Author Topic: A Ninth Viewing Observation  (Read 130494 times)

Offline serious crayons

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #330 on: December 18, 2012, 11:02:52 am »
Which is too bad, because I think the film and story both work better if we're left to figure out that the killing is in Ennis' imagination. Yes, the ambiguity makes it interesting. But to me, the idea that Jack would be killed by the exact weapon that Ennis had spent his life fearing makes less sense. What makes more sense to me, dramatically, is that Ennis' fears, instilled by a homophobic society and not unfounded, are what ultimately kept them apart.





Offline Shakesthecoffecan

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #331 on: December 18, 2012, 12:53:43 pm »
That is very true Katy, I think in a way it seems Ennis, operating in self preservation mode, was in a way vindicated for his approach. Problem remains ever action has an equal and opposite reaction.
"It was only you in my life, and it will always be only you, Jack, I swear."

Offline BBM_victim

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #332 on: May 01, 2017, 03:02:40 am »
*clearing throat Ennis' way*

Reading all those old threads, more than a decade of several discussions... So, guess i'll leave trace here ;)
This thread was fun! Lots of interesting discussions about just anything!

It's not my 9th viewing (had not started counting in the first place), but i kind of observe myself and the development of my own feelings / reactions over the movie. After watching the movie for the first time 3 months ago i felt pretty sad, but also quite loving (if it's the right word) at the same time. It was a very funny (strange) effect. Then for a while i felt just deeply sad, crushed, grieving. Last week the feelings changed to peace. It's exactly the same as somebody wrote in this thread - suddenly you find yourself at peace because Ennis and Jack had such a great love, a very rare kind of love and i guess they were blessed to know / have it, no matter how sad the outcome was ultimately. The person who wrote this had this mood change at Jack's "Sometimes i miss you so much i can hardly stand it", for me it was the hand-holding in FNIT.

What i still kind of not understand is how COULD they (Ennis) ever possibly deny what they had and what they felt for each other? Because it CANNOT be denied! (I guess i'm speaking of Ennis here..) Look at Ennis at the reunion, look at him at the motel, at the prayer and thanks scene, even at the divorce scene - everytime he's with Jack he's SO happy! And what about the Don Wroe's cabin? Such a short mentioning which i initially had not think about at all, but suddenly when i give it a deeper thought the imagination just explodes!! ::) Now that hand-holding at the very first night in tent??? So early in their relationship.. That did it to me! Ennis knew all the way, i cannot believe he denied anything. He was afraid - yes, he knew it was kind of "wrong" - yes, he wanted to be responsible for his family - yes... But i think it is impossible to hide away from the feelings he had towards Jack. The only scene where i think he was quite cruel to Jack without any reason is at the motel when Jack is asking "how about you" and Ennis replies with "me? .... i don't know". Maybe an attempt to run away from his feelings, but i think it was the only one and can be also interpreted as posing and playing cool. By the way, in the book it's a whole different story at this place and i hate movie-Ennis' answer...

So, anyway. What i wanted to say is that i think Ennis had never denied his love towards Jack, but tried to suppress his feelings for his own sanity because in his mind their relationship was not possible to enfold 100%. He had a character capable to do that anyway (as compared to Jack). On the other hand, i do think he did deny Jack's feelings towards him and Jack's pain because that would inevitably come back to himself and torture him - which i think actually happens after he finds the shirts. Because there is no denial of extend of Jack's love anymore. This Ennis' denial is especially expressed by "those things i don't know". In my understanding it's not only about Jack's sexual relations with other men (which Ennis' is actually already aware of!) - it's especially about Jack's feelings towards Ennis which he cannot respond to in the way Jack would like it to have. Jack is in great pain without Ennis, as Laureen says he drinks heavily. This is kind of "those things" which Ennis actually does not want to know because it would cause him to reconsider his own construct of their relationship, to step out of his comfort zone. And that is also why Jack is so angry at Ennis about him not wanting to know "the rest". Ennis is cancelling August and expecting Jack to "tag along", to understand that Ennis is not happy about it himself and so not to complain at all. Jack is saying, well alright, you expect me to wait to see you much longer than planned, but here is how i truly feel about it.

