Author Topic: A Ninth Viewing Observation  (Read 151543 times)

Offline nakymaton

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #40 on: May 18, 2006, 12:21:31 am »
Something I noticed while watching the movie tonight...

I can't tell who Jack is looking at when he says "do you want to dance?" (Looks like he's looking more to his right, though, so at LaShawn.) But then LaShawn glances at Randall before looking at Jack. (When I watched without stopping, I thought for a moment that she was following Jack's gaze. I guess it would make sense for her to look to see how her husband reacted, even before Jack asks Randall if Randall minds. Randall seems to be looking at Jack, which I guess makes sense, because Jack was talking. Though Randall doesn't ever look at LaShawn when she's talking. Heh.)

It looks like there's a glance between Randall and Jack during the sorority discussion... (Randall mostly looks down, but then he looks up, and the camera cuts to Jack, who looks at it, then looks down and to the side, like he's wondering if that look meant what Jack thought it meant. Is this the "gaydar" moment?)
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Offline Aussie Chris

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #41 on: May 18, 2006, 02:38:01 am »
Now that I think about it though, there are moments when they try to talk about their feelings.  Most notably in the motel... in the book Jack says something like "we just have to talk about this..." (I don't have the book in front of me, so I'm paraphrasing).  And, clearly in the film Jack is trying to prod Ennis to say more about how he feels.  And, after Ennis's comment in the camping trip that he's "sending up a prayer of thanks", Jack says "for what?"  He's probably hoping that Ennis will say something real about their situation, but he settles for the cute teasing.

Hmmm, this is probably the crux of the differences between the book and the film.  Whether this change and other additions are viewed positively (saw-the-film-first crowd) or negatively (read-the-book-first crowd) is up to the individual.  I sit comfortably in the changes/additions were positive camp myself, if for no other reason that one of my greatest pleasures is to explore the subtle aspects of the film and the book is considerable less subtle.  Lately I've seen a few "gripes" about these differences though, and it got me thinking about why they were made, after all they didn't have to make them?

A contentious issue for some is that the more emotive dialogue that Ennis has in the book is stripped away leaving the ultimate stoic character, but something of a homophobic shell.  We don't hear any of the "lil darlins" or admonitions of "should have never let you outa my sight".  They're still there in a way, buried in Heath's performance, but we have to look closely.  I missed this entirely in the first viewing making the second like watching a completely different character!  But really, why do this?  It's only my opinion of course, but I think this is a stroke of true genius on the part of Ang+Larry+Diana: All of Ennis' unspoken emotions are channelled into the dozy-embrace flashback.  It is only then that we see the true depth of Ennis' feelings and why Jack couldn't quit him.  But there's more to these dialogue changes than just having something new to see/hear in a subsequent viewing.  What this also does is make Ennis' revelation and final redemption coincide with audience's understanding.  In a way, we were in 'denial' as well but only because we didn't have all the information.  In fact, we are given some emotional miss-direction with the Ennis punching Jack as they come down the mountain the first time.  IMO, this is way more important than just being a plot device to set up the bloodied shirts.

So are the changes between the book and the film a bad thing?

Not in my mind they're not, in fact, I'm grateful for them!
Nothing is as common as the wish to be remarkable - William Shakespeare

Offline nakymaton

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #42 on: May 18, 2006, 10:49:16 am »
What this also does is make Ennis' revelation and final redemption coincide with audience's understanding.  In a way, we were in 'denial' as well but only because we didn't have all the information.  In fact, we are given some emotional miss-direction with the Ennis punching Jack as they come down the mountain the first time.  IMO, this is way more important than just being a plot device to set up the bloodied shirts.

Oh, wow, you're right. And what makes this interesting, to me, is that the story also makes Ennis' understanding of the relationship coincide with the readers, but using completely different details. We don't learn about Jack's drive north after the divorce until Ennis calls Lureen. And the real kicker -- we don't know about the fight on the mountain (except in brief mentions of Jack's bruise, and Ennis' mention of the punch after the reunion) until Ennis finds the shirts. All those little bits of information about the past combine to make the short story absolutely devastating. (Well, it was to me, at least; I felt like I'd been punched myself, and then had to read it again and again.)

