Author Topic: You shut up about Ennis - this ain't (all) his fault  (Read 82804 times)

Offline serious crayons

  • Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 19,958
Re: Hello - I'm new here
« Reply #40 on: June 28, 2006, 03:22:12 am »
I think JakeTwist's thread title is excellent (and kudos to JakeTwist for suggesting it, since if understand her correctly -- and I know, Jane, you'll correct me if I'm wrong -- she's been known to argue more or less the opposite position on that point; but she is very open-minded :D  :-*).

Ruthlessly, you can change the subject line the same way you change the text of a post. In other words, go back to your original post and click "modify" at the top, then write the new title in. You might consider adding "(Formerly, 'Hello - I'm new here')" for clarification.

To insert a link to a thread, copy the thread's URL and paste it into your post. Then highlight the URL in your post and click the icon above with the little globe on it, which will automatically put "url" and "/url" in brackets around the URL (or you can write that coding in manually).

Back to your previous post, Ruthlessly, and your analysis of why Ennis doesn't recognize that he loves Jack. Your individual arguments make sense, but overall I respectfully disagree about what they add up to. That comes from my belief that Ennis is, well, hypocritical. When he says "You know I ain't queer," he is only slightly more sincere than Jack saying "Me neither" -- and Jack isn't sincere at all (he's just trying to calm Ennis). They're both posturing. Ennis holds an image in his mind of "queerness" and all the unappealing things he connects with that term and wants disassociate from. But deep down he knows full well he's attracted to Jack and to men in general -- he's may have been desperately repressing it for years because he's ashamed of it, but it hasn't escaped his own notice -- and he understands what that implies. (We see him in the act of repression in the scene where Jack momentarily loses control of the crow-hopping horse and then rides away, and Ennis leans out to check him out as he rides off, then half a second later catches himself and turns back to the dishes.)

When he tells Jack about his fears of what would happen if "this thing ... grabs hold of us" it's because he doesn't trust himself to keep his feelings hidden and controlled. And with good reason -- he failed to do just that in the parking lot the day before. And years later, when he asks whether Jack worries about people in town and out on the pavement "knowing," it's an indication that Ennis himself "knows."

As for love, though I think it's possible for people to fail to recognize other people's love when it's under their noses, I don't think I agree that people often fail to recognize their own love. It's such an intense, thrilling, painful, overwhelming feeling -- hard to ignore. It grabs hold of you! In the wrong place and wrong time! It can make you cry in an alley, pine for somebody for four f'in years, get all excited when you think you'll finally see them, sit there all day peering out a window, take the stairs two at a time and throw yourself into their arms, risk alienating your wife, risk losing your job, risk people finding out the one thing you can't face anybody knowing. And despite all these dangers you light up with joy when you come in contact with the person you love. It contradicts my understanding of human nature to think of people behaving in all those ways without noticing they're doing it and guessing what it all adds up to, whatever name they choose to give it.

So I think what Ennis realizes at the end is that he shouldn't have let his fear and shame stand in the way of his love for Jack, that he should have honored that love rather than tried to hide it and follow society's rules. That's why the question he asks Alma Jr. is whether this Kurt fella loves her. He has come to see that love outweighs all other considerations.

Ennis conquered this bear (OMT, Ennis' fears) by defiantly walking past him, determinedly holding Jack (the shirts), sort of in public.

Great point. I have noticed that he sort of protectively shelters the shirts when he walks past OMT. Which is significant in itself -- it's his way of protecting Jack. But visiting the Twists is sort of Ennis' coming out, and defiantly walking past Mr. Twist with shirts in hand, sheltering but not hiding them, is a good way to illustrate that he can finally, to some extent, under extreme circumstances anyway, face the prospect that people "know."
« Last Edit: June 28, 2006, 03:35:50 am by latjoreme »

ruthlesslyunsentimental

  • Guest
Re: Here's a suggestion for re-naming the thread
« Reply #41 on: June 28, 2006, 03:36:08 am »
How about "It wasn't all Ennis' fault after all"   :D  ;)


JakeTwist won the "Re-Name Ruthlessly's First Post" Contest!  (Although I did like "Gone With Jack's Wind"...)

With honorable mention to latjoreme for the "formerly" part!

You may pick up your prizes at Don Wroe's cabin anytime in the next four f-in' years.  A lifetime supply of BetterMost Beans -- the Brokeback Treat!



 :laugh:      ;D      :D      :laugh:
« Last Edit: June 28, 2006, 04:24:38 am by ruthlesslyunsentimental »

Offline welliwont

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • Brokeback Got Me Good
  • *****
  • Posts: 805
Re: Here's a suggestion for re-naming the thread
« Reply #42 on: June 28, 2006, 03:59:06 am »

Finally, to everyone... Is JakeTwist's thread title OK with everyone?  And just HOW do I change the thread title?  And, how do I insert a link to a thread into a post?



I'll tell you how Ruthie:

Since you are the author of the OP (original post) you can modify it at any time.  All you have to do is click on it, and modify it!  I am flattered that you liked my suggestion, kinda like I wrote the whole OP, right?  LOLOL!   ;) :D ;D :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:



The fact that Ennis didn’t verbally respond to "Sometimes I miss you so much..." always bugged me.


I have always felt the same way, exactly the same way!!!.  I have posted about this before in fact...  Ruthie you and I see eye to eye on just about every aspect of this masterpiece, except for one or two little things...

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


#1:  this is sooo minor, I am almost embarassed to bring it up, but...  why do you say Ennis' fears are being magnified and his paranoia is increasing?

Jack, through his failure at this point, set them up for twenty years of Ennis’ fears being magnified and his paranoia increasing, until it got to the point that it could not be overcome.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



#2:  I think your whole OP is awsome, and I think it is near-indisputable, even if I have not been able to find the time to read all the replies to it yet... every f'n day!!

I am the Continuity Director of Broke Arsed Mountain, doncha-know!!!

but please to explain, (and maybe you can!) how the following scene fits together with your masterful analysis, I think there is some contradiction happenin' here, no?

If they were trying to keep up the pretense, then how does that reconcile with a prior camping trip when Ennis asks Jack does her ever get the feeling that people "know"  -- ok now that is yet another line you and I can discuss back and forth Katherine, because to me Ennis' saying that is kind of an admission that there is someting to "know".

