Author Topic: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?  (Read 26542 times)

Offline Casey Cornelius

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Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« on: May 03, 2007, 12:14:11 pm »
A number of posters - lauragigs, Amanda, Daniel and miniangel started a discussion about the symmetries in Brokeback in Amanda's  'loveable subtle details' thread, but I've transferred the content here so that it does not capsize Amanda's worthy thread.  Let's go brokies - hoping that the above members will repost their replies and keep this going !!


I'd affirm miniangel's notion that the film folds in upon itself with such certainty that I feel it is something we need to explore more.   We've spent hours seeking out bookends and mirrors which are obvious and evident throughout the whole film, but I'm convinced that these are all arranged in a symmetry which miniangel has alluded to.

I've always been obsessed with the idea that the film is exactly symmetrical around a central image which has haunted me since about my 5th theatrical viewing of the film. 

At precisely the 1:07:59 timing of the film, there is a shot of a determined, purposeful Ennis entering the bathroom in his Riverton apartment, toothbrush in mouth, to retrieve something from the medicine chest .  As he opens the door bringing its mirror into view of the camera it creates an image of his face mirrored symmetrically in the centre of the frame. This is followed immediately by a reverse shot from the rear of him exiting the bathroom which exactly mirrors the previous shot of him entering.  If you trace outwards from that moment, one can track plot, verbal and visual elements which are exactly symmetrical on either side of that moment which is close to the precise mid-point of the film's 2:14 running time.  SIDEBAR- I've always thought of that singular, striking bathroom mirror shot telegraphing at a deeper level, Ennis's acknowledment of his abandoning the staid, conventional marriage to Alma and the start of his commitment to a giddy, headlong relationship with Jack.  For all intents and purposes, one life is at that precise point irrevocably replaced by another.


In addition to those pointed out by miniangel my initial random observations would see :
1 - the Jimbo the Clown scene mirroring the Mexican Alley scene, Jack attempting to pick up another man;
2 - Alma and Ennis innocently frolicing in the snow mirroring the Thanksgiving debacle with the snow gently falling outside- the first and last times we see her together with Ennis in the film;
3 - exactly tracing out from the previous elements - Ennis self-inflicting pain on himself in the Signal alleyway, whimpering inchoately and yelling at an anonymous by-passer miiroring his picking a fight with an anonymous truck driver with the unconscious intent of stupidly inflicting pain upon himself with the beating in the road
4 - Ennis picking a fight and kicking with a balletic kick the biker in the presence of Alma and his daughters at the Riverton July 1 fireworks mirroring his picking a fight with Alma in the presence of his daughters and kicking over the ash-bucket with a balletic kick as a substitute while the girls play on a swing-set [with its appliqued star decals a possible visual symmetry with the fireworks, but that might be a little too much !]
5 - the obvious one which we've all mentioned of the opening and closing scenes taking place in similar looking trailers, Aguirre's and Ennis's, but adding to this the idea [discussed just last night in the chat room with Ellemeno, Meryl, Amanda and others] that the first meeting of Jack and Ennis has elements of a marriage ceremony mirroring the discussion of the same in Alma Jr's marriage to Curt.
6 - the final shot with the wind blowing through the grass visible in the open window on the right hand side of the frame balancing the icons in the closet on the left of the frame as homage to Jack's intensely felt absence from Ennis's life mirroring an opening shot of the film with Jack's  impressive, confident profile on the left side of the frame balancing the wind blowing through the grass visible on the right side, the first time Ennis ever laid eyes on Jack.  This use of symmetry within the frame is an obvious use of a technique championed by Michelangelo Antonioni, a film-maker whom Ang Lee has declared one of his major influences.

Just a few thoughts "for what its worth", but I am convinced that these are not random.  True, it could be argued that the film uses so many of the same visual and verbal elements throughout that there is bound to be some repetition.  But I have a gut feeling that the exact symmetry of the film which reads to me like the equivalent of a palindrome is an intentional structural feature by Ang Lee much as composers such as Bartok and J.S. Bach have been shown in musical analysis to have mapped a similar two-dimensional symmetrical structure on top of the fluid chronological, psychologically experienced medium of their multi-movement compositions such as the Music for Strings Percussion and Celeste or the St. John Passion.


Casey
« Last Edit: May 04, 2007, 01:27:40 am by Casey Cornelius »
What Jack remembered and craved in a way he could neither help nor understand ...

Offline Meryl

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2007, 01:14:01 pm »
Thanks for starting this, Casey.  It's great having some of the ideas first discussed at IMDb brought over for further thoughts. 

This particular topic has always made me wonder how the screenwriters came to decide to do this kind of balancing/mirroring act.  Maybe just the fact of having two marvelously balanced protagonists whose relationship rises, then falls, was enough to start the juices flowing.  I looked up palindrome and was interested that the definition is from the Greek, translated as "running back again."  The word "back" always means something interesting when applied to Brokeback Mountain.