The movie is devastating too; I can't say more or less than the story for me, because they both knock me out. Different media, different techniques, I guess, but both just incredibly effective works of art. (For me, at least; YMMV.) But Chris, I think you explained something that I hadn't understood. Before I got the chance to see the movie, I wondered if it could possibly have the same kind of impact, especially if it showed the events in real time. But I think you're right -- by burying all those feelings that book-Ennis manages to say in that reunion hotel scene, the viewer gets hit by the depth of Ennis' feelings at the end, even though the viewer saw the punch in real time, even though the viewer already knew about that long drive for nothing. And for me, at least, the balance between the emotions that we see earlier and the revelations at the end are just perfect -- the ending always leaves me wanting to go back and read all those little clues we're given earlier, to try to reconstruct the feelings that Ennis was burying.
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Online serious crayons

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #43 on: May 18, 2006, 12:29:24 pm »
I sit comfortably in the changes/additions were positive camp myself, if for no other reason that one of my greatest pleasures is to explore the subtle aspects of the film and the book is considerable less subtle.  Lately I've seen a few "gripes" about these differences though, and it got me thinking about why they were made, after all they didn't have to make them? ...

A contentious issue for some is that the more emotive dialogue that Ennis has in the book is stripped away leaving the ultimate stoic character, but something of a homophobic shell.  We don't hear any of the "lil darlins" or admonitions of "should have never let you outa my sight".   ...

So are the changes between the book and the film a bad thing?

Not in my mind they're not, in fact, I'm grateful for them!

Wow, lots of good ideas here, Chris and Amanda and Nakymaton (Naky, I'm still processing yours -- your post came in after I started writing this). There's probably enough here for a whole thread of its own. I know we have often discussed Story Ennis/Jack vs. Movie Ennis/Jack, and even occasionally who likes which version better (I was just discussing this with starboardlight on a different thread yesterday, in fact). But to me, the changes made in Ennis' character make the movie very different from the story. The bones of the plot structure remain (thank you, Annie!), but the central themes shift. I read the story first, but like the movie version better. I find it much more powerful and moving than I did the story, mainly because for me Ennis' internalized homophobia turns it from a drama about the logistical difficulties and very real dangers imposed by a homophobic society into a story about the damage that a homophobic society inflicts on people's souls. (Though Naky, am I understanding your post to suggest that stuff is also in the story, though revealed in a different way?)

Don't get me wrong, from a purely romantic perspective I would LOVE to hear Ennis be more verbally expressive and open about his feelings, answer Jack's "sometimes I miss you so much" and his "how bout you?", tell Jack outright why he's sending up a prayer of thanks (though I might let him off the hook on that one -- his mentioning the prayer at all gets the point across, I think), and in general be less oblique and frustrating. But the fact that he he hides those emotions, at such great cost to himself, is what draws me into the story, makes me feel the pain of Ennis' internal struggle, make the times when his emotions DO become overwhelming enough to reach the surface (the alley scene, the reunion scene, the last few scenes) that much more moving. (And Chris, your comparison of the dozy embrace is interesting; there he IS openly affectionate in the absence of trauma, suggesting that things were probably different between them up on Brokeback).

For example, if we saw Ennis give an openly affectionate and loving goodbye to Jack, then go and collapse in tears in the alley, we'd understand it perfectly but it wouldn't be nearly as heartbreaking. We'd just say, oh, isn't it sad that they're in love but have to say goodbye ... rather than Wow, his heart is really breaking; isn't it tragic that he believes there's nothing he can do about it and feels forced to hide his feelings even from Jack? The contrast between those emotions brings both into much more relief, makes me feel each much more powerfully. His love, though unexpressed to Jack, seems more intense because of the contrast. If he didn't express it to Jack, he is expressing it to US.