Does Ennis think that people "know" that he does things with his best bud Jack?

or

is he thinking that they "know" that he is homosexual?

If it is the latter, then why does he blow up at Jack during the fight "All them things that I don't know, could get you killed if I should come to know 'em"?  Because that line has been explained to me as:  the reason Enns blows a gasket is bcz if Jack goes to Mexico to visit male prostitutes that makes Jack gay, and if Jack is gay ergo Ennis is gay too.

Huhmmmm.



« Last Edit: June 28, 2006, 05:05:28 am by JakeTwist »
Then the clouds opened up and God said, "I hate you, Alfafa."

ruthlesslyunsentimental

  • Guest
Re: Hello - I'm new here
« Reply #43 on: June 28, 2006, 04:20:10 am »

Back to your previous post, Ruthlessly, and your analysis of why Ennis doesn't recognize that he loves Jack. Your individual arguments make sense, but overall I respectfully disagree about what they add up to. That comes from my belief that Ennis is, well, hypocritical. When he says "You know I ain't queer," he is only slightly more sincere than Jack saying "Me neither" -- and Jack isn't sincere at all (he's just trying to calm Ennis). They're both posturing. Ennis holds an image in his mind of "queerness" and all the unappealing things he connects with that term and wants disassociate from. But deep down he knows full well he's attracted to Jack and to men in general -- he's may have been desperately repressing it for years because he's ashamed of it, but it hasn't escaped his own notice -- and he understands what that implies. (We see him in the act of repression in the scene where Jack momentarily loses control of the crow-hopping horse and then rides away, and Ennis leans out to check him out as he rides off, then half a second later catches himself and turns back to the dishes.)

Yes.  I agree.  But, I'll also add that for every scene and for every line there is almost always text, subtext, and metaphor.  I think what you have pointed out about the "queer" comments is a take on the text, and I agree with that.  But I take it a little more as metaphor for his fears running throughout the film.  I also think that there's two parts to Jack's "Me neither" response.  I think in one way he knows what to say and what not to say to Ennis, but I also think he also believes, to an extent, what he is saying.  I don’t feel that at this stage he's "out."  He's not yet 20.  And he's a dreamer.  I just don’t see him as being that grounded at this point.  He's gone through the same things as Ennis has, as all teenage boys have, with regards to "queer" comments -- the ultimate putdown from one teenage male to another.  Very few, if any, teenagers of that time and place would have been able to  completely dismiss the messages pumped into them by their peers.  Jack's got issues too.


Quote
When he tells Jack about his fears of what would happen if "this thing ... grabs hold of us" it's because he doesn't trust himself to keep his feelings hidden and controlled. And with good reason -- he failed to do just that in the parking lot the day before. And years later, when he asks whether Jack worries about people in town and out on the pavement "knowing," it's an indication that Ennis himself "knows."

But "know" what?  That he IS a homosexual?  I just can't go there.  He's in constant denial.  When he speaks of people "knowing," I believe, that to Ennis it means people "knowing that WE do this stuff that we're not supposed to be doing."

Now, I do believe that Ennis is gay.  But, it's hard to disagree with those who say that the film paints a pretty good picture of Ennis as a man who happened to fall in love with another man.  I really think that Ennis believes with all his might that his "thing" with Jack is a "thing" JUST with Jack.   

I complexly agree with the first two sentences of the quoted part.


Quote
As for love, though I think it's possible for people to fail to recognize other people's love when it's under their noses, I don't think I agree that people often fail to recognize their own love. It's such an intense, thrilling, painful, overwhelming feeling -- hard to ignore. It grabs hold of you! In the wrong place and wrong time! It can make you cry in an alley, pine for somebody for four f'in years, get all excited when you think you'll finally see them, sit there all day peering out a window, take the stairs two at a time and throw yourself into their arms, risk alienating your wife, risk losing your job, risk people finding out the one thing you can't face anybody knowing. And despite all these dangers you light up with joy when you come in contact with the person you love. It contradicts my understanding of human nature to think of people behaving in all those ways without noticing they're doing it and guessing what it all adds up to, whatever name they choose to give it.


This, to me, is the crux of the argument.  I agree completely with all you said here.  But when we get to "whatever name they choose to give it," that's where we need to look at the name Ennis chose to give it.  He called it a "thing."  He didn't say "love."  I believe that this is because Ennis just is not capable of understanding just what it is ... or better put, that he is just not in a place in his life, in his development, to understand just what it is.  I believe that comes later... Cassie, Lureen, OMT, the shirts, Junior.  In my normal daily speech when I cannot think of the word that I know is what I want to use, I say "thing" or "stuff" and I let it stand on its own.  Ennis used the word "thing" because he couldn’t figure out what the right word would be.  Remember, he knew the word "queer."  But he certainly didn't say "When we get queer with each other..."


Quote
So I think what Ennis realizes at the end is that he shouldn't have let his fear and shame stand in the way of his love for Jack, that he should have honored that love rather than tried to hide it and follow society's rules. That's why the question he asks Alma Jr. is whether this Kurt fella loves her. He has come to see that love outweighs all other considerations.

I respect this interpretation ... can you see my big BUT coming?  Buuuutttt...   :laugh:   Isn't this an enormous leap from where he was a little while ago?  I've certainly admitted that I think he experiences some understanding and some change (starting with Cassie and her light switch), but... we are talking about Ennis here after all.  No doubt he is suffused with regret.  No doubt he will cry and feel sick to his stomach.  And I have said that at the Jack's closet moment is when I believe that he has come to realize that Jack "loved" him... and I'll even go so far as to say that Ennis even admits to himself, in his deepest, darkest, quietest place that he loved Jack.  After all, it's generally agreed that the final trailer scene is something like six months after the Jack's closet scene (Jack's closet being before November and final trailer being the next Spring) and yet he still acted with his standard knee-jerk reaction to Alma's desire to have him at her wedding.  He's learning, no doubt, but he's still Ennis Del Mar.  (Have I earned my user name yet?)      ;)


Quote
But visiting the Twists is sort of Ennis' coming out, and defiantly walking past Mr. Twist with shirts in hand, sheltering but not hiding them, is a good way to illustrate that he can finally, to some extent, under extreme circumstances anyway, face the prospect that people "know."