Your discovery of the midpoint is crucial, and I think it's apt: two Ennises caught for a moment when he's reflected in that mirror.  Out of that image, each half of the movie spools out and then "runs back" in.  Brilliant.

Trying to find the balancing scenes is a challenge.  You mentioned some great examples.  Here's a thought from me, which I'm sure you and others have noticed.  The first postcard from Jack, which starts their new relationship, comes at a moment when he has accepted his commitment to a woman, Alma.  The last postcard, although it's Ennis's own postcard coming back (there's that word again), is also a message from Jack, which ends their relationship irrevocably, and it comes after Ennis has rejected his commitment to a woman, Cassie.
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2007, 01:51:17 pm »
I think this is a fascinating topic, one I have pondered before. There is a lot of symmetry in the movie, and it definitely is not random. My only problem is I've never gotten the pallindrome to work quite as neatly as I'd like. The scenes seem more roughly symmetrical than perfectly symmetrical.

I don't have a DVD so I can't measure the exact times, but here are a few that I think would be approximately opposite each other if BBM were an inkblot.

The scene in Signal where Ennis helps Jack get his truck ready to go, then Jack stands at the open truck door and announces he's going to see his folks. He hopes that they will get together again, but Ennis says he can't. Shortly afterward, Ennis collapses in tears. A guy in a black hat looks in on him and Ennis yells him what the F he's looking at.
and
The scene at the lake where Ennis helps Jack get his truck ready to go, then Jack stands at the open truck door and announces he's going to see his folks. He expects that they will get together again, but Ennis says he can't. Shortly afterward, Ennis collapses in tears. A guy in a black hat goes to help him and Ennis yells at him to get the F off him.


The scene where Aguirre rides up and says "here I am" and peers out at something in the distance. Jack follows his gaze, and realizes they've been seen. Jack has the chance to be with a relative or be with Ennis, and he chooses Ennis.
and
The scene where Jack rides up and says "here I am." Ennis peers out at something in the distance. Jack follows his gaze, and realizes Ennis is afraid of being seen. Ennis has the chance to be with relatives or be with Jack, and he chooses the relatives.


The scene where Ennis is sitting on a log by the campfire, thinking. He looks over at the tent, gets up and goes inside. There, Jack wraps his arms around Ennis (who is wearing a shirt).
and
The scene where Ennis is sitting on a stool by the radiator, thinking. He looks over at the closet, gets up and goes inside. There, Jack's shirt is wrapped around Ennis' shirt (the same one, right?).
« Last Edit: May 03, 2007, 06:24:24 pm by ineedcrayons »

Offline Casey Cornelius

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2007, 01:53:27 pm »
Meryl,
Thanks for replying - I'm excited by this topic as you can tell.

I'm not sure Proulx, McMurtry and Ossana would have had the symmetry in mind as it's not necessarily a literary conceit, but a filmic one created by Ang Lee.
 I think it's a product of Ang Lee's oriental Weltanshaung.  It's a cliche to we occidentals that Chinese art, literature, drama, feng shui etc. stress harmony and balance, but I had no idea of how pervasive it was until spending 5 weeks in China last summer.  Whether viewing ancient two-millenia-old monuments such as the Shin terracotta warriors and the First Emperor's Mausoleum or the layout of incredibly modern Pudong in Shanghai, symmetry is paramount and primary to their visual sense and conception of the universe at large.  I'm not even sure that the apparent symmetrical structure of the film spooling out and then running back - as you so brilliantly state it - would have been a conscious conceit on Ang Lee's part.  It's probably so ingrained in him that he didn't even deliberately consider what he was doing in the framing and editing.
BUT, the sense of symmetry reaches into other aspects surrounding the film [about which Ang Lee might or might not have had authority] such as that wonderful Titanic-marketing-inspired publicity shot of the two boys
looking out in different directiions - Janus-like.  It's both a wonderful image expressing both their emotional proximity AND their inability to fully realize a life together as they look down and in different directions.

I think you're spot on with your suggestions for symmetrical visual and plot elements.
The die is cast, the gauntlet thrown down - let's keep seeking ...
Casey
« Last Edit: May 08, 2007, 06:06:15 pm by Casey Cornelius »
What Jack remembered and craved in a way he could neither help nor understand ...

Offline southendmd

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2007, 01:59:15 pm »
Wow, this is great to think about.  The bathroom mirror image is indeed striking.  

I have to go back and look at Amanda's thread, but I thought I'd list a few balancing scenes that come to mind.

***Of course, the "right-to-left" truck balancing the "left-to-right" truck.

***Ennis's paper bags, I'm sure has been mentioned.

Here's a couple more:

***Aguirre and Old Man Twist balance each other, as the face of intolerant society.

***I was trying to think of what balanced the Twist Ranch scene; it's so unlike anything else in the film.  My first association was of Ennis climbing the stairs:  maybe that's balanced by going up the mountain in the first place.