I think Jack is actually quite shy as far as his own feelings are concerned, every time he speaks out he needs to work up the courage to do so. The reason can be Ennis' low startle point or his incredible empathy towards Ennis or maybe he is just shy about himself. The way he initiates FNIT (awkwardly) without talking, then at the motel how he first says he swears he didn't know about them doing it again, but bursting his true feelings in the next moment, or the way he presses his jaws together before the cow and calf operation suggestion and even the heartbreaking "i miss you" at the end - he always fights himself before speaking the truth. But it is also important because this pushes Ennis, otherwise Ennis would be really stuck for eternity. That's why the lake scene outburst is also an important mile stone in their relationship - Ennis needed to know "all those things" and he could not turn his back to those truths anymore. And after that i think he started changing. It's just the way the story goes that life did not allow Ennis and Jack to experience further evolution of their relationship. I think every relationship has ups and downs and both partners evolve / grow with time. The story / movie give us only a glimpse on their lives and it is cut short by Jack's death, but i am positive they would have worked it out. I believe in these two :).


Huh, how did i come here?... Got carried away :P.
When i signed up here i really needed help to get out of that grief and sadness. I believe in a sort of "flow" of things, that the time will come when it needs to. It proved to be true for me again. Suddenly i was feeling their love only, not that sad outcome anymore. Just like that. :) Which doesn't mean that i don't feel their heartache and longing or Ennis' torture after Jack's death (the uncertainty of his death, feeling responsible for his death, regrets etc), but somehow i am not crushed by it anymore.

Cheers!
« Last Edit: May 01, 2017, 08:13:22 pm by BBM_victim »

Offline BBM_victim

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #333 on: May 09, 2017, 02:01:25 am »
Oh-ugh, back here again...

So, after all that rambling above and all that "feeling at peace" BS :d i was thinking about Jack's fate and it got me again :-\.
I guess they both were blessed to have their love... Yes? or No? Ennis - definitely. Jack - i don't know.... After his dream of living with Ennis died it was literally living hell for him. And he did not do himself a favor with all those affairs in Mexico or with Randall or on his sales trips or whatever. I can't imagine how these could have helped to endure the pain and longing. If anything, i only can imagine him feeling even worse after each encounter. It's like having the thing you crave most in tangible proximity but not being able to touch or experience it and all you have is beans poor imitation of it. I can't help imagining Jack feeling totally empty, curl up in the corner and cry uncontrollably after any of those sexual "reliefs".

I said it somewhere else, but i think Jack's fate was described in the short story by means of the bull and horse riding talk. Especially at the motel scene:

"...a stress fracture, the arm bone here, you know how bullridin youíre always leverin it off your thigh? -- she gives a little ever time you do it. Even if you tape it good you break it a little goddamn bit at a time. Tell you what, hurts like a bitch afterwards. [...] Iím gettin out while I still can walk."

His meet-ups with Ennis did bring him joy, but they did also break him a little bit at a time. Post divorce even more so.

Speaking of the short story. Annie Proulx said that neither of them could be saved. I would like to add that it is true under the condition that Ennis could not change for eternity, under no circumstance. If so, Jack was really better off dead (can't believe i really say this, but it's true!) and for Ennis it was a release, too - cruel, but true! BUT. In my personal perception the movie is telling a slightly different story. There is no Cassie scene and no Alma Jr. scene in the story, but they are in the movie. As Diana Ossana said Ennis did start to change, it was a "baby step" for him, but there was undoubtedly a change. It is the way the movie adds on to the tragedy by showing us that there was a slight chance of a way out of their struggles, but that it was too late for them since Jack died before it could happen. While the short story might be finalized in a more satisfactory way (considering above thoughts on Jack's fate), the movie tortures us with that big IF (Jack had not died).

If anybody had noticed any passages in the short story indicating a change in Ennis before he learns about Jack's death - please give me a hint!
I wonder whether Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry themselves felt the urge to save these two boys and therefore added this layer to the story?? I mean i'm sure they had mostly the same feelings about this story as all of us, too. No? Being as human as the rest of us.  ::)

Offline serious crayons

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #334 on: May 11, 2017, 10:53:48 am »
BBM_victim, great observation about the breaking bit-by-bit line.  :D

Contra Annie Proulx, here's another possibility that could have saved Jack. He could have found another partner. I mean, it would be sad for the audience because we all think of Ennis as the love of his life and are invested in that relationship. But let's face it, many people have some big love in their youth and then eventually break up and wind up with someone else. That relationship may or may not ever live up to the emotional highs of the first. But it's truly sad only if you, the observer, are emotionally committed to the original relationship, which of course we all are.