I agree.  But you'd better watch out there.  With all of those qualifications (finally, to some extent, under extreme circumstances) you're sounding like me.      ;D

Offline welliwont

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • Brokeback Got Me Good
  • *****
  • Posts: 805
Re: Hello - I'm new here
« Reply #44 on: June 28, 2006, 04:55:54 am »

...since if understand her correctly -- and I know, Jane, you'll correct me if I'm wrong -- she's been known to argue more or less the opposite position on that point; but she is very open-minded :D  :-*).


Yeah, you're right on the money there Katherine!  (Actually, it's all part of my master plan, get Ruthie to re-name her OP, and then volley and lambast that heretic thread!!!  It's all a trick!)

Anyway K & R, it's past my bedtime, cu later, aren't you glad you've found each other, you two go together like milk and water!! 8) :D

ttyl,

J
Then the clouds opened up and God said, "I hate you, Alfafa."

Offline welliwont

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • Brokeback Got Me Good
  • *****
  • Posts: 805

I wonder if those of us who do find ourselves defending him more often and vehemently than we do Ennis do that because we relate more to having been rejected than having been abandoned?

Hi Barb:

I know I'm late in replying to this, but just to let you know:  your theory is dead accurate in my case.  I totally relate to Jack (is it maybe a bit obvious, y'think?)   ;D for the reason that you state.

J
Then the clouds opened up and God said, "I hate you, Alfafa."

ruthlesslyunsentimental

  • Guest
Re: Here's a suggestion for re-naming the thread
« Reply #46 on: June 28, 2006, 05:54:18 am »

Ruthie you and I see eye to eye on just about every aspect of this masterpiece, except for one or two little things...

Uh-oh......


Quote
#1:  this is sooo minor, I am almost embarassed to bring it up, but...  why do you say Ennis' fears are being magnified and his paranoia is increasing?

His true fear was first expressed to Jack in the Earl/Rich story – as a simple “no” to Jack’s live together suggestion.
Post-divorce scene -- He sees the white truck go by and he’s obviously paranoid about being seen way out at that lonely little ranch with Jack… even though nine out of ten people did not know where Ennis lived.
Then he gets “outted” by Alma.  Someone knows.  He goes out on the pavement and gets beat up… a beating he brought on and a beating in which he didn’t fight as elegantly as Fireworks Ennis did.
Then the river-washing coffeepot scene  -- He expresses his paranoia.  First he asks about “someone” knowing, and then he magnifies it to “everyone” knowing (out on the pavement) – He translated Alma’s knowing (one person) to everyone knowing (the driver) … on the pavement … and he expresses this in his two questions to Jack about people “knowing.”
All of this shows his increasing fear and paranoia.  (Fear is his controlling emotion.)
(This is also the tie-in to the scene where he's raking tar -- pavement -- and the older man says "break" and "back."  Ennis looks off into the distance.  Not wistfully remembering Jack (that may be a small part of it), but having a slight paranoia attack about someone mentioning that place where things seemed so normal, but wouldn't be to the guy raking next to him.)
This all culminates in the final lake scene where all of his greatest fear is brought to the surface and he’s confronted with it.  And it’s such an emotional turmoil for him, that he breaks down.


Quote
#2 ... but please to explain, (and maybe you can!) how the following scene fits together with your masterful analysis, I think there is some contracdiction happenin' here, no?

If they were trying to keep up the pretense, then how does that reconcile with a prior camping trip when Ennis asks Jack does her ever get the feeling that people "know"  -- ok now that is yet another line you and I can discuss back and forth Katherine, because to me Ennis' saying that is kind of an admission that there is someting to "know".

Does Ennis think that people "know" that he does things with his best bud Jack?

or

is he thinking that they "know" that he is homosexual?

If it is the latter, then why does he blow up at Jack during the fight "All them things that I don't know, could get you killed if I should come to know 'em"?  Because that line has been explained to me as:  the reason Enns blows a gasket is bcz if Jack goes to Mexico to visit male prostitutes that makes Jack gay, and if Jack is gay ergo that means Ennis is gay too.

Huhmmmm.

First, the analysis in #2 is excellent.

The key point in the river-washing coffeepot scene is the word "know."  As you know, it's continued in the final lake scene.  I don't believe that Ennis will admit to being homosexual.  His fear is his controlling emotion.  I don’t believe he admits it to himself.  All of this goes back to the pact they made on the mountain.  "I'm not queer."  "Me neither."  This is a pact between them that these behaviors of theirs can continue, but it can't be called "queer."  Ennis' greatest fear is being queer ... being found out to be queer ... and all that that would mean (for example, deserving of death in some people's minds, including his father's – and he once said he thought his father was right.  This was not a throw-away line.  Nor was it relegated to its simple text.  It had a subtext that would carry through to the Earl/Rich story.  His father’s hatred was taught to Ennis, Ennis learned it, and he thought it was right, his father was right).

He asks about people knowing ... about things being "normal" with Lureen.  These two questions are linked for they define each other.  What people know is "what is normal."  And, what people know is "what isn't normal."  He's asking Jack about whether Jack thinks people "know" that they are doing things that aren't "normal."  He's telling Jack that he's worried that people "know" that they're doing what they're doing.  He's asking whether Lureen "knows" about something that isn't quite "normal."  Yes, he absolutely knows that what they're doing is not "normal."  But to him, it's just "this thing" grabbing them.  It's not that they're queer.  But something grabs them and makes them do this thing that isn't "normal."

This is why I believe the explanation from the quote about why Ennis blows up.  It's not about jealousy.  It’s about his fear.  Fear is Ennis' controlling emotion.  Not jealousy.  If Jack has gone to Mexico to get what they have there for boys like Jack, then that would make Jack queer.  That would break their pact.  That would make Ennis queer.  And that is his greatest fear. 