The ascent up the mountain is all about youth, discovery and the future; new possibilities; new friendship, new love.  Ennis's ascent up the Twist stairs is about death, loss, memory, and a different kind of discovery.

Offline Casey Cornelius

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2007, 02:01:38 pm »
ineedcrayons [Katherine]:

Your reply was posted while I was replying to Meryl's post.

Your suggestions of symmetries are spot on.  

I don't think it matters that they aren't exactly symmetrical - like an inkblot as you say [love the analogy !!]
That they have just an approximate chronological symmetry does not obviate them to my mind, nor should it to yours.
I'm not saying and do not at all believe that Ang Lee would have consciously made so schematic and artificial a film that it is so rigidly symmetrical - that would be a case of formal construction overwhelming expressive, human, emotional content, sort of like bad 12-tone music. From the pervasive and ubiquitous uncontrollable emotional response it has generated, we all know that is not the case.

However, it cannot be denied that many of us apprehend a much more formal symmetry upon multiple viewings than is obvious from initial viewings of Brokeback.
Casey
« Last Edit: May 03, 2007, 02:18:38 pm by Casey Cornelius »
What Jack remembered and craved in a way he could neither help nor understand ...

Offline Meryl

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2007, 02:09:24 pm »
Thanks, Casey.  Yes, of course I should have included Ang Lee in the mix with the screenwriters.  What he brings to the story is what makes it all work so brilliantly.

Katherine, just wow.  I love how you've put those scenes against each other so perfectly.


***Aguirre and Old Man Twist balance each other, as the face of intolerant society.

***I was trying to think of what balanced the Twist Ranch scene; it's so unlike anything else in the film.  My first association was of Ennis climbing the stairs:  maybe that's balanced by going up the mountain in the first place.

The ascent up the mountain is all about youth, discovery and the future; new possibilities; new friendship, new love.  Ennis's ascent up the Twist stairs is about death, loss, memory, and a different kind of discovery.

Aguirre and Twist both sit behind a desk or table, like a judge, and make pronouncements and give orders.  One sends them to Brokeback, the other denies the return to Brokeback.  So interesting.

Speaking of Ennis and the stairs, I think someone once made this comparison:  At the reunion, Ennis sits at a window looking out for Jack, then runs down the stairs to embrace him.  At the Twist house, he mounts the stairs, looks out the window and doesn't find Jack, then goes to the closet and embraces the shirts.

The ascent up the mountain could possibly be mirrored by Ennis leaving the Twist house.  One journey is his first with the living Jack, the other is his last, with what remains of Jack.  One is going up a mountain, the other is over a flat plain.
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2007, 03:19:06 pm »
**I was trying to think of what balanced the Twist Ranch scene; it's so unlike anything else in the film.  My first association was of Ennis climbing the stairs:  maybe that's balanced by going up the mountain in the first place.

Well, people have noted that the climb up the Twist staircase corresponds to the climb up the mountain. And at the top of the stairs, the bedroom corresponds to the campsite. There's a gun, a fire/radiator, a log/stool, a closet/tent.

So what scene do we see as corresponding to the Twist kitchen? It could be Aguirre in the trailer, I guess, except that scene better matches the trailer scene at the end. So is it the scene after they come down from the mountain, when Aguirre is complaining about the sheep count? There's a grouchy, contemptuous older man in each scene. And one has sheep that never went up there with them; the other has ashes that won't be going up there with Ennis ... Or, another way to look at it, one grouchy man complains about sheep that never went up there with them and the other complains about Ennis never going up to Lightning Flat with Jack.

Another thing that keeps the movie from being TOO symmetrical is that scenes can be matched a variety of different ways. For example, in my post above I correlated the scene where Ennis collapses at the lake with the scene where Ennis collapses in the alley. But the lake fight/collapse ALSO echoes the fight before Jack and Ennis come down from the mountain. Ennis gets angry in both; Jack comforts him in both.

Ang or Larry or Diana or all three obviously intended it to be intriguingly symmetrical, but they mixed it up just enough to keep us guessing.  ??? :)
« Last Edit: May 03, 2007, 06:26:39 pm by ineedcrayons »

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2007, 11:00:34 pm »
A number of posters - lauragigs, Amanda, Daniel and miniangel started a discussion about the symmetries in Brokeback in Amanda's  'loveable subtle details' thread, but I've transferred the content here so that it does not capsize Amanda's worthy thread.  Let's go brokies - hoping that the above members will repost their replies and keep this going !!


I'd affirm miniangel's notion that the film folds in upon itself with such certainty that I feel it is something we need to explore more.   We've spent hours seeking out bookends and mirrors which are obvious and evident throughout the whole film, but I'm convinced that these are all arranged in a symmetry which miniangel has alluded to.

