Author Topic: Comparison between '03 to '05 screenplay: would we still be discussing this film  (Read 34719 times)

Offline opinionista

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Does anyone have more information about the 2003 version of the screenplay? I think the differences between that version and the one we saw on screen have to do with the circumstances the BBM project was under when that screenplay was written. For instance, who was the director attached at that moment? Was it Ang Lee? Also if Ossana and Schamus had some kind of negotiation with some studio and they cut down on the sex and kissing scenes to be able to sell it, and get the movie done. It'll be intersting to see how the movie industry's dirty business actually affects the content of films, not just Brokeback, but all films. I believe that BBM became a film only James Schamus took over Focus Pictures. Before that it was being tossed like a hot potato from producer to producer.
Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement. -Mark Twain.

Offline nakymaton

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Have you noticed that many topics turn eventually into "could they have lived happily ever after" discussions? That's one thing I can't get into. BBM is a tragedy, and that's part of what makes it so great. I can't understand why people would want to see a rose-colored milquetoast version of it. Am I a curmugeon or something??

No, I agree, I think it's the tragic aspect that makes the movie so powerful. That's why I'm hangin out on this forum and not writing or reading BBM fanfic... because, at some level, I think the story is so powerful because of the pain, and because I think both the story and the movie are perfect as they are. (Apologies to people who do read and write fanfic (Jeff!), because I know it always sounds like an insult when people don't read your stuff!)

But even though pain is powerful, it's still hard to take. Sometimes it feels like I'll finish going around the coffee pot someday and manage to find peace for Ennis and Jack, maybe, if I talk about them enough. And then I discover I've started off on another lap around the coffee pot again. Maybe the damn handle broke off when Jack died, or something.
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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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No, I agree, I think it's the tragic aspect that makes the movie so powerful. That's why I'm hangin out on this forum and not writing or reading BBM fanfic... because, at some level, I think the story is so powerful because of the pain, and because I think both the story and the movie are perfect as they are. (Apologies to people who do read and write fanfic (Jeff!), because I know it always sounds like an insult when people don't read your stuff!)

Thanks, but no apologies needed. I agree with you that it's the tragedy that makes this movie great, and I don't take fanfic that seriously, even my own. Fanfic isn't for everybody, and not all fanfics are for all fanfic fans. (For example, I can't abide the idea of the so-called "Moving-on Ennis" fics because to me an Ennis who "moves on" and finds another male lover is neither the Ennis of the film nor the Ennis of Annie Proulx's story; I just don't see it as in his nature.) My early "canon" fanfics were attempts to deal with the pain, and then I turned to writing "AU" stories because I can't live with the constant pain of the "reality" of two fictional characters who have become as much a part of me as the buddies I drink with on Saturday nights. So my "AU" stories are kind of like my own personal Brokeback morphine, I guess.
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Offline dly64

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Does anyone have more information about the 2003 version of the screenplay? I think the differences between that version and the one we saw on screen have to do with the circumstances the BBM project was under when that screenplay was written. For instance, who was the director attached at that moment? Was it Ang Lee? Also if Ossana and Schamus had some kind of negotiation with some studio and they cut down on the sex and kissing scenes to be able to sell it, and get the movie done. It'll be intersting to see how the movie industry's dirty business actually affects the content of films, not just Brokeback, but all films. I believe that BBM became a film only James Schamus took over Focus Pictures. Before that it was being tossed like a hot potato from producer to producer.

I think you are making an interesting point. As I was writing this thread, I thought of that question, but put it on hold to see where the discussion led.

Gus Van Sant (of “Good Will Hunting” fame) was the first director who was going to direct the film. Did he have any influence over the 2003 screenplay? Possibly … it’s hard to know. I do believe, however, had Gus done the film, I wouldn’t be sitting here spending endless hours talking about the film.

The question becomes: how much influence did Ang have over the 2005 version? Although several months ago I would have said “some” … now I have to say that Ang had a great deal of input and clout. I am aware that Ang insisted on breaking up the motel scene into three different scenes (the motel, Alma and Ennis’ apartment, and the mountains). Additionally, Ennis’ line, “I can’t stand this any more, Jack …” (when Ennis collapses into Jack’s arms), was not in the screenplay. The symbolisms, more than anything (IMO), have the mark of Ang Lee all over it. I doubt that had Gus done the film, we would be discussing bookends, the meaning of numbers and sheep and clocks and windows, etc.