(Side note on “The Pact” -- When Ennis and Jack made their pact, it was Ennis who spoke its terms.  He spoke out of his fear.  It’s a fear-based pact.  And Jack realizes this at the post-divorce scene.  Remember, at the reunion river scene Ennis told Jack about Earl/Rich.  Jack got a glimpse into Ennis’ fear.  But not just how strong it was.  Notice that they continue seeing each other happily for quite a while before the divorce.  The “You’re late” scene has no real dialogue.  It’s there to show us that they’re happily meeting each other every so often.  To Jack, it’s this way because Ennis is married, so Jack goes with this arrangement.  To Ennis, it’s this way because of his fear.  Then at the post-divorce scene, Jack drives up looking all perky and Ennis shoots him down – with the excuse of his girls, but we see, as does Jack, the fear in Ennis when the white truck drives by.  Here, Jack realizes how great a hold fear has on Ennis.  And he says f it and he goes to Mexico.  Jack breaks the pact because he knows it’s fear-based and it’s a lie.)

When Ennis exploded with the bikers, when he exploded with Alma, when he exploded with Jack, it was all about being confronted by his greatest fear -- him being queer.  This is a continuation of the bear metaphor -- Ennis confronting his fears and being thrown.  This is why the bear incident happened immediately after the Basque said "It's too early [in the summer]."  Metaphorically, the Basque was saying that "you're ordering soup -- you're trying to please Jack because you're falling in love with him -- BUT you're not ready for it yet, Ennis.  It's too early for you."  Then Ennis encounters the bear, his fears, and look what it does to him.  He gets thrown and wounded.  Just as he was thrown and wounded by the truck driver immediately after his "bear" confrontation with Alma at her Thanksgiving Spectacular.

As a side note, one must also remember the context of when and how Ennis lashes out at Jack.  Ennis offered "good times" to Jack (to assuage him for not being available in August).  Jack was intransigent.  Ennis asked whether Jack had a better idea and Jack replied "I did once."  What did he mean?  Mexico?  Hardly.  Does anyone believe that Jack thought that Mexico was a better idea?  No.  Jack meant "I had a better idea once -- you and me living together."  And Ennis understood that that's what Jack meant.  I don’t doubt that at that moment when Ennis asked the question he knew what the answer was going to be and he said to himself "Oops... I shouldn’t have opened that can of worms again.  Here comes the old "let's live together" spiel."  So what does Ennis do?  He deflects and puts Jack on the defensive with the question about Mexico.  Jack goes along with it and allows Ennis to vent.  But then, when it's Jack’s turn, what does he go right back to?  More about Mexico?  No.  He says that they could have had a good life together.  But Ennis didn’t want it. Ennis gets what he deserves here.  THEN Jack goes back to the subtext of Mexico... getting what he hardly ever gets, what he needs.  And Ennis is smacked upside the head with the reality of Jack being queer.  Which, in Ennis' mind, makes Ennis queer.  Thus, his finally coming as close as ever to acknowledging his "queerness" (I'm nothin', I’m nowhere and it's because of my queerness for you Jack) resulting in his massive breakdown -- a bookend to his breakdown after they parted 20 years ago at Jack's truck.

In a way, Jack turned out to be the biggest bear of all.

For the record, this is only my opinion (obviously).  I’m always willing to listen to counterarguments and refutations.  And I have been known to change my mind.  But if I still think I’m on the right track, I’m not afraid to keep going.

Offline ednbarby

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • BetterMost 1000+ Posts Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,586
Hi Barb:

I know I'm late in replying to this, but just to let you know:  your theory is dead accurate in my case.  I totally relate to Jack (is it maybe a bit obvious, y'think?)   ;D for the reason that you state.

J

Thanks for that answer, Jane.  I'm vascillating, myself.  It apparently doesn't always apply.  I was even thinking last night that it might not really apply to me.  But when I really looked, and hard, at my life and at all the close relationships I've had, mostly with boys and men, but also with my mother and my couple of long-term female friends, rejection *is* a recurrent theme.  I *have* often felt marginalized by most of them - not fully accepted for exactly what I am.  Most of them are still there with me, but kind of pushing me into a corner all the while.  Come to think of it, of all those people, only my mother has loved me unconditionally and has known me completely, though I have loved and known many of the others that way.  Now, maybe other people don't need that unconditional acceptance as much as I think I yearn for it, so when they look hard at their relationships that haven't gone as well as they'd have liked, they don't see the cause of that as being misunderstood and underappreciated but as something else.
No more beans!

Offline dly64

  • Brokeback Got Me Good
  • *****
  • Posts: 708
Ruth - I heard about this thread from latjoreme and read your thoughtful essay. Needless to say, I watched BBM again for the 100th time or so (I am not exaggerating) and stayed up until 2 AM writing some thoughts down in response to your commentary. I hope I am not being repetitive as to what others have said. I have read through everything ... so I hope I can share a slightly different point of view. I am going to go down through your points because it helps me to organize my thoughts.

As a brief prelude .... I think I understand Jack's psyche better than Ennis'. Most of my thoughts come from the viewpoint of empathy for Jack.

I think it’s all about confusion, misreading each other, each guy not fully understanding himself let alone the other.  I think this day in the film is when Jack made the biggest mistakes of his life, mistakes that would haunt them both until the end.

To me, it’s all about their love for each other.  When did each fall in love with the other, when did each realize that he had fallen in love with the other, and when did each realize that the other had fallen in love with him?  These are the key questions.

When they first met, they checked each other out, on a couple of levels.  For example, before they went into Aguirre’s trailer, I think that Jack was looking at Ennis and wondering “Who is this guy who may be here to get MY job?”  Jack worked alone the summer before.  One job for one guy.  And, Jack knew that Aguirre had blamed Jack for the sheep loss the previous summer.  In the trailer, he looked relieved when Aguirre announced it was going to be a two-man job this summer.  But Jack also was checking Ennis out in an attraction sense – the shaving in the mirror shot.  And each stole a glance at the other during Aguirre’s phone call – at each “No.”

Then they go to the bar, Jack works his can opener and tries to get Ennis to open up.  Jack kept this up all the time on the mountain.  And Jack opened himself up to Ennis, even though Ennis hardly ever asked Jack a question that was related to who Jack was as a person.  Uninterested?  Hardly.  Ennis is the one who kept going out of his way to please Jack – trying to get soup, seasoning the food, checking out the tent, etc.  But Jack just went along with the flow. 