I've always been obsessed with the idea that the film is exactly symmetrical around a central image which has haunted me since about my 5th theatrical viewing of the film. 

At precisely the 1:07:59 timing of the film, there is a shot of Ennis entering the bathroom in his Riverton apartment to retrieve a  toothbrush.  As he does so he opens the bathoom medicine chest bringing its mirror into view of the camera creating an image of his face mirrored symmetrically in the centre of the frame. This is followed immediately by a reverse shot from the rear of him exiting the bathroom which exactly mirrors the previous shot of him entering.  If you trace outwards from that moment, one can track plot, verbal and visual elements which are exactly symmetrical on either side of that moment which is close to the precise mid-point of the film's 2:14 running time.  SIDEBAR- I've always thought of that singular, striking bathroom mirror shot telegraphing at a deeper level, Ennis's acknowledment of his abandoning the staid, conventional marriage to Alma and the start of his commitment to a giddy, headlong relationship with Jack.  For all intents and purposes, one life is at that precise point irrevocably replaced by another.


In addition to those pointed out by miniangel my initial random observations would see :
1 - the Jimbo the Clown scene mirroring the Mexican Alley scene, Jack attempting to pick up another man;
2 - Alma and Ennis innocently frolicing in the snow mirroring the Thanksgiving debacle with the snow gently falling outside- the first and last times we see her together with Ennis in the film;
3 - exactly tracing out from the previous elements - Ennis self-inflicting pain on himself in the Signal alleyway, whimpering inchoately and yelling at an anonymous by-passer miiroring his picking a fight with an anonymous truck driver with the unconscious intent of stupidly inflicting pain upon himself with the beating in the road
4 - Ennis picking a fight and kicking with a balletic kick the biker in the presence of Alma and his daughters at the Riverton July 1 fireworks mirroring his picking a fight with Alma in the presence of his daughters and kicking over the ash-bucket with a balletic kick as a substitute while the girls play on a swing-set [with its appliqued star decals a possible visual symmetry with the fireworks, but that might be a little too much !]
5 - the obvious one which we've all mentioned of the opening and closing scenes taking place in similar looking trailers, Aguirre's and Ennis's, but adding to this the idea [discussed just last night in the chat room with Ellemeno, Meryl, Amanda and others] that the first meeting of Jack and Ennis has elements of a marriage ceremony mirroring the discussion of the same in Alma Jr's marriage to Curt.
6 - the final shot with the wind blowing through the grass visible in the open window on the right hand side of the frame balancing the icons in the closet on the left of the frame as homage to Jack's intensely felt absence from Ennis's life mirroring an opening shot of the film with Jack's  impressive, confident profile on the left side of the frame balancing the wind blowing through the grass visible on the right side, the first time Ennis ever laid eyes on Jack.  This use of symmetry within the frame is an obvious use of a technique championed by Michelangelo Antonioni, a film-maker whom Ang Lee has declared one of his major influences.

Just a few thoughts "for what its worth", but I am convinced that these are not random.  True, it could be argued that the film uses so many of the same visual and verbal elements throughout that there is bound to be some repetition.  But I have a gut feeling that the exact symmetry of the film which reads to me like the equivalent of a palindrome is an intentional structural feature by Ang Lee much as composers such as Bartok and J.S. Bach have been shown in musical analysis to have mapped a similar two-dimensional symmetrical structure on top of the fluid chronological, psychologically experienced medium of their multi-movement compositions such as the Music for Strings Percussion and Celeste or the St. John Passion.


Casey

Yes a Casey!!

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Offline Penthesilea

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2007, 08:03:04 am »
We've discussed the "inkblot" symmentry before, but I'm glad Casey brought it up again and I'm astonished by all the insightful additions by all participants.

Quote
4 - Ennis picking a fight and kicking with a balletic kick the biker in the presence of Alma and his daughters at the Riverton July 1 fireworks mirroring his picking a fight with Alma in the presence of his daughters and kicking over the ash-bucket with a balletic kick as a substitute while the girls play on a swing-set [with its appliqued star decals a possible visual symmetry with the fireworks, but that might be a little too much !]

No, it's not too much (the star). Just yesterday I mentioned that star on the swing-set again on another thread. It stands out so clearly. Always, with every single viewing, I stumbled across it.
I buy the theory that it mirrors the fireworks on the spot.

Offline Penthesilea

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2007, 08:16:49 am »
Another little mirror:

Within the scene that centers the film (Ennis comes home after the night in the Siesta, packs, leaves for the mountains). Early in the the scene, we see Alma (and only Alma) looking out of the window, at the end of the scene, we see her looking out of the window again.
The first time, Ennis has just been coming, only she's looking out of the window (one person)  and sees Jack alone outside (one person). The second time, Ennis is leaving, she's to be seen with Junior (two persone) and she sees Jack together with Ennis (two persons).

