Author Topic: The Love of Two Shirts  (Read 2866 times)

Offline moviegoer

  • Don't Say Much
  • *
  • Posts: 7
The Love of Two Shirts
« on: June 22, 2006, 08:16:18 pm »
First off, my sincere apologies if the aspect of this topic has been posted elsehwere. I'm sure it has but I didn't see it when I searched for it. So...  I JUST saw BBM (this past weekend) and I hardly ever do postings on message boards but BBM has left such an odd (in a good way), lasting impression on me that I felt compelled to write.

In my opinion, by far BBM would never have been as successful as it was if it weren’t for the amazing 2 leads. Yes, the story was dripping with beautiful scenery, had gripping & nuanced performances by the supporting cast, and a script that was touching, sad, haunting, thoughtful, heart-breaking, evocative, daring, funny, and moving, just to name a few.  : )

However, it never could’ve gotten off the ground without the 2 outstanding, unrestrained performances by Heath & Jake. While I thought they were both very good, I found Heath’s performance to be so incredibly moving.  I saw myself in Ennis so often while watching that it was frightening.  So many of Ennis' qualities exist in me.  And I think that’s why the movie works so well. Whether you’re gay, straight, married, single, whatever... both characters (Ennis especially for me) can be found in just about all of us, if not the other way around. You relate to these guys, thier shortcomings, their foibles, their yearnings, and fear; you may have even had exact or similar experiences that they did.  They are 2 regular guys who could be anyone on the street.  Sure, I knew what the movie was about before I saw it but I didn't buy into all that "gay cowboy movie" tripe.  In my mind, it was simply two guys who happened to be cowboys, who happened to find love, with each other.  End of story.  And because it is that simple makes the story that much more engaging, engrossing, and enveloping.

So, when the last few, gut-wrenching scenes were playing out, I was just a blubbery mess, crying here, sobbing there, the screen a watery blur. I hadn't read the short story, but I had seen the 30-second Bunnies “flick” before I saw the movie and I knew something happened to one of the 2 leads but I couldn’t remember who. And thinking that this was “the hook” of the movie (a beautiful love affair, a tragic ending, the old Hollywood cliche), I was absolutely & completely unprepared for Ennis’ discovery of the 2 bloodied shirts. It was just crushing to see Ennis realize that despite all of Jack & Ennis’ need to keep their life together a secret, and that even though Ennis didn’t want to be with Jack as Jack wanted, here Jack kept these 2 shirts as a reminder of their time, commitment, and love they shared together. And in that brief scene where Ennis is clutching the shirts and breathing in what I can only assume was Jack’s scent on Jack’s blue shirt, you could see Ennis collapse inside, almost even more than when he got the postcard or when he talked with Lureen.

I've heard people mention that when Ennis finds both shirts, he says “I love you”. I’ve replayed the scene a few times but haven’t been able to hear it. But, it really doesn’t matter. You KNOW he loved Jack, and that Jack loved Ennis. You see it in what they experienced; how they experienced it; the look in & on each other’s faces. And it's not just the sex, but in all of the facets of their lives together and/or apart. The fact that Jack kept both shirts proves how much Ennis meant to Jack. How much Jack loved Ennis. It was a reminder for Jack of a time when everything was so less complicated for both of them. And unlike Jack, up until this point there was nothing that Ennis had in his possession that showed his love for Jack. Until the very last scene.

And thus the point of my posting. When Ennis finds the two shirts, his checkered shirt is underneath Jack’s blue shirt; the sleeves of Ennis’ shirt actually inside the sleeves of Jack’s shirt. If you believe that this was Jack’s doing and not Jack’s mother (if she happened to come across the shirts and thought they were both Jack’s given the blood was in the same spot) then it was almost a way of Jack “covering”, “holding”, or better yet “embracing” Ennis, almost saying ‘I love you’.

At least, that’s how I read it as the very final scene was played out. When Ennis is putting away Alma Jr.’s shirt (another dose of symbolism there), you see both shirts again except this time it’s Ennis’ shirt covering Jack’s.  It was, in my mind, Ennis’ way of saying he loved Jack too, without verbalizing it. And the tears in his eyes were another telling aspect to my interpretation of the shirts.

In any event, with a movie that was rich in symbolism and ambiguous scenes, this view could simply be all in my mind, and how I view the shirts, but maybe it isn’t as ambiguous as I think and the overlapping of the shirts is/was deliberate. In the end, it was this that I found to be just about the most impactful element of the movie, evidence of everything Jack already knew and wanted to share; what Ennis knew but couldn't say or always express; and one, if not THE, main point of the movie: Simply, love.  That love is unbreakable, undeniable, heart-wrenching, ever-lasting, surprising, unexpected, and most importantly... POSSIBLE.  No matter with whom it may be with.