They each played courting games with the other -- Jack with his ‘yee-haw’ dance and his music, and Ennis with his opportunity comment.  They were both getting to know each other as friends, and their attraction was growing.  But I think with Ennis it was a love attraction that was growing based on what he did for Jack, and I think with Jack it was more of a sex attraction.  Jack initiated the sex in a really overt way.  I’m not surprised that the sex happened in the first tent scene, but I am surprised as to how Jack initiated it.  He could have gotten his clock cleaned and worse.

I see Jack's initiation as one of vulnerability. He carefully takes Ennis' hand and puts it on his cock. He could have easily been rejected. Jack made it clear that he was excited and that he was willing, wanting and able to have sex . But, it is Ennis who throws Jack down and it is Ennis who is in the dominant position. It is Ennis who pulls Jack's pants down. Another thing to note here is that they were both intoxicated, so their inhabitions were down. After the FNIT, it is Jack who comes out to Ennis and feels the pain of rejection (which, IMO, is a theme between Jack and Ennis throughout their relationship). Jack watches Ennis leave.

Quote
Then the “queer” scene… parameters were set up.  There’s disagreement on exactly what those parameters were, but they were limitations – for the time being, at least.  In the second tent scene, Ennis absolutely melted into Jack’s arms.  For him, not only had this great guy become his friend, but also his lover.  This is where I believe that Ennis fell in love with Jack.  Ennis had a specific point where it all changed for him – or it all culminated.  And Ennis is the one of them who weaved a love relationship for the rest of the time on the mountain.  He’s the one who made gestures and spoke certain words that show that he was in love and was building it further.  Jack was much more lackadaisical about it.  I don’t think this meant that Jack wasn’t experiencing love for Ennis, but I do think that Jack was so comfortable in the relationship, first as friends, and then as lovers, that he was just going with the flow.  So much so that I think Jack just had a natural assumption after some point that it would continue post-mountain.  I don’t think Ennis was even thinking of post-mountain.  He was so caught up in their private, idyllic home life that they had established.  This is why Ennis is the one who got smacked right between the eyes with reality when Aguirre told them to come down early.

Did either of them know the other was in love with him?  I don’t think Ennis would have called it “love.”  This is his character and it’s consistent throughout the movie.  Even at the final lake scene, he couldn’t admit “love,” and he tried to appease Jack with fun and “a good time” from previous times.  But not love.

I think that once Jack came to the point of realizing that he was in love with Ennis, that he just naturally felt that Ennis was in love with Jack.  And when did Jack realize that he had fallen in love with Ennis?  I believe at the dozy embrace.  I believe the dozy embrace took place after they untangled the Chilean sheep and immediately before Ennis spent the night in the pup tent, waking up to the snow.  I believe this is why Jack flashed back to this scene (from the final lake scene) – because it’s the moment he realized that he had fallen in love with Ennis.

IMO, the SNIT is when they both knew they loved each other (albeit Ennis could not admit that until 20 years later when it was too late). Both men are vulnerable in that beautiful scene. It is Jack who is nurturing Ennis. This is new territory for both of them (although I know there are Brokies who would disgree with that). This scene is a turning point for both Jack and Ennis. They have the freedom of the mountain to explore and develop their love for each other.

Quote
So now, Ennis wakes up in the snow, Aguirre comes by again to tell Jack to take the sheep down, Jack starts dismantling the camp, and Ennis returns to camp.  What does Ennis find?  He finds Jack taking down the home they had built together.  Notice that it appears Ennis did nothing at all to help take down the home that he himself (mainly) had set up for them… at least, after it had been set up, he’s the one who cared about the details.  And Ennis found Jack taking it down very nonchalantly.  And why shouldn’t he?  To Jack it wasn’t an ending.  He expected their relationship would continue.  Jack’s just that way… the natural flow.

But Ennis had not even taken time to think about their relationship post-mountain.  So he was smacked upside the head with reality.  He had no time for closure.  So he went off and sat first on the chopping block like a log waiting to be split, and then up on the mountainside to sit and think.  And think he did.  He did a lot of thinking – he’s a real thinker there -- probably more than he had done in the past year.

Then Jack, Jack who had just dismantled their life together, comes up and makes a game of it.  Sure, we all know Jack was just trying to get in a playful tussle, but it was the wrong time for it.  Ennis wasn’t ready for leaving the mountain and he had no idea what lay ahead in the real world for him, or for him and Jack.  So he lashed out at the object of his disillusionment (at that time) –- Jack.  This then threw Jack for a loop.  Now Jack was confused.  He didn’t understand what Ennis was going through.  For all Jack knew, Ennis was making a strong statement that he’s going back to the real world, and he’s a real man, and “get the f off of me” -- which Jack couldn’t understand because Jack had just the previous evening realized his love for Ennis, and believed that Ennis loved him.

Now this was a big mistake on Jack’s part.  But a bigger one was yet to come.

I think you make a lot of good points here. It does come down to how differently Jack and Ennis process leaving the mountain. As I stated above, however, the SNIT was piviotal for both and, IMO, that is when they both knew they loved each other.

It is Jack who approaches Ennis. It is also Jack who goes to Ennis and tries to comfort him after Ennis has the bloody nose. The punch in Jack's face symbolized another rejection from Ennis. Again, Ennis leaves Jack in pain.

Quote
When they got back to Jack’s truck, watch Ennis very closely.  Look at his body language and the few words he uses.  And remember he had just had the wind knocked out of him by having his life with Jack abruptly ended.  And, what did Ennis always allow Jack to do?  What did Ennis always WANT Jack to do?  Take the lead.  And this is where Jack made the biggest mistake of his life, this is where he failed Ennis the most.

Ennis had done a lot of thinking in those last few hours on the mountain.  He saw Jack dismantle their life together, he saw Jack make a game out of it, he saw Jack spit in front of him (spitting in the film always symbolizes a disgusting dismissal of someone or something that has just happened), and he saw Jack not take the lead at the truck scene.  Ennis was just begging for Jack to take the lead and to say something – ANYTHING – about their relationship.  Ennis needed this more than anything else. 