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2007, 09:21:40 am »
No, it's not too much (the star). Just yesterday I mentioned that star on the swing-set again on another thread. It stands out so clearly. Always, with every single viewing, I stumbled across it.
I buy the theory that it mirrors the fireworks on the spot.

Another theory I've heard is that the star on the swingset is echoed by the star-like decoration on the sign outside LD Newsome's dealership. According to this scheme, these two scenes would be the center of the inkblot.

Offline belbbmfan

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2007, 02:34:38 pm »
This thread is a feast!!  :)

I've been thinking about what Casey said about the mirror scene being the 'central' part of the palindrome. What always struck me in that scene was that Ennis doesn't appear to be looking at himself in the mirror in that scene.
As if he can't/won't ('you didn't want it, Ennis') look at who he will see there. And that he's so busy with his fishing gear. As if he really is going fishing...checking whether everything is in place. Playing the part of the 'fishing buddy'.

And the last time we see Ennis getting ready to meet Jack, Alma needs to remind him to take his fishing gear with him. I wonder if this means/implies that Ennis is becoming more careless, not pretending anymore. He didn't even look 'caught out' when Alma told him 'aren't you forgetting something?'. I'm not sure, but this could be in line with the 'coming back' part of the palindrome and referring to their undisturbed, blissful time on Brokeback when Ennis could actually be so at peace with himself and his relationship with Jack that he could contemplate spending another summer there ('what if we need to to this again next year?')

 
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Offline RossInIllinois

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2007, 09:39:27 pm »
Woohaaa Buckaroo's! Trust me on this Ya'ALL are reading way to much into this.   ;) ;D
« Last Edit: May 04, 2007, 09:45:11 pm by RossInIllinois »

Offline Lynne

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2007, 12:11:03 am »
This is a terrific thread! Boy, I sure do wish I'd been in chat the other night!  ::)

I love the symmetry analysis.  I think it's one of the reasons we keep (kept?) being drawn back to watch it again and again - a subconscious pull on our psyche, (in addition to all the emotional stuff going on inside us, of course).

I think Ennis and Jack's conversation (maybe the 'high time supper?') when Jack draws Ennis into conversation and gets him to really laugh:  'That's the most I've spoke all year.' is a sad mirror of their last night at the lake when Jack opens up to Ennis 'Sometimes I miss you so much...' and Ennis has no response.

 :'( :'(
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Offline LauraGigs

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #15 on: May 05, 2007, 12:54:17 am »
While Jack is alive, Ennis discusses him with only one person: Alma.  On 2 occasions.  Both are in a kitchen shortly after Ennis washes his hands.

The first is early evening as dinner is being prepared. (It's light out, but Alma is 'in the dark' about the relationship.)

The second is late evening as dinner is being put away. (It's dark out, but Alma is enlightened — and ripping away at Ennis' denial).

(A poster on IMDB once mentioned that a bag of bread is present in both scenes.  Opaque—like Ennis—in the first.  Transparent—like Ennis—in the second.)

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2007, 02:05:02 am »
Woohaaa Buckaroo's! Trust me on this Ya'ALL are reading way to much into this.   ;) ;D

The weird thing is, Ross, actually, we're not. I know it may seem like we are. But trust ME on this: we're not.  :)

But I am very much a to-each-his-own person about BBM. Everybody is free to interpret the movie any way they want. If a less symbolic interpretation works for you, Ross, go for it!  :)

Offline RossInIllinois

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #17 on: May 05, 2007, 02:21:42 am »
The weird thing is, Ross, actually, we're not. I know it may seem like we are. But trust ME on this: we're not.  :)

But I am very much a to-each-his-own person about BBM. Everybody is free to interpret the movie any way they want. If a less symbolic interpretation works for you, Ross, go for it!  :)


Don't forget I worked on this film. I watched a lot of it happen. The script changed on a daily basis, Ang shot what was on paper in the script. Some of it good some of it not so good. What Ang did do was cut out all the crap and fluff that was in the original shooting draft. If symmetry's exist as you say its the screen writers not Ang Lee that put them there. A director is not at liberty to change a script without the consent of the writers and the Studio. What Ang did do was keep the movie closer to the short story when he did the final cut. This also gave the Studio a film that was the length it wanted. Anything else is pure coincidence.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2007, 02:59:43 am by RossInIllinois »

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #18 on: May 05, 2007, 03:00:29 am »
Don't forget I worked on this film. I watched a lot of it happen. The script changed on a daily basis no hidden messages in this one im afraid.

Sorry. I'm too sure that they're there to let that stop me. I'm not talking about hidden messages; I'm talking about careful construction. Some of it comes down to individual lines and scenes, a lot of it is larger in scope, some of it planned, some probably serendipitous. But the symbolism and structure are very vivid to me -- at this point, in fact, almost obvious -- and I don't think for a second they aren't intentional. Not a second. I don't mean I take a leap of faith; I mean there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever.