Everything about this movie continues to haunt me.  Especially those first 4 guitar notes as they play when Ennis opens his closet at the end of the movie.  And there always seems to be something in my daily routine that reminds me of something from the movie.  And when something does, I think of that last scene of Ennis and his "Jack, I swear..." line and those tear-filled eyes of his, and my heart flutters, my stomach drops, and tear slides down my cheek.  It's almost like my heart is bruised!  Anyone else feel like this?  No other movie has ever affected me or stayed with me like BBM has!  None!  And I think that's awesome!  That to me is how you tell a good story from a bad one!

So, my unending standing "O" to Ang Lee and the incredible, amazing talent that crafted this film!  Kudos to all involved (especially robbed-of-his-Oscar Heath Ledger) for making a masterpiece that is poignant, haunting, and simply unforgettable!
Blanche: "I don't really mind Clayton being homosexual.  I don't just don't like him dating men!  Surely there are homosexuals who date women?"
Sophia: "Yeah.  They're called lesbians!"

Offline alec716

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • Brokeback Got Me Good
  • *****
  • Posts: 410
Re: The Love of Two Shirts
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2006, 08:38:12 pm »
Welcome, moviegoer -- you are in good company here!  Read around the posts and threads and you will feel like one of the BetterMost family.  enjoy.
"... he is suffused with a sense of pleasure because Jack Twist was in his dream."

Offline Meryl

  • BetterMost Supporter
  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 12,195
  • There's no reins on this one....
Re: The Love of Two Shirts
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2006, 09:53:26 pm »
Thanks for a great first post, moviegoer!  You belong here, that's clear.  :)

After months of posting in great detail about our beloved movie, it's very gratifying to read the thoughts of someone who is still in the first flush of experiencing its emotional after-effects.  The importance of the shirts is unquestionable, and you write very beautifully about it.  I agree that this would not be the movie it is without Heath and Jake, but even more, I think it is Ang Lee's purity, economy and uncompromising search for the truth that makes this a film for the ages.

I hope you enjoy the wonderful variety and community that is BetterMost, and welcome!  :)
Ich bin ein Brokie...

Offline OldeSoul

  • Sr. Ranch Hand
  • ***
  • Posts: 53
Re: The Love of Two Shirts
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2006, 10:08:51 pm »
That was lovely, moviegoer! I knew I'd cry as soon as I saw your subject title. I first saw it three months ago and I'm still a wreck- so I understand what you mean by sobbing all over the place.

And I think you're very correct in saying that there's Ennis and/or Jack in all of us. They're almost archetypal characters. I know when I watch it- I cannot believe how much of myself I see in Jack, just like you see yourself in Ennis. Isn't it amazing?

I don't know if you've ever seen the discussions talking about the old Chinese poem that begins "O that blue, blue shirt of yours, Remains with my heart intertwined..." but it's a lovely addition to the already rich symbolism of those two shirts.
Who cares where we go on this rugged old road- in a world that may say that we're wrong?

Offline moviegoer

  • Don't Say Much
  • *
  • Posts: 7
Re: The Love of Two Shirts
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2006, 10:13:24 pm »
Thanks Alec, Meryl!  I'm really glad to be here!   ;D

What's interesting is that I must've checked BBM out of the library at least 4 times(!) before I finally watched it.  I'm not sure why.  I guess just knowing what the story was about didn't compel me to pop it in the DVD player and view it.  I just figured it was Butch & Sundance in the 21st Century with a gay twist.  Nothing that was going to set the world on fire.  While I'm not one for cowboy flicks (cowboys are different matter, tho  :D) I guess I just had to be in the mood.  And man am I glad I finally was!

I hope I'm not the only person who can't seem to shake the impact these 2 wayward lives had on each other, and those around them!?  Seriously, I sometimes just think of that final scene and I'm just a tearful mess, and then I go all melancholly!  I sometimes can't even concentrate on anything else.  It's weird!   :)    That's why I'm mesmerized by this movie.  I want to watch it again, but then I start remembering those last few scenes and it's just too painful!  And there has never been a movie out there that has kept me from watching it just because it effected me so much.  I can't wait to read the other posts here!  Something tells me I may not be as alone in my feelings towards this move as I thought.  ;D
Blanche: "I don't really mind Clayton being homosexual.  I don't just don't like him dating men!  Surely there are homosexuals who date women?"
Sophia: "Yeah.  They're called lesbians!"