Diane

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Offline malina

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I don't think it sounds terrible. But.. no second tent scene?? No reunion scene except from Alma's pov? Obviously I'm very glad it evolved the way it did.
The '03 version sounds like a different movie, one I wouldn't be adverse to seeing, and I think it would still have a good deal of its power, but a parallel-universe bbm, not ours.
One detail I rather like: Ennis imagining Jack in the place of Earl. That feels quite accurate, really.

Offline Daniel

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I also miss the second tent scene, but I am enjoying all the extra little bits of personality that Jack and Ennis are showing in the 03 version. I had not read it until very recently, and I was astonished and delighted to find that Jack does indeed buy Ennis's beers for him in the first bar scene (as I had played him on the Performance Thread), and I also liked it when Jack tried to show off for Ennis with the Chilean Sheepherders.... that sounds so much like him, I almost cried while reading that scene. Also the Newsome Thanksgiving scene was quite a bit different.

So its different, I like the final version better, but perhaps we can consider this a different version of the Gospel. Much like in the New Testament of the Bible, there are four different accounts of what happened, here we have the short story and at least two different screenplays, and the final film itself...
Why do we consume what we consume?
Why do we believe what we believe?
Why do we accept what we accept?
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Offline nakymaton

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I wouldn't call them "gospels" -- I would call them different works of art, because the way in which events are portrayed changes the dynamic of the story/movie, and develops the characters and themes differently.

I also miss the second tent scene, but I am enjoying all the extra little bits of personality that Jack and Ennis are showing in the 03 version. I had not read it until very recently, and I was astonished and delighted to find that Jack does indeed buy Ennis's beers for him in the first bar scene (as I had played him on the Performance Thread), and I also liked it when Jack tried to show off for Ennis with the Chilean Sheepherders.... that sounds so much like him, I almost cried while reading that scene.

It's interesting. There's a lot more dialogue in the beginning of the movie in the older versions of the screenplay, and although it sets up the situation and the place, I think it's better without it. For instance, Ennis talks quite a bit at the beginning of the older screenplays. And that sets up the place, but I think it undermines Ennis's character development. I think the scene where Ennis starts opening up is so good, in part, because it's true that Ennis has said very little up to that point.

Quick quiz. Don't look at your screenplay book. What is Ennis's first spoken line in the movie? And how much development of the character and the place has already happened before he says it?

And I wonder how many of the changes were directly the work of Ang Lee, and how many of them arose through the complete movie-making process -- the way Ang got the actors thinking about their characters, and then stepped back. (I wonder in particular how much input Heath had into the way Ennis is characterized, in part because we know that switching the shirts was Heath's idea. The boy should have gotten a damn Oscar for that suggestion alone.)
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Offline dly64

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Quick quiz. Don't look at your screenplay book. What is Ennis's first spoken line in the movie? And how much development of the character and the place has already happened before he says it?

I believe the first word Ennis said was “Ennis.”  We have already established the location, Jack’s attraction to Ennis, Ennis sizing up Jack, Aguirre explaining where they’ll be (BBM) and what they’ll be doing (herding sheep), that Jack is more gregarious and that Ennis is quite tight lipped. How accurate am I?

Quote
And I wonder how many of the changes were directly the work of Ang Lee, and how many of them arose through the complete movie-making process -- the way Ang got the actors thinking about their characters, and then stepped back. (I wonder in particular how much input Heath had into the way Ennis is characterized, in part because we know that switching the shirts was Heath's idea. The boy should have gotten a damn Oscar for that suggestion alone.)

I do get the sense that it was a collaborative effort between Ang, the actors and the screenwriters (especially Diana since she was on the set everyday).

How many things can you think of that someone fought for, changed and/ or suggested?

Examples:
•   Heath – switching the shirts
•   Ang – breaking up the motel scene
•   Diana – keeping the reunion kissing scene in the story

Can anyone think of anything else?
Diane

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Offline serious crayons

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Well someone -- Ang, right? -- added TS2. And if you ask me, that's the most significant change of all.

Offline dly64

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Well someone -- Ang, right? -- added TS2. And if you ask me, that's the most significant change of all.


Honestly, I don't know where that came from. Let me snoop around and see if I can find something about it.
Diane

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