But what if Ennis had indeed been making baby steps, only to find that Jeff was now happily living the sweet life with Randall -- or whoever? What if the shocking news that Ennis received wasn't that Jack was dead but that he has moved on and now is living in Lightning Flat with someone else? And maybe they'd talk on the phone or in person and Jack would say, "Sorry, Ennis, I loved you for years, but you broke my heart. Randall has been good to me, and he and I are making a happy life together, and I'm going to stick with that."

Would that be more or less sad? Less sad for Jack, of course, and perhaps even more devastating, in a way, for Ennis.

It wouldn't work as well as a story, of course. Personally, I'm of the belief that Jack died in just the way Lureen said, with Ennis just imagining a homophobic murder exactly matching the type he had witnessed as a child and always feared. Which makes it so ironic, because had Ennis been able to overcome his fear and live the sweet life -- well, Jack could still die changing a tire, but at least they would have had some happiness until then. But his death makes it final and leaves the viewer at the end of the movie with no hope whatsoever (whereas they could always hope that Jack would dump Randall).






Offline BBM_victim

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #335 on: May 11, 2017, 11:54:16 pm »
Hey, serious crayons!
Thank you very much for posting your thoughts in response - it really means a great deal to me!

You are right, that there was also the way out for Jack in quitting Ennis the way you describe it. At least theoretically, because i think everyone of us will have then his / her personal preference on what is "logical" (logic is highly subjective IMO) or true to Jack's character. And you are right in saying quitting Ennis for Randall would take out a great deal of tragedy of the story.

I also agree with you that Jack died from an accident and not from tire iron (IMO). On the one hand, - and this is totally my own naive thinking - i just cannot believe this kind of horrible thing could have happened, although i know it did happen to Matthew Shepard. I guess i want to believe in the good in people. On the other hand, - thinking quite rationally - in terms of the story and drama i think the ambiguity of Jack's death adds on weight to Ennis' fate, which is to be tortured by the "space between what he knew and what he tried to believe" for the rest of his life. Were it certain that Jack died of tire iron, it would be less painful for Ennis, or maybe at least a different kind of pain. The sheer uncertainty of how the love of his life died just because he refused to be close to Jack must feel like hell. Jack was his, but Ennis had (and knew) so little of him - by choice!...

Thinking of this the scene with Alma Jr comes to mind, when Ennis realizes he does not know much about his daughter's life either. I think the dialogue they have about Troy is there exactly for this reason, to give Ennis a chance to make it right this time.

Which makes it so ironic, because had Ennis been able to overcome his fear and live the sweet life -- well, Jack could still die changing a tire, but at least they would have had some happiness until then.
Exactly. And i would add that it actually doesn't matter how Jack could have died (either accident or tire iron or else), STILL "they would have had some happiness until then" and Ennis would at least know every detail of Jack's death.



Another observation, back to Lureen's phone call... Eh, but i will start my argument by going to Ennis' visit to Twist ranch first. When Jack's mom asks Ennis her "Want a cup of coffee, don't you? Piece a cherry cake?" and Ennis answers with a "I'll have a cup of coffee, but I can't eat no cake just now" - notice how Jack's mom smiles in response. I don't know whether this was stated before (probably it was..). Right at my first viewing of the movie i had the feeling that they were talking in code, especially Jack's mom. Like she was testing Ennis whether he was THE ONE. Since Ennis shows her that he is truly grieving about Jack she is reassured about Ennis' feelings towards Jack and "takes him in". Maybe she was also wondering why the hell "Ennis Del Mar" had never made her Jack happy, so she was not sure whether Ennis ever loved Jack back. But after that short coded exchange she had her proof and she was happy to know that her worries were unfounded, hence the smile. I think this was also the moment when she realized that Ennis probably never came to Lightning Flat because he was protective of Jack or maybe a more responsible one.