I realize that to you, Ross, my POV probably sounds like someone saying they've been abducted by aliens, and to me your POV sounds like someone who insists the earth is flat. We may not be able to agree on this. But really, that's OK. We don't have to! :)




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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #19 on: May 05, 2007, 03:53:36 pm »
I'm envisioning a long scroll of paper that we can put up on the wall at the BBQ and colored markers with circles and arrows, as Arlo Guthrie sang about once upon a time. The header? "Palindromes in Brokeback Mountain"!!

Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #20 on: May 05, 2007, 06:09:41 pm »
I'm envisioning a long scroll of paper that we can put up on the wall at the BBQ and colored markers with circles and arrows, as Arlo Guthrie sang about once upon a time. The header? "Palindromes in Brokeback Mountain"!!

Lee, I love that idea. A long strip of butcher paper with markers and a timeline, and people can fill in all their observations about mirrors, echoes, bookends, palindromes, inkblots, symbols, metaphors, significant colors, yin and yang, references to mythology, The Aeneid, the Bible ...

That would be fun!

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #21 on: May 06, 2007, 01:55:27 pm »
I'm packing my markers now, ineedcrayons! Oh, and...crayons, of course! As for butcher paper, with all this meat I'm buying, that should be a piece a cherry cake!!

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Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #22 on: May 07, 2007, 10:06:54 am »
(A poster on IMDB once mentioned that a bag of bread is present in both scenes.  Opaque—like Ennis—in the first.  Transparent—like Ennis—in the second.)

Who was that person anyway? I bet ineedcrayons knows!

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Offline serious crayons

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #23 on: May 07, 2007, 11:02:23 am »
I do know. The person is here now, a very insightful and frequent poster who recently changed his/her name. I believe his/her name at IMDb was the same as his/her original name here, which was the name under which s/he posted about the bread-bag change.

I'll leave it somewhat opaque, because I'm not sure which name s/he would prefer used in this context.

Offline TOoP/Bruce

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #24 on: May 07, 2007, 11:31:26 am »

The carved wooden horses at the beginning and the end of the film fit neatly into the palindromatic structure theory.  Similar parallels of flies on Aguirre's face ("count aint what I'd hoped for")/ Ennis's face -- both flies arrive at a time when Ennis and Jack are experiencing hostility toward each other.  There also seems to be similar symmetrical construction parallels in the observation and delayed confrontation with concealed knowledge scenes (Aguirre/Jack, Ennis/Alma).  hmm.

« Last Edit: May 07, 2007, 11:36:53 am by bjblakeslee »
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #25 on: May 08, 2007, 04:54:55 pm »
I'll leave it somewhat opaque, because I'm not sure which name s/he would prefer used in this context.

The original poster of that brilliant opaque bag/transparent bag insight has given me permission to use her name: it's adiabatic. Which I'm happy to reveal, especially because it gives me an opportunity to also point out that she made this observation in her very first post here.

Here's the original post:

http://bettermost.net/forum/index.php/topic,795.msg36366.html#msg36366
« Last Edit: May 08, 2007, 05:40:20 pm by ineedcrayons »

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #26 on: May 09, 2007, 10:56:33 pm »
I shoulda known!! <Front-Ranger hits self on head> I hope I can get a few brain cells back before the BBQ! All these grocery lists have been driving me batty!! (Okay it's really all the birthday celebrating!!)

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Offline TOoP/Bruce

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #27 on: May 20, 2007, 12:26:33 am »
There is also symmetry in the scene with Ennis in the alley when compared with Ennis leaving the Twist family house in Lightning Flat.

In both scenes, Ennis isl alone and missing Jack, and in both scenes Jack has been subliminally suggested:

In the alley scene, we see a figure in the clouds that suggests Jack driving away.

As Ennis leaves the Twist house in Lightning Flat, if you look very carefully, Jack's name is spelled out subliminally across the screen.

The J is in the reflection of the truck window.
The A is the triangular dormer on the house.
The C is in the cloud over the house.
The K is buried and trails off in the angular mass of trees to the right.
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Offline RossInIllinois

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #28 on: May 20, 2007, 10:26:35 pm »
OMG This thread cracks me up.. :laugh:

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #29 on: June 26, 2007, 03:26:33 pm »
A number of posters - lauragigs, Amanda, Daniel and miniangel started a discussion about the symmetries in Brokeback in Amanda's  'loveable subtle details' thread, but I've transferred the content here so that it does not capsize Amanda's worthy thread.  Let's go brokies - hoping that the above members will repost their replies and keep this going !!


