Author Topic: A Ninth Viewing Observation  (Read 151893 times)

Offline serious crayons

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Re: A new favorite scene
« Reply #260 on: October 12, 2006, 01:14:33 am »
I wish (really I do) that I could see this as a happy sequence, but...

It begins after Ennis’s bleak Thanksgiving (and the music for this sequence starts while Ennis is being beaten).

... There’s no easy banter as there was during the post-sheep scene or the “You’re late” sequence; in fact, they’re silent.

They ride past a lake that’s completely still.

As they ford the stream, their horses are briefly in step, but their expressions are...expressionless and Jack never once looks at Ennis.

This is exactly the way I've always seen it. I read this scene as illustrating the toll that their "separate and difficult lives" have taken on them. To me, the music sounds peaceful but also melancholy -- especially, as Barbara points out, because it starts during the beating scene. The first time I saw it, I expected Ennis to be all bruised and injured.

Their youthful exuberance is gone. They're not smiling or joking around, to me their expressions look outright glum. They're still together, still love each other, still feel more relaxed and comfortable together, out in nature, than they do anywhere else. But being together has gone from being an entirely joyful experience to serving as a reminder to both men of the painful trap they're living in.

Actually, in contrast to this I find the next scene, the "high-class entertainment" exchange, somewhat heartening. There, their behavior seems lighter and more affectionate. Even when Ennis asks about Jack's marriage and whether he worries that "people know," they seem close; Ennis is confiding in Jack and sincerely asking for support. It's only after Jack suggests the Texas move that the mood changes.

How funny that different people can see this same scene so 180-degrees differently!

Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: A new favorite scene
« Reply #261 on: October 12, 2006, 02:00:31 am »
How funny that different people can see this same scene so 180-degrees differently!

Well, I definitely think your right about the horse-wading scene and the potential to see it many ways.  It's filled with a ton of ambiguity (isn't that one of our favorite Brokeback words)?  Their facial expressions are very hard to read... and it seems to fit the overall tone of the film to have such a scene be simultaneously melancholy and peaceful.  That actually sort of sums up the way I've reacted to the movie as a whole from early on.  It's simultaneously sad and hopeful or uplifting (if not truly happy).  I think keeping the 180 degree different opinions (or a spectrum of opinions) viable at the same time is a very, very cool idea and also very complicated.
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: A new favorite scene
« Reply #262 on: October 12, 2006, 02:07:10 am »
I think keeping the 180 degree different opinions (or a spectrum of opinions) viable at the same time is a very, very cool idea and also very complicated.

Excellent point. And complicated is right. Imagine how hard that is to do. Here's a movie in which lots and lots of things are open to multiple interpretations. And YET, nothing in it is ever completely confusing or unclear. Unlike one of those movies that people don't "get" -- maybe "Mulholland Drive"? I haven't seen it but it has that reputation -- BBM is pretty straightforward. It's the interpretations and implications and motivations that are mysterious.

Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #263 on: October 12, 2006, 02:23:46 am »
As a story and in the way the film is constructed BBM is definitely more straigtforward than Mulholland Drive (it's a very good film and is deliberately confusing in its narrative and editing, etc.... the viewer's entire perspective/ access to information completely changes from one part of the film to another).  After all these months of discussing Brokeback I think we've done a good job picking out ways that BBM is complicated in incredibly subtle ways.  I know that some friends of mine upon first viewing the film, for instance, never thought to question how Jack died.  And then when you point out to them that we have no concrete way of knowing how Jack died they're sort of stunned and then they realize... oh, I really had no idea how Jack died.  I feel like almost every scene can lead to some kind of complicated question or un-resolvable issue.  The narrative holds together in a way that you can watch it once and sort of miss all the little elements that add up to zillions of questions.  This seems to be one reason that it seems fun and easy to watch BBM over and over again without getting tired of it. 

The complexities of Brokeback kind of sneak up on you, whereas Mulholland Drive hits you over the head with the complexities.
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #264 on: October 12, 2006, 10:06:09 am »
  I know that some friends of mine upon first viewing the film, for instance, never thought to question how Jack died.  And then when you point out to them that we have no concrete way of knowing how Jack died they're sort of stunned and then they realize... oh, I really had no idea how Jack died.

Which do they think it is?

I love Brokeback's straightforwardness, but it is also, in a way, a liability. That's one reason why some perfectly intelligent people see it and think it's slow, or nothing happens, or, well, I liked it fine, but ... They haven't realized how much lies under the surface.