So, NOW back to Lureen's phone call - because i think here the same thing happens. I gradually came to think that Lureen is testing Ennis, too. I assume she knew Jack's heart was with somebody else than her and she probably suspected there was THE ONE for Jack and the only hint to that person was Jack's wish for his ashes to be scattered on Brokeback Mountain. After Jack died all those friends start to call which she mentions whose names and address she never knew. Her repetitive description of Jack's death might be due to all those calls. Since she does not know where Brokeback Mountain is she mentions it to each of those friends, but they all don't know it either. So, gradually she starts giving up and thinking "it might be some pretend place". But then comes Ennis - very late, as always! After all those friends. And finally she hears that HE knows Brokeback Mountain and he even says "we was herdin' sheep on Brokeback one summer. Back in '63...". I don't know if it's only me, but she looks really shocked to me. She did not see it coming at all! Maybe not from a guy (maybe this is also a surprise), not this late after she had given up already, and especially not the fact that the bond Jack and Ennis had had been lasting for so long! I mean, '63 is even before she met Jack. So, she totally tears up realizing Jack had never loved her from the start. Poor Lureen...

Well, that's just one thought, one interpretation. While my impression of Ennis' and Jack's mom conversation was right from the start the Lureen one came yesterday, so i needed to write it down quickly. ;D

In light of above i do feel Lureen really cared about Jack a lot. I don't know whether she loved him, but she did CARE. Even after that shocking discovery of Ennis being the One she braces herself and tells Ennis to go get Jack's ashes. Although it's only half of them  :-\. Question is why would she keep the other half? Maybe she did care about Jack a lot and wanted to keep something from him - even if it might be argued that that was selfish?

Offline BBM_victim

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #336 on: May 12, 2017, 12:12:06 am »
Which makes it so ironic, because had Ennis been able to overcome his fear and live the sweet life -- well, Jack could still die changing a tire, but at least they would have had some happiness until then.
Exactly. And i would add that it actually doesn't matter how Jack could have died (either accident or tire iron or else), STILL "they would have had some happiness until then" and Ennis would at least know every detail of Jack's death.

Notice how we are smart-assing around here after all that insight we have for the story! Could we ever condemn Ennis for not following our "advice" which we get in retrospect anyway??

Offline serious crayons

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #337 on: May 12, 2017, 02:00:02 pm »
Well, apart from what it would have meant for Jack and Ennis as "real people," or whether people can be that cruel (they can), I think the idea that Jack died from an accident makes more sense from a dramatic fictional perspective. After all, we already know that cases like Matthew Shepard's happen.

What most people -- straight people, anyway -- probably think about less is how internalized homophobia and fear can ruin lives, too, even in the absence of actual violence. Ennis grew up in a terrifyingly homophobic culture (the Rich and Earl story is the one example of unequivocal violence). Jack being murdered would simply be one more example of that. But Ennis believing that Jack had been murdered -- even if he wasn't! -- and having had to spend decades afraid of living "the sweet life" because of that instilled fear is a chilling insight into the harm that culture can perpetrate.

That theme pops up throughout the movie in smaller ways. Aguirre, the rodeo clown, Alma, even Mr. Twist -- they all say things that sound somewhat homophobic, but aren't really overtly threatening or even outright insulting. Yet! The characters have to take the remarks that way because they know that's the culture they live in, and they're all too aware of those attitudes themselves. Aguirre obviously disapproves of stemming the rose, Alma of her husband's fake fishing trips, etc., but their main concerns are less about their guys' sexual orientation than other things -- Aguirre thinks they sloughed off, Alma knows Ennis was unfaithful. Even Mr. Twist doesn't seem as pissed off about Jack's gayness as he does about Jack never having kept his promise to help out on the ranch, even if it meant living with another guy (who would, presumably, also have helped out). Yet even when overt homophobia is not present, the characters are always hyperaware of it as a subtext.





Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #338 on: May 12, 2017, 02:20:04 pm »
Very well put, Katherine.

And Alma had economic considerations, too: Ennis was a poor provider.

It's possible her economic concerns come across more clearly in the story than in the film, but in the film we do see Ennis rejecting her idea that he apply for a job at the power company, which apparently would have paid better than whatever it was he was earning at that time. She's also concerned about being behind in paying their bills.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #339 on: May 13, 2017, 09:13:33 am »
Thank you, and good point, Jeff. About Alma, I mean.

It's kind of astonishing to think that Brokeback Mountain is a film (more so than the story, I think) about homophobia in which the most unquestionably homophobic character in it, setting aside flashback Mr. del Mar and his unseen thugs, is a gay man and the movie's hero.


*Jack is also its hero, of course. But I would argue that Ennis slightly edges Jack out because we see more events through Ennis' eyes than Jack's.