I'd affirm miniangel's notion that the film folds in upon itself with such certainty that I feel it is something we need to explore more.   We've spent hours seeking out bookends and mirrors which are obvious and evident throughout the whole film, but I'm convinced that these are all arranged in a symmetry which miniangel has alluded to.

I've always been obsessed with the idea that the film is exactly symmetrical around a central image which has haunted me since about my 5th theatrical viewing of the film. 

At precisely the 1:07:59 timing of the film, there is a shot of a determined, purposeful Ennis entering the bathroom in his Riverton apartment, toothbrush in mouth, to retrieve something from the medicine chest .  As he opens the door bringing its mirror into view of the camera it creates an image of his face mirrored symmetrically in the centre of the frame. This is followed immediately by a reverse shot from the rear of him exiting the bathroom which exactly mirrors the previous shot of him entering.  If you trace outwards from that moment, one can track plot, verbal and visual elements which are exactly symmetrical on either side of that moment which is close to the precise mid-point of the film's 2:14 running time.  SIDEBAR- I've always thought of that singular, striking bathroom mirror shot telegraphing at a deeper level, Ennis's acknowledment of his abandoning the staid, conventional marriage to Alma and the start of his commitment to a giddy, headlong relationship with Jack.  For all intents and purposes, one life is at that precise point irrevocably replaced by another.


In addition to those pointed out by miniangel my initial random observations would see :
1 - the Jimbo the Clown scene mirroring the Mexican Alley scene, Jack attempting to pick up another man;
2 - Alma and Ennis innocently frolicing in the snow mirroring the Thanksgiving debacle with the snow gently falling outside- the first and last times we see her together with Ennis in the film;
3 - exactly tracing out from the previous elements - Ennis self-inflicting pain on himself in the Signal alleyway, whimpering inchoately and yelling at an anonymous by-passer miiroring his picking a fight with an anonymous truck driver with the unconscious intent of stupidly inflicting pain upon himself with the beating in the road
4 - Ennis picking a fight and kicking with a balletic kick the biker in the presence of Alma and his daughters at the Riverton July 1 fireworks mirroring his picking a fight with Alma in the presence of his daughters and kicking over the ash-bucket with a balletic kick as a substitute while the girls play on a swing-set [with its appliqued star decals a possible visual symmetry with the fireworks, but that might be a little too much !]
5 - the obvious one which we've all mentioned of the opening and closing scenes taking place in similar looking trailers, Aguirre's and Ennis's, but adding to this the idea [discussed just last night in the chat room with Ellemeno, Meryl, Amanda and others] that the first meeting of Jack and Ennis has elements of a marriage ceremony mirroring the discussion of the same in Alma Jr's marriage to Curt.
6 - the final shot with the wind blowing through the grass visible in the open window on the right hand side of the frame balancing the icons in the closet on the left of the frame as homage to Jack's intensely felt absence from Ennis's life mirroring an opening shot of the film with Jack's  impressive, confident profile on the left side of the frame balancing the wind blowing through the grass visible on the right side, the first time Ennis ever laid eyes on Jack.  This use of symmetry within the frame is an obvious use of a technique championed by Michelangelo Antonioni, a film-maker whom Ang Lee has declared one of his major influences.

Just a few thoughts "for what its worth", but I am convinced that these are not random.  True, it could be argued that the film uses so many of the same visual and verbal elements throughout that there is bound to be some repetition.  But I have a gut feeling that the exact symmetry of the film which reads to me like the equivalent of a palindrome is an intentional structural feature by Ang Lee much as composers such as Bartok and J.S. Bach have been shown in musical analysis to have mapped a similar two-dimensional symmetrical structure on top of the fluid chronological, psychologically experienced medium of their multi-movement compositions such as the Music for Strings Percussion and Celeste or the St. John Passion.


Casey
Here is the "pivotal" scene:

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Offline miniangel

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #30 on: August 10, 2007, 12:00:20 am »
It took me a while to get back to this. Here's some observations about the first scene and the "last" scene at the Twists (the final bit with Junior feeling more like a coda to the main story.)


truck crosses landscape right to left
Ennis walks from truck, carrying paper bag, looks back at truck
Ennis shakes paper bag (after Aguirre slams door in his face)
Aguirre sits at table
Aguirre mentions Brokeback Mountain for the first time
His speech is interrupted by the phone
Jack waits for Ennis at bottom of steps


Mrs Twist waits for Ennis at top of steps
Mr Twist sits at table
His speech is interrupted by Ennis going upstairs
Mr Twist mentions Brokeback Mountain for the last time
Ennis shakes paper bag (as he says "Thank you for this" to Mrs Twist)
Ennis walks to truck, carrying paper bag, looks back at house
truck crosses landscape left to right


The scenes are linked in the story also but not visually, obviously.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #31 on: August 10, 2007, 02:25:03 am »
Wow, really good, miniangel! I've seen the trucks and paper bag connected, of course. But I've never seen anyone point out the bag shaking, the mention of Brokeback, the waiting at the bottom of the stairs, the interruption, the looking back.