Offline ednbarby

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #44 on: May 18, 2006, 01:26:17 pm »
Mmmmm.  Lovely, Katherine.  And Chris and Naky.  I agree with Chris, too (and I was someone who longed just for that "li'l darlin'."  I don't anymore.)  It's perfect just the way it is, for all the reasons you all so eloquently stated.  I think that's why I still feel as if my heart stops every time I see Ennis' face as he's backing away from that closet in his trailer, even after a dozen viewings, and countless more of it in Brandon's montage.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2006, 01:27:50 pm by ednbarby »
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Offline nakymaton

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #45 on: May 18, 2006, 03:26:47 pm »
I read the story first, but like the movie version better. I find it much more powerful and moving than I did the story, mainly because for me Ennis' internalized homophobia turns it from a drama about the logistical difficulties and very real dangers imposed by a homophobic society into a story about the damage that a homophobic society inflicts on people's souls. (Though Naky, am I understanding your post to suggest that stuff is also in the story, though revealed in a different way?)
Well, my post mostly was me trying to understand why both the story and the movie hit me so hard emotionally. But, yes, when I read the story I thought I saw Ennis as a sort of damaged soul. I think.

Here. I'll link to an essay I wrote after I read the story, but before I saw the movie. (I had read some early reviews of the movie, and I had watched the trailer. Ummm, repeatedly. ;D So I was already melding Heath Ledger's portrayal into my impressions from the story. Perhaps.) It's about lying to others and to oneself, and how Jack and Ennis both lie in some ways in the story. But it hints at how I viewed the story characters.

http://community.livejournal.com/wranglers/130591.html

Am I understanding you correctly, Katherine -- you think that the Motel Siesta conversation (and the 'lil darlin) meant that Ennis accepted his sexuality more, but was afraid of the real external dangers that they might face?

I read the "dozy embrace" scene in the story, especially, as implying that story-Ennis also didn't fully accept how he felt about Jack. (The line about Ennis being unwilling to embrace Jack face-to-face is what kills me. Somebody else on LJ speculated that story-Ennis never kissed Jack until the reunion. The story never says, but I think that's a valid interpretation. So the movie gives us the 2nd tent scene (mmmmmmmmmmm ;D), but it takes away the conversation in the motel.)

I'm not arguing that both movie and book necessarily have the same themes. And certainly different people are more taken by one or by the other. But I think they both have a lot of open space for interpretation, and they both are pretty effective at sneaking up on me emotionally. (The language in the story is so unsentimental, especially when describing the characters. The movie is so restrained. The story has descriptions of what the characters are thinking. The movie has those amazing subtle expressions -- Ennis at Lightning Flat, for instance. Story good. Movie good. Both good. ;D)
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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #46 on: May 18, 2006, 04:42:07 pm »
Am I understanding you correctly, Katherine -- you think that the Motel Siesta conversation (and the 'lil darlin) meant that Ennis accepted his sexuality more, but was afraid of the real external dangers that they might face?

I read the "dozy embrace" scene in the story, especially, as implying that story-Ennis also didn't fully accept how he felt about Jack. (The line about Ennis being unwilling to embrace Jack face-to-face is what kills me. Somebody else on LJ speculated that story-Ennis never kissed Jack until the reunion. The story never says, but I think that's a valid interpretation. So the movie gives us the 2nd tent scene (mmmmmmmmmmm ;D), but it takes away the conversation in the motel.)

I'm not arguing that both movie and book necessarily have the same themes. And certainly different people are more taken by one or by the other. But I think they both have a lot of open space for interpretation, and they both are pretty effective at sneaking up on me emotionally. (The language in the story is so unsentimental, especially when describing the characters. The movie is so restrained. The story has descriptions of what the characters are thinking. The movie has those amazing subtle expressions -- Ennis at Lightning Flat, for instance. Story good. Movie good. Both good. ;D)

Well, sure, both are wonderful! And I agree there are strong preferences either way. (I know, for instance, that there's one BetterMost member who, whenever you mention something in the movie, will immediately point out how it differs from the story (howdy, JAD!  ;))) I'm speaking for myself only. I liked the story a lot, but more as beautiful prose and an interesting idea than as the gut-wrenching experience that the movie was for me. I'm not entirely sure why, I can think of several possible reasons, but I think the main one is what we're talking about here.