But Jack was confused (and rightly so) about their last few hours, too.  An he missed the big picture.  Jack didn’t know anything at this time about Ennis’ great fears.  Jack just made an assumption that their relationship would continue and that reality wouldn’t change it.  So Jack missed out on Ennis’ clues.  Jack didn’t see that Ennis was begging for Jack to take the lead.

Now, I’m not saying that had Jack taken the lead and said something that Ennis would have flown into Jack’s arms and said “Let’s live together, forever.”  No.  But, this was the point in the film where Ennis was his most available and where Ennis was at his most vulnerable.  If Jack had said something like “You and Alma, that’s a life?”, then  Ennis was at a point where he could have realized that and may have not gotten himself into that marriage.  They could have gone on the rodeo circuit together and had good cover for their relationship,  or they could have moved to another town besides Riverton and worked at separate ranches and gotten together as much more regular lovers while still not living together.  And this could have led to a lot of other building up of that foundation that was started on Brokeback Mountain, a building that they failed to complete.

I think you make a lot of excellent points. However, there are parts of your analogy that I vehemently oppose.

BBM symolized freedom from societal constraints. Annie says in her short story (and I think it sums up their experience on the mountain beautifully):

" .... only the two of them on the mountain, lying in a euphoric, bitter air, looking down on the hawk's back and the crawling lights of the vehicles on the plain below, suspended from ordinary affairs and distant from tame ranch dogs barking in the dark hours. They believed themselves invisible ....

Once they came down, societal mores were present. Ennis would have married Alma no matter what. Why? Because that was the  expectation ... from society and himself.

Jack is initiating his desire to be with Ennis when he asks, "Are you going to do this again next summer?" Again, Ennis rejects Jack. When Ennis says, "How about you?" Jack says, in a vulnerable way, "I might be back. If the army don't get me." The pain in Jack's face is palpable.

Ennis wished he would have never let Jack out of his sight, that is true. Ennis breaks down when he sees Jack leave and tries really hard to convince himself that he should not have these feelings for a man (i.e. Jack). But I don't think the outcome would have been any different. Ennis was too homophobic. Consider when Jack drives 14 hours to see Ennis after the divorce (in one of the most painful scenes of this film). Ennis is using excuses of his daily life, but his true motivation is evidenced when the truck drives by. He is fearful that someone will figure out that this man he is talking to is also his lover. Again, this scene represents another rejection.

Quote
But Jack failed to see what was going on.  He failed to see that he and Ennis were different.  And the impact of this was never fully realized until the final lake scene when he verbalized it to Ennis.  Jack is the one who should have taken the lead for closure and for continuance – in fact, Jack is the only one of the two who could have done this – and he failed.  Instead of being able to have a relationship with Ennis through which Ennis’ fears would have been dealt with for the next twenty years, Jack, through his failure at this point, set them up for twenty years of Ennis’ fears being magnified and his paranoia increasing, until it got to the point that it could not be overcome.

This is another point in which I have a divergent opinion. I don't think Ennis' fears would have ever been dealt with. The image of Earl was branded in his mind. That recollection is the ghost in the room ... it is always there. The mountains symbolized a way for him to escape that fear ... to believe he and Jack were "invisible". To have any kind of a life together outside of the realms of the mountainside would have been impossible for Ennis.

Quote
So, I believe that Ennis “fell in love” in the second tent scene, without ever admitting it to himself, and I believe that Jack fell in love over their time on the mountain, and came to realize it at the dozy embrace.  But when did each realize the other had fallen in love?  Twenty f-in’ years later.

Jack just assumed they were in love on the mountain, but due to the last day together and the way they parted, it seems that Jack didn’t know what to think.  And then four years later, he got the message that Ennis really did love him all along (the reunion kiss and the motel scene), but that was somehow skewed by Ennis’ denial of a life together at the reunion river scene.  And it kept getting worse, not better.  Until Ennis finally broke down at the final lake scene and told Jack that he was nothing, he was nowhere, and it’s because of Jack.  Jack finally understood what Ennis’ love for Jack had done to Ennis all these years.

And Ennis, when did he realize Jack loved him?  He got his first inkling of it from Cassie in the bus depot.  Ennis apologized for not being much fun and Cassie told Ennis that girls don’t fall in love with fun.  This is the connection to the previous final lake scene.  Fun.  “A good time.”  Ennis would never admit to himself that he loved Jack and he certainly wouldn’t want to admit to himself that Jack loved Ennis because that would make Jack queer and that would make Ennis queer and that would violate the pact they made up on the mountain – we ain’t queer.  No, Ennis thought it was all about fun and a good time.  But now he first sees that Jack wasn’t in it for fun – heck, it was hell for Jack – Jack was in it for love.  Cassie turned the light bulb on over Ennis’ head, she woke him up.  And this continues with Lureen telling Ennis that Brokeback Mountain was Jack’s favorite place.  And this continues with Old Man Twist telling Ennis that Jack talked about bringing Ennis up to the ranch.  AND this continues with Old Man Twist telling Ennis about the other guy – because now that Ennis has been getting the message that it wasn’t just about fun for Jack, he now gets the message that Jack was in it for love, and without Ennis’ love, Jack had to look elsewhere, just as he had had to look elsewhere for the “fun” part of it, the Mexican prostitute.

Where I do agree with you is when Ennis could admit he loved Jack ... it was at that final lake scene  (which ultimately was too late). I don't know, however, that either one of them was in it for "fun" or for the sex. Had it only been that, Ennis and Jack would have quit each other long before. The truth was that each one "completed" and understood the other (the whole yin yang concept) in a way they found with nobody else. They were each other's one-in-a-lifetime love (or soul mates, if you will). Jack goes to Mexico out of frustration and need. He beds down with Randall for the same reason (OT - notice how Jack reacts when Randall is talking to him. IMO, he is thinking of Ennis at that  moment .... missing him so much that he "can hardly stand it."). At any time, if Ennis would have said the word, Jack would have dropped everything and everyone to be with the man he loved. Despite all of the times Ennis said "no", Jack kept trying.  It is the final lake scene where I see Jack as resolved to the fact that he and Ennis will never have the life together that he had hoped for ("after all this time you never found anyone else to marry?") (OT - it is clear, at least for Ennis, that it is okay that each one has sex with women. Where Ennis draws the line is having sex with other men. That is why the whole "Mexico" revelation is so devasting to Ennis. He gave himself to Jack only - literaly and figuratively.)