Marge_Innavera

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Re: A new favorite scene
« Reply #265 on: October 12, 2006, 12:24:14 pm »
Their youthful exuberance is gone. They're not smiling or joking around, to me their expressions look outright glum. They're still together, still love each other, still feel more relaxed and comfortable together, out in nature, than they do anywhere else. But being together has gone from being an entirely joyful experience to serving as a reminder to both men of the painful trap they're living in.

Actually, in contrast to this I find the next scene, the "high-class entertainment" exchange, somewhat heartening. There, their behavior seems lighter and more affectionate. Even when Ennis asks about Jack's marriage and whether he worries that "people know," they seem close; Ennis is confiding in Jack and sincerely asking for support. It's only after Jack suggests the Texas move that the mood changes.

Seems to me like things start sliding downhill after the post-divorce truck scene. Although the love is always there underneath, it's then that the wilderness escape starts to turn into a kind of ghetto.

Offline Mikaela

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #266 on: October 12, 2006, 12:31:26 pm »
Which do they think it is?


Based on my own discussions with first time viewers, they at first believe the film's scene of Jack's death presents what actually happpened, no more and no less. They believe it to be included as the truth, shown deliberately in direct contrast to Lureen's (then, to them, equally obviously) fake story. It's not till afterwards and after giving it some more thought that the realization dawns that the death scene may be taking place in Ennis's mind only, as a consequence of his past traumatic experiences and his enduring fears.

Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #267 on: October 12, 2006, 10:47:47 pm »
Which do they think it is?

Yup, like Mikaela said... I have two friends who were stunned to realize that we don't know that Jack actually was murdered.  Of course, once you point out the subjective points of view (Ennis's imagination and Lureen's story, which could or could not be accurate) they almost immediately get that there's a complexity here.  Or a "space" in what we know about the narrative (to use a Proulx-like descriptive word). 

I sometimes think that because the filmmakers decided to show us visually Ennis's imaginative projection of what happened to Jack, his version of the story seems more "real" to the viewer or at least more palpable.  This doesn't at all make it true... but it makes it powerful.  And I would guess that a casual viewer (one not paying close attention or one who is still trying to figure things out) might miss the nuance that the murder scene is an imaginative sequence.  We only hear Lureen's verbal description of the accident scenario, so it might not have the same impact on the viewer.  It's interesting to consider how we would feel about the question of murder vs. accident if Lee chose to also show us a shot of the death as an accident. 

The distinction between seeing and hearing in this exchange between Ennis and Lureen is actually very interesting.




LOL, by the way... I love how the topics on this thread keep evolving.  It seems like we've moved on from the horse wading scene and are now back in the murky waters of the "how did Jack die" controversy.  And poor ol' Randall is left in the dust of the original posts.
 :)
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Offline Penthesilea

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #268 on: October 13, 2006, 04:18:19 pm »
Quote
From Amanda:
I sometimes think that because the filmmakers decided to show us visually Ennis's imaginative projection of what happened to Jack, his version of the story seems more "real" to the viewer or at least more palpable.  This doesn't at all make it true... but it makes it powerful. 

Agreed to what you and Mikaela said. To see a scene makes it more poweful than only to hear about an incidence (accident in this case) and therefore it seems more real.

Regarding that the visual sense is the most important to humans it's only logical.
I strolled around at Wikipedia a bit and found interesting details about this: The ability of our senses to process information from the outside differs in quantitiy for the different senses. The visual sense is by far the one who is able to process the most information per second. It's around 10 million Bit per second. In comparison, the audio sense processes around 100 000 Bit per second (however this is measured. And why is the measuring unit Bit?).

And I think this is the exact reason why so many people think at their first viewing that Jack is murdered and don't doubt it. It was my own reaction, too. The moment I saw it, I believed it was the truth. The director's way to show the audience what really happened. Like some omnipotent and omniscient  narrator.
But it lasted not long. As soon as I recoverd a bit from being absorbed by the movie, I begun to doubt my impression.


Ang Lee must know this (not necessarily the scientific details, but the fact that the visual sense is the most important). Plus, he said Lureen lied on the phone. Maybe Ang Lee is not totally ambigious about Jack's death? Maybe he let the movie be ambigious about it, but he himself belongs to the "murder-camp"? 

Someone once described this question as one of the first symptoms of Brokeback Fever  :). Additionally to feeling kind of numb for days it was definately true for me (and for Kerstin, and for my husband, although the latter never evolved Brokeback Fever).

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #269 on: October 31, 2006, 10:43:07 am »
Also, when Ennis goes into the nursery and picks up Jennie, as he is holding her, you can see Alma through two windows--the nursery and the kitchen window.
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