Offline moviegoer

  • Don't Say Much
  • *
  • Posts: 7
Re: The Love of Two Shirts
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2006, 10:25:16 pm »
I hunted down that poem, OldeSoul!  WOW!  That is one of the most beautiful pieces I've read in a long, long time!!  So, so perfect for this movie!  Encompass that with everything else BBM had to offer?  I'm just going to say it.  Ang Lee is a genius!!!   ;D

The shirts just about cap the movie for me.  A final brushstroke of a masterpiece that just speaks so many things in such an inanimate object.  I mean, I can't tell you the number of items I've "stolen" from an ex just so that I could keep their memory alive with me.   ;D  So, I can easily see Jack & Ennis' motives here.  But I probably shouldn't hang myself up on the shirts though; I do get that lump in my throat when I think about them, which sends me over the edge to weepy town...    Yeesh.  Is there a support group for romantic suckers like us?   ;D
Blanche: "I don't really mind Clayton being homosexual.  I don't just don't like him dating men!  Surely there are homosexuals who date women?"
Sophia: "Yeah.  They're called lesbians!"

Offline alec716

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • Brokeback Got Me Good
  • *****
  • Posts: 410
Re: The Love of Two Shirts
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2006, 10:26:50 pm »
I hope I'm not the only person who can't seem to shake the impact these 2 wayward lives had on each other, and those around them!? 

44,488 posts and counting should help convince you that you are not the only one, by a long shot!   ;)   glad to know you, moviegoer!
"... he is suffused with a sense of pleasure because Jack Twist was in his dream."

Offline alec716

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • Brokeback Got Me Good
  • *****
  • Posts: 410
Re: The Love of Two Shirts
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2006, 10:28:40 pm »
Is there a support group for romantic suckers like us?   ;D

um, yeah, it's called BetterMost.net !  Welcome to the family.
"... he is suffused with a sense of pleasure because Jack Twist was in his dream."

Offline jpwagoneer1964

  • BetterMost 1000+ Posts Club
  • ******
  • Posts: 1,720
  • Me and my 1951 DeSoto Suburban
Re: The Love of Two Shirts
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2006, 11:58:47 am »

 

I've heard people mention that when Ennis finds both shirts, he says “I love you”. I’ve replayed the scene a few times but haven’t been able to hear it. But, it really doesn’t matter. You KNOW he loved Jack, and that Jack loved Ennis. You see it in what they experienced; how they experienced it; the look in & on each other’s faces. And it's not just the sex, but in all of the facets of their lives together and/or apart. The fact that Jack kept both shirts proves how much Ennis meant to Jack. How much Jack loved Ennis. It was a reminder for Jack of a time when everything was so less complicated for both of them. And unlike Jack, up until this point there was nothing that Ennis had in his possession that showed his love for Jack. Until the very last scene.

And thus the point of my posting. When Ennis finds the two shirts, his checkered shirt is underneath Jack’s blue shirt; the sleeves of Ennis’ shirt actually inside the sleeves of Jack’s shirt. If you believe that this was Jack’s doing and not Jack’s mother (if she happened to come across the shirts and thought they were both Jack’s given the blood was in the same spot) then it was almost a way of Jack “covering”, “holding”, or better yet “embracing” Ennis, almost saying ‘I love you’.

At least, that’s how I read it as
In the closet scene Ennis does say "I love you". It is just a wisper and can be seen more the heard just before the scene is cut to the kitchen. The shirts cover most of his mouth but you can see it as well.
Thank you Heath and Jake for showing us Ennis and Jack,  teaching us how much they loved one another.

Offline whiteoutofthemoon

  • Jr. Ranch Hand
  • **
  • Posts: 34
Re: The Love of Two Shirts
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2006, 12:16:13 pm »
great thoughts, moviegoer!     The first time I saw the movie, I knew that the shirt scene was coming, simply because it was in the trailer, and you knew something sad and tragic was around that situation.  So at first I thought it was rather predictable.    But what came as a devastating surprise was Ennis finding his own shirt inside Jack's shirt.....   I thought I was good at predicting movie outcomes, but that one blew me away!     It was like " that's his shirt!!".....  and of course you think back to the departure scene when he mentions incidentally that he lost his shirt on the mountain....   and it's like..."wow!".   And then you get the whole significance of it, that somehow Jack had a suspicion that he would have to say goodbye when they came down from the mountain, and, in an act of preparation, if not desperation,  decided to hide away Ennis' shirt as the only momento he would have of that summer.   No pictures, no letters, nothing else from that summer, except that shirt.   Another poignant reminder also that Ennis came to the mountain with very little of his own personal possessions in that little bag, so there wasn't really much for Jack to sneak away that belonged to Ennis to begin with.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2006, 02:57:32 am by whiteoutofthemoon »
"They were respectful of each other's opinions, each glad to have a companion where none had been expected.  Ennis, riding against the wind back to the sheep in the treacherous, drunken light, thought he'd never had such a good time, felt he could paw the whiteoutofthemoon."