When Ennis blames Jack for being the "way" he is .... he is denying his own sexuality. He is trying to come to grips that he loves this man. The reality is, it isn't Jack's fault or Ennis'. It is that they love each other and have no way to deal with it.

Quote
But the whole thing culminates in finding the two shirts.  From this moment on, there is no denying that Ennis has finally realized that what the two of them shared all along was love.  A love that was fully realized only when it was too late.

I completely agree with this statement. Finding those shirts is another heart wrenching scene. Later, when Ennis says, "Jack, I swear ....."  he is vowing his love for Jack ... almost a wedding vow. How painful and lonely. Why so late? "If only .... "

Now I have written a long winded response. I felt compelled to respond .... don't know why, I just did (as evidenced by my staying up until the crack of dawn knowing I needed to get up a few hours later).

I am interested in hearing other's point of view.
Diane

"We're supposed to guard the sheep, not eat 'em."

ruthlesslyunsentimental

  • Guest
I am going to go down through your points because it helps me to organize my thoughts.

I love you already!      :-*



I agree with just about everything you say.  You and I are seeing the same and different things all going on at once.  And I believe that they are all there.  I would never say that one particular scene only means (fill in the blank) or that when Ennis said "x" he only meant "y."  Every line and every scene has multiple layers.  I’m just pulling out those things that I think are significant to follow a thread through the film.  You're doing the same thing.  This is what I like about this film.

Anyway, a couple of points just for clarification...

Quote
As a brief prelude .... I think I understand Jack's psyche better than Ennis'. Most of my thoughts come from the viewpoint of empathy for Jack.

I understand this.  Most people either take an Ennis view or a Jack view.  I was Ennis for a good while, then I realized how I was shortchanging Jack and I pushed myself to look at everything from Jack’s point of view.  Then both of them.  Back here, over there, all around everywhere... So today I'd have to say I'm not an Ennis or a Jack, I'm both.


Quote
I see Jack's initiation as one of vulnerability. He carefully takes Ennis' hand and puts it on his cock.

I can see vulnerability here.  But taking a guy's hand and putting it "you know where"      ;)     is overt.


Quote
IMO, the SNIT is when they both knew they loved each other (albeit Ennis could not admit that until 20 years later when it was too late).

I think we see something similar here... but here, really well-defined terminology is important.   I can go with "they each fell in love" here.  But that's different from "they each knew they had fallen in love" and it's different from "each boy knew that the other guy loved him."

You've given (in a couple of places in your post) some examples of loving behaviors between them (as I have done in my post(s)).  Each of them displaying loving behaviors is consistent with "they each fell in love" but it is not necessarily consistent with "they each knew they had fallen in love" or with "each boy knew that the other guy loved him."  I don’t believe it’s correct to say that Ennis knew he loved Jack and then also to say that Ennis could not admit it.  It seems more consistent with the character developed in the film that Ennis did not understand what it was that was between the two of them.  To Ennis, love was a man and a woman getting married.  He didn’t understand that's it's not what one does on the surface, it's what one feels under the surface (example – the three options he gave to Jack at the final lake scene, contrasted with Cassie picking up on that and explaining it to him in the bus depot).  This was his big internal conflict -- always wanting to see Jack and do for Jack, but being unable to understand why.


Quote
They have the freedom of the mountain to explore and develop their love for each other.

Ummmmm... yes, they have the freedom to do this, and they do explore and develop their relationship (which is friendship and sexual)... but I can't tack on "their love for each other" because they don't understand their relationship this way.  WE, the viewers, understand it this way.  But the film does not portray them as understanding it this way.  That's one of the key plots of the film -- Ennis' inability to understand and process his feelings for Jack, his inability to correctly name those feelings.


Quote
BBM symolized freedom from societal constraints. Annie says in her short story (and I think it sums up their experience on the mountain beautifully):

" .... only the two of them on the mountain, lying in a euphoric, bitter air, looking down on the hawk's back and the crawling lights of the vehicles on the plain below, suspended from ordinary affairs and distant from tame ranch dogs barking in the dark hours. They believed themselves invisible ....

Once they came down, societal mores were present. Ennis would have married Alma no matter what. Why? Because that was the  expectation ... from society and himself.

Yes and no.  The reason they parted as they did is because of a failure to communicate, a failure to seek closure.  Had they done that, things could have been different.  As I said before, it's not that Ennis would have agreed to live together, but he was at his most vulnerable and he was at his most needy at that time.  In his position, at that time, he could have made a different choice and that different choice is not limited to only one option, them living together, it could be as simple as deciding not to marry Alma.


Quote
Jack is initiating his desire to be with Ennis when he asks, "Are you going to do this again next summer?" Again, Ennis rejects Jack. When Ennis says, "How about you?" Jack says, in a vulnerable way, "I might be back. If the army don't get me." The pain in Jack's face is palpable.

Exactly.  We know what Jack wanted.  But Jack was confused about what ENNIS wanted.  And Jack failed to take the lead here in a meaningful way that would have gotten them talking.


Quote
Ennis wished he would have never let Jack out of his sight, that is true. Ennis breaks down when he sees Jack leave and tries really hard to convince himself that he should not have these feelings for a man (i.e. Jack).

Yep.


Quote
But I don't think the outcome would have been any different. Ennis was too homophobic. Consider when Jack drives 14 hours to see Ennis after the divorce (in one of the most painful scenes of this film). Ennis is using excuses of his daily life, but his true motivation is evidenced when the truck drives by. He is fearful that someone will figure out that this man he is talking to is also his lover. Again, this scene represents another rejection.

But these are two different scenes.  In the first, Ennis is at his most vulnerable and without the excuses of marriage, children and job.  In the second, Ennis is not at his most vulnerable because he has the excuses of his children and his job (and just before this, he had the excuse of his marriage).


Quote
This is another point in which I have a divergent opinion. I don't think Ennis' fears would have ever been dealt with. The image of Earl was branded in his mind. That recollection is the ghost in the room ... it is always there. The mountains symbolized a way for him to escape that fear ... to believe he and Jack were "invisible". To have any kind of a life together outside of the realms of the mountainside would have been impossible for Ennis.

