist (film only)- Sad Dad or Mean Man?
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2008, 02:22:34 pm »
:laugh: :laugh: :laugh: I was writing this when your post came in, Jeff!

 :laugh:  :laugh:  :laugh: (((ineedcrayons)))
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Toycoon

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Re: John Twist (film only)- Sad Dad or Mean Man?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2008, 03:49:25 pm »
I don't think you can paint him as one or the other exclusively.  He, like just about every other character in this are victims, and if you look closely, they are all victims of the same human failing:  Not owning their own lives and the choices they have made that put them where they are when we meet them.

I like your statement, Scott. I never heard anyone put it so succinctly before. Thanks.
"The most important thing is being sincere, even if you have to fake it." - Cesar Romero

Offline Clyde-B

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Re: John Twist (film only)- Sad Dad or Mean Man?
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2008, 04:54:31 pm »
   One thing I've learned is that there's always more to people than what you see or what you think you know.  Whatever their reasons, most people don't show you everything.  In my experience, what remains hidden are fears and hurts and the softness of humanity that they feel it's too dangerous to reveal. 

   Most cynics I've known have turned out to be romantics that somehow just couldn't make it work.  (As a recovering cynic myself, I especially know this is true.)

   We don't know where Jack Twist got his penchant for dreaming.  If it was from his father, what would living all those years on a ranch that's little more than scrubland in the hopeless desolation of Lightning Flat done to a dreamer? Did he want to protect Jack from that?  Is that why he's so bitter about dreaming, because his own dreams never came true?  And there's always the question, why would a sweet woman like Jack's mother have married John Twist in the first place?  What were they both like 40 years ago?

Offline Artiste

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Re: John Twist (film only)- Sad Dad or Mean Man?
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2008, 08:42:56 pm »
Thanks Sandy!

Even if many did talk about Jack's father (and I did too), you bring up such good points. And so do others here too!! Thanks! Thanks!

Since some of you know me, I have still questions, about John Twist!

For now some are :
1. Jack Twist must have invited his parents to his wedding? Or not? What do you think... and all of you?? Does this say something about the father and son relationship??

2. You say Ennis spits... often, and Jack does not?? In the BM movie, Jack, I think spits once, why?
Spitting, I often see when I look at a male and so I wonder: he spits since he felt I was gay?? Can anyone and you tell me more about that?

3. We must not forget that Jack is John's ONLY son?? No other child ever or maybe in that family? This changes things... maybe.

4. As far as fleeing the nest, when you like your father, you come back. Jack came back to his parents, often?
Rarest are those who never do visit again their parents, I knew of some... maybe. So John must have been somewhat amiable with Jack  as older, before and after Jack's marriage... plus Jack's jobs on Brokeback Mountain and rodeos!! ?? That should say something.

5. Concerning pissing on one's son, I will come back to that later, as I have real stories there too.
I must go, rest, as am fatigued now having moved furniture even with my broken bones,

and waiting your news from you and from all,

hugs!   May understanding be shared and enjoyed among father and son, even if the son or father are gay persons!!!!