Good ones! Thanks!  :)

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #32 on: August 10, 2007, 11:01:36 am »
Very well observed, miniangel!  Thanks!  8)
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Offline brokeplex

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #33 on: August 17, 2007, 04:53:57 pm »
excellent observations, when I first saw the film I noticed Ennis's truck going from left to right screen after he visits the Twists and I remembered at that time that  at the start of the film Ennis arrives in a truck traveling from right to left screen.  after reading this thread I'll watch the movie again for the  nth time and look for the parallel structures mentioned

Offline brokeplex

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The Film as a Palindrome
« Reply #34 on: February 15, 2008, 11:48:05 am »
Skipping thru the movie the other day I noticed Ennis's truck heading from left to right across the screen after his visit to the Twist ranch. I remembered that in the first scene in the movie, he arrives in Signal in a cattle truck which heads from right to left across the screen. I immediately thought palindrome, a film that is constructed like a palindrome. We all remember palindromes from high school English class, right?

Able was I ere I saw Elba. read the sentence forward or backwards and it reads the same.

Has anyone else noticed that visuals in the film seem to constructed like a palindrome? I have since noticed other evidence of palindromic filming here, I won't share yet, I'm curious if anyone else has noticed this.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2008, 05:40:26 am by Penthesilea »

Offline Penthesilea

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Re: The Film as a Palindrome
« Reply #35 on: February 15, 2008, 12:21:51 pm »
Hi Brokeplex,
yup, we've discussed this. If you want, I can merge the two threads, but you're welcome to keep this thread as a new one about the same topic. It's up to you, jes lemmie know, k?
Here is the main thread where we talked about it: http://bettermost.net/forum/index.php/topic,9793.0.html

The topic also came up in other threads from time to time. If you're interested, search words might be palindrome and inkblot.

As far as I know, there's also a thread about the topic in the "IMDB Remarkable Writings Rewound" forum. I'll look for it later.

Great topic BTW  :) Maybe you found some examples which we didn't have yet. Looking forward to hear more.

Offline Artiste

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Re: The Film as a Palindrome
« Reply #36 on: February 15, 2008, 08:09:28 pm »
Interesting brokeplex!!

Penthesilea too!!

More please...

hugs!!

Offline brokeplex

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Re: The Film as a Palindrome
« Reply #37 on: February 16, 2008, 03:15:41 pm »
How funny, I went to the thread you mentioned and I had totally forgotten about it, in the thread I even posted a mention of a truck going from left to right and later in the film right to left. (must be my creeping slow timers)

just off the cuff I noticed a few things that may qualify BM as a palindrome

1) the white shirt inside the blue shirt taken outside the Twist's closet / later Ennis exchanges the shirts and puts them back inside his closet

2) Thanksgiving dinner with the Twists and Newsome's / later the Thanksgiving dinner at Monroe and Almas charming little house

3) Ennis knocking down Jack down on their last day / later Ennis getting pounded into the ground after the Thanksgiving dinner

4) Ennis seeing the gutted Ewe after TS1 / later Ennis imagining Jack beaten to death

5) Aguirre's "marriage" ceremony of the boys  in his trailer  / later the Delmar marriage ceremony

6) the post office scene when Ennis first hears from Jack / later same post office when Ennis get word of Jack's death

7) Jack washing Ennis's shirts in the creek / later Alma washing Ennis's shirts in the sink

8) TSI / TSII

if you would like to merge this, that would be great, maybe it will spark someone's interest, meanwhile I'll start taking my vitamins so my memory gets better.

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Re: The Film as a Palindrome
« Reply #38 on: February 19, 2008, 03:28:08 pm »
Very much interesting!

More please...

hugs!

Offline Penthesilea

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #39 on: March 20, 2008, 05:35:20 am »
*bump*

Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #40 on: March 20, 2008, 10:18:26 am »
*bump*

Cool old thread! Thanks for bumping. 8)


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Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #41 on: September 18, 2008, 01:06:09 am »

I apologize if this question has already been brought up at some point.  And, who knows why this question popped into my head tonight.  It was one of those wacky things where I was doing dishes and all of a sudden an Open Forum- type question popped into my head.

Anyway, so within the palindrome/ bookend/ ink-blot structure theory of BBM there's a pretty clear understanding that most scenes (or concepts or images or props, etc.)  from early in the film have and echo or mirror in the later part of the film.  And, that the swing-set scene where Ennis and Alma are arguing is the center point.

My question is, what do folks think is the bookend for the "you may be a sinner"/ "opportunity" conversation between Ennis and Jack that happens right before TS1?

The only thing that comes to mind at the moment is that maybe the "what are you waiting for, cowboy, a mating call?" scene might function as the bookend.  Both the