And yet they did have a kind of life together outside of the realms of the mountain.  They saw each other 2-3 times a year for many years.  That is one kind of life (a pretty sucky one, but Ennis sure seemed comfortable with it for quite a while – in fact, so did Jack until the post-divorce truck scene).  Also, note that I did not say that Ennis' fears would have been dealt with on that one day at the truck, in fact, I said the opposite.  I said that had Jack taken the lead to help Ennis to not make the choice to marry Alma, the kind of life that they had post-mountain (and they did have a kind of life post-mountain) could have been different and they could have dealt with Ennis' fear... day after day... year after year...  I think we do agree that Ennis came to some kind of escape from his fear by the very end trailer scene... he certainly was able to deal with OMT... and so he could have come to that same point, but without the whole Alma, marriage, kids life that he chose to live because he was confused about what Jack felt for him, and he was confused because Jack failed to take the lead.


Quote
I don't know, however, that either one of them was in it for "fun" or for the sex.

I may have worded this part poorly.  I don’t believe that either of them was IN it FOR fun and sex.  I believe that that's how Ennis compartmentalized his relationship with Jack.  He didn’t file it under “love.”  He filed it under “fun” and “sex.”  But WE know that he misfiled it because WE know that what they had between the two of them was love.  But had Ennis known that, he wouldn’t have misfiled it.  He was a stickler for detail.  He just wasn’t at a point in his emotional development to understand the details he was a part of.


Quote
Had it only been that, Ennis and Jack would have quit each other long before. The truth was that each one "completed" and understood the other (the whole yin yang concept) in a way they found with nobody else.

First part, yes.  Second part, no.  I agree that on a spiritual level, each was the completion for the other; but, in their actual interactions with each other, neither completed the other at all.  In fact, because of their failures to communicate properly all along, they disassociated each other.  Remember them eating the elk?  The elk is a symbol of their relationship, a poor substitute for what Jack really wanted -- soup, that is, a life together.  And what did they do with the elk?  They ate it up, bit by bit until it was all gone.  The scene of them shooting the elk was significant for us to see Ennis providing for Jack (the text) and for us to see the poor substitute it was for Jack (the metaphor).  Now that we know that they shot the elk, we have no need to see them eat it.  But we do.  Why?  Because they're hungry (the text) and because they're eating away at their relationship (the metaphor).

(It's also interesting to note exactly where in the film we see evidence of the elk meat.  In the eating scene we see elk meat hanging on a rack they built for it.  And we see this same rack later on.  But when has all the elk meat disappeared?  And what happens right after that?)


Quote
They were each other's one-in-a-lifetime love (or soul mates, if you will). Jack goes to Mexico out of frustration and need. He beds down with Randall for the same reason (OT - notice how Jack reacts when Randall is talking to him. IMO, he is thinking of Ennis at that  moment .... missing him so much that he "can hardly stand it."). At any time, if Ennis would have said the word, Jack would have dropped everything and everyone to be with the man he loved. Despite all of the times Ennis said "no", Jack kept trying.  It is the final lake scene where I see Jack as resolved to the fact that he and Ennis will never have the life together that he had hoped for ("after all this time you never found anyone else to marry?") (OT - it is clear, at least for Ennis, that it is okay that each one has sex with women. Where Ennis draws the line is having sex with other men. That is why the whole "Mexico" revelation is so devasting to Ennis. He gave himself to Jack only - literaly and figuratively.)

Yep, yep and yep.  But we have to ask why Ennis always said "no."  The text is because of his marriage, his daughters and his job (and they are valid reasons), but the subtext is his fear of his homosexuality and its consequences.  Similarly, we have to ask why it's OK to have sex with women, but not with men.  And again, the subtext is his fear of his homosexuality and it consequences.  If Jack is queer, that makes Ennis queer, and that's his fear.  Fear is what controls Ennis.  His sexual needs and desires are not his controlling factors.  For Jack, they are big factors in what drives Jack.  Jack said they're different.  Ennis could make it, but Jack could not, on a couple of high altitude fs every year.


Quote
When Ennis blames Jack for being the "way" he is .... he is denying his own sexuality. He is trying to come to grips that he loves this man. The reality is, it isn't Jack's fault or Ennis'. It is that they love each other and have no way to deal with it.

Exactly!  And I'm not sure if by "fault" you’re referring to my comment about Jack failing Ennis at the truck, but if you are, I'm not saying that Jack's failure at that moment was the whole fault behind all of their problems over the years.  I'm saying that Ennis' fears are behind their problems, as the most significant factor, and that Jack had the opportunity to catch Ennis at his most vulnerable and to ameliorate those fears... or at least to begin the process... but he failed to recognize the opportunity.

When Ennis said that he hadn't yet had the opportunity, the text is that he hadn't yet had the opportunity to be a sinner, the subtext is that he was a virgin, and the symbolism is that of the (missed) opportunity that lay ahead for them, for their future.


Quote
I completely agree with this statement. Finding those shirts is another heart wrenching scene. Later, when Ennis says, "Jack, I swear ....."  he is vowing his love for Jack ... almost a wedding vow. How painful and lonely. Why so late? "If only .... "

I don’t want to quibble over this interpretation because I think it's valid.  I do take it a little differently, though.  If we're going to pick out "vows" I’d have to go with the "We ain't queer" scene.  Here they set up the parameters for their relationship and define themselves (albeit incorrectly, as Jack later determines at the post-divorce truck scene).  I think that the "I swear" scene (after Junior leaves) is more of an indication to us that Ennis has now, after twenty years, come to the same realization about their vows that Jack did, that they were based on a lie.  And so, "I swear" certainly could be a new and more honest affirmation of their vows from Ennis.


Quote
Now I have written a long winded response. I felt compelled to respond .... don't know why, I just did (as evidenced by my staying up until the crack of dawn knowing I needed to get up a few hours later).

No one will ever accuse me of being short-winded.  Personally, I'd rather have one long, detailed, well-articulated response than 100 short one-liners (such as "I disagree," or "In your opinion," or "Whatever!")  Thanks and cheers to you my BBB!      :)
« Last Edit: June 28, 2006, 05:37:18 pm by ruthlesslyunsentimental »