Author Topic: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?  (Read 238474 times)

Offline serious crayons

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #20 on: April 10, 2006, 01:45:46 am »
My personal interpretation of the line:
"Jack, I swear... [I will always love you, and I will never forget you.]"

Mine, too. Something open-ended but overflowing with emotion. I don't think Ennis was mentally filling in any specific words after the "I swear" and just not voicing them. I think that his "Jack, I swear" nebulously represents the huge jumble of feelings -- love, grief, regret, affection, sorrow, loneliness, devotion, despair, etc. -- that constantly threaten to overwhelm him at this point.

It's kind of like "Jack, I will always love you" -- except saying "Jack, I swear" is way better, because 1) we have never heard the phrase before, so it doesn't sound the least bit trite and 2) it encompasses more potential meanings than simple love and 3) it draws viewers in, like so many things in this movie, and forces them to figure out for themselves what's going on in Ennis' mind, which makes us more involved and empathetic.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2006, 01:48:17 am »
Oh, and another reason it's better than "Jack, I love you" is because he kind of said that already, albeit indirectly, when asking Alma Jr. if her fiance loved her and then gazing out the window, overwhelmed with emotion, thinking of Jack.

Offline silkncense

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #22 on: April 10, 2006, 12:30:23 pm »
Latjoreme -

That is one of my favorite scenes.  I also think that scene shows that Alma Jr. knows there was someone when she sees that her father is having difficulty speaking.
"……when I think of him, I just can't keep from crying…because he was a friend of mine…"

Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2006, 12:47:38 am »
I just posted this over on imdb (in a post that got a little long-winded for the I love everything Ennis thread) so I thought I'd re-post here.  Latjoreme (you'll see that we're in agreement once again). :)

"During the chat with Alma Jr. in the trailer. When she replies "yea Daddy, he loves me..." Ennis turns his head and seems to be a million miles away lost in thought. It seems clear to me that he's finally articulated to himself (by asking the question, 'does he love you') the most important thing that should have guided him throughout his relationship with Jack. I more and more convinced that it is this pause coupled with the content of this conversation that leads to the "Jack, I swear..." He's realizing that he never explicitly said "i love you" to Jack, as he should have done. The fact that the sentence is still incomplete is just brilliant... the audience and the ghost of Jack are still left yearning to hear the words come out of Ennis's mouth."

So I definitely think he's saying "I swear I love you" and/or "I swear I would do it all differently if I had the chance."  He's performing a ritual along the lines of a marriage ceremony... He's making a commitment in a formal way (that's how I interpret the rather formal choice of word 'swear')

I also think this is Ennis coming out a bit.  It's taken him 20 years to take back the idea that he isn't gay.  In order to swear himself to Jack he has to admit that he IS in love with a man and that it's real and a part of him.  I think all of this was made crystal clear to him in the Lightning Flat, shirt scene.  This is my favorite line from Mendelsohn's essay on BBM from the NY Review of Books- "Made aware too late of how greatly he was loved, of the extent of his loss, Ennis stands in the tiny windowless space, caressing the shirts and weeping wordlessly." Jack has taught him soooo much about this aspect of love and about regret simultaneously.
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Offline RouxB

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #24 on: April 11, 2006, 12:51:34 am »
I agree-it isn't a line, for me, that requires interpretation. I just "feel" the sadness and longing behind it and that's good enough.

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Offline serious crayons

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #25 on: April 11, 2006, 01:08:22 am »
He's realizing that he never explicitly said "i love you" to Jack, as he should have done. The fact that the sentence is still incomplete is just brilliant... the audience and the ghost of Jack are still left yearning to hear the words come out of Ennis's mouth."

So I definitely think he's saying "I swear I love you" and/or "I swear I would do it all differently if I had the chance."  He's performing a ritual along the lines of a marriage ceremony... He's making a commitment in a formal way (that's how I interpret the rather formal choice of word 'swear')

I also think this is Ennis coming out a bit.  It's taken him 20 years to take back the idea that he isn't gay.  In order to swear himself to Jack he has to admit that he IS in love with a man and that it's real and a part of him.

Well put as usual, Amanda! ;) And of course I DO agree with these three excellent points: 1) that the line sounded a bit ritualistic, like a formal commitment, 2) that it suggests Ennis has acknowleded, at least at some level, that he's gay and 3) that the fact that he doesn't actually say "I love you" leaves the viewers wanting more -- as with so many things in this beautifully but torturous film!

Offline ednbarby

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #26 on: April 11, 2006, 07:08:25 am »
I agree, too, with all those points.

And this was my favorite line of the Mendelsohn review/essay, too:

"Made aware too late of how greatly he was loved, of the extent of his loss, Ennis stands in the tiny windowless space, caressing the shirts and weeping wordlessly."

That bolded bit made me start weeping at my desk at work the day I read that essay after having just seen the movie twice.
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Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #27 on: April 11, 2006, 09:51:35 am »
Hey there ednbarby,

I know!  I've never had the experience of crying over a film review.  But that sentence totally knocked me out.


ps. Howdy latjoreme! :D
the world was asleep to our latent fuss - bowie

Offline Aussie Chris

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #28 on: April 12, 2006, 10:24:45 am »
"During the chat with Alma Jr. in the trailer. When she replies "yea Daddy, he loves me..." Ennis turns his head and seems to be a million miles away lost in thought. It seems clear to me that he's finally articulated to himself (by asking the question, 'does he love you') the most important thing that should have guided him throughout his relationship with Jack. I more and more convinced that it is this pause coupled with the content of this conversation that leads to the "Jack, I swear..." He's realizing that he never explicitly said "i love you" to Jack, as he should have done. The fact that the sentence is still incomplete is just brilliant... the audience and the ghost of Jack are still left yearning to hear the words come out of Ennis's mouth."

Believe it or not, although I asserted a tendency towards a "You messed me up good" conclusion, I also agree with what you’re saying here.  As I said in my first post listing a few different interpretations, they were actually all one and the same.  I agree 100% with the significance of the "yeah daddy, he loves me..." scene being the seed of the "Jack, I swear..." conclusion, and that what was unspoken was truly a declaration of love, finally.  The thing is, I still don't think Ennis would have finished the sentence with the words "I love you" even if Jack mysteriously turned up having not really been killed after all.

Please don't take this as me trying to be contrary.  I love your interpretation of these scenes - they bring warmth to my heart when I think of the sadness that is also there.  I also love Ennis (faults and all), and I love him most because of this sequence and that he finally accepts who he is and his love for Jack.  This is also why Jack loved him and couldn't quit him even though Jack wanted/needed so much more.

Peace and love to you all, Chris.
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #29 on: April 12, 2006, 12:22:19 pm »
Well put, Chris. One of the things I love most about Ennis is the way he feels so strongly about Jack that he manages to at least partly overcome his own fears and shame in order to be with him. He doesn't overcome them as much as we would like, of course. But we can see how much of a struggle it is for him, and I find it really moving that he is able to love Jack as intensely as he does, even if he can't fully act upon it. :-\