Yes, I do think Story Ennis accepted his sexuality more and was mainly concerned about the external dangers (rightly so, as it turns out). Not just the "lil darlin," but the "but Jesus H. it aint nothing like this," and the "sure wrang it out a hundred times" and the "should have never let you out of my sight." The only instance I can think of (correct me if I'm wrong, though) in which SE expresses that sort of internalized homophobia is in the dozy embrace, which I always thought was incongruous with the rest of the story, especially because clearly SE doesn't feel that way at the reunion. Jeff Wrangler has advanced the theory that Ennis had simply matured by then, so maybe that's it. Or maybe SE was so happy he forgot that hangup for a moment. Conversely, I DON'T think that's why Movie Ennis embraces Jack from behind. Clearly from tent scene 2 ME had no trouble with that. And yes, I'll take TS2 over "lil darlin" any day -- especially if it means also getting rid of Ennis' reluctance to embrace Jack from the front. I hate that part in the story.

So I think of Movie Ennis as a bit more in touch with his emotions -- why did it take Story Ennis a YEAR to figure out why he puked? I'm sure Movie Ennis knew right then and there -- but paradoxically more uptight about expressing them, due to his damaged childhood and internalized homophobia.

Naky, I didn't get a chance to look up your essay before posting this but I look forward to reading it.

Offline silkncense

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #47 on: May 18, 2006, 10:02:12 pm »
Latjoreme -

As I read your last post, I was thinking "I agree completely!" esp the
Quote
a story about the damage that a homophobic society inflicts on people's souls
.  Beyond Ennis, there are other types of damage that society (and family) inflict(s) on people which is why I believe there was such a universal impact from the movie.  It is a movie all about letting fear (in whatever form) lead to a life of regret.

And a total aside, does anyone else think the reason Ennis did not
Quote
answer Jack's "sometimes I miss you so much"
was that he'd been worrying all week about how to break the news about November & that statement was just going to make it harder?
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Offline Aussie Chris

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #48 on: May 18, 2006, 10:37:25 pm »
Here. I'll link to an essay I wrote after I read the story, but before I saw the movie. (I had read some early reviews of the movie, and I had watched the trailer. Ummm, repeatedly. ;D So I was already melding Heath Ledger's portrayal into my impressions from the story. Perhaps.) It's about lying to others and to oneself, and how Jack and Ennis both lie in some ways in the story. But it hints at how I viewed the story characters.

http://community.livejournal.com/wranglers/130591.html]=http://community.livejournal.com/wranglers/130591.html]http://community.livejournal.com/wranglers/130591.html

Good stuff nakymaton, Katherine, JAD, and Barb!  And your essay was top-notch nakymaton.  I really enjoyed reading your interpretations esp since it came post-book but pre-film.  Having seen the film first myself, reading the book always conjures images from the film for me, so I can't tell if my book interpretation is necessarily "independent".  Now that I am re-reading the story and giving it more thought, the book is starting to stand on its own more and yielding different ideas.
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Offline Penthesilea

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Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #49 on: May 19, 2006, 05:02:36 am »
Wow, what a great threat. Very insightful thoughts by everyone.

It's somehow confusing: on the one hand, story Ennis seems much more aware about his feelings towards Jack, he is able to verbally express himself better (esp. motel scene), he answers Jack's "miss you so much" directly with pulling him close - in short: I don't think story Ennis needs 20 years to become aware what he has in Jack, what they do have together (a relationship, LOVE) and therefore, that he is in fact, queer. I think for story Ennis this is relatively clear at the reunion, latest. He can't act on this feelings because of the circumsatances, because he fears the reactions of society.

On the other hand, I think Katherine is right with the scene of Ennis's breakdown in the alley: story Ennis needs a year to figure out WHY he had those gut cramps, but from the movie I do have the feeling, movie Ennis knows what is happening and why.

This leads me to the question: how much is movie Ennis in denial for those 20 years? I've seen many posts on IMDB and here, where people stated that Ennis is completely in denial about their relationship ("this thing") for the whole time and some even think, Ennis starts changing not until after Jack's death.
I can't share this POV. I think, movie Ennis knows, but is even more scared than story Ennis. Katherine puts it this way and I can't express it in a better way, so I simply quote her:
Quote
-- but paradoxically more uptight about expressing them, due to his damaged childhood and internalized homophobia.

Bottom line: I believe both, movie Ennis and story Ennis, are aware about their relationship with Jack (that it is love what they do have together), but movie Ennis is even less able to express it, let alone to live it out, than story Ennis is.

Does that make any sense now? Anyway, that's how the thoughts came floating through my mind and I'll just post it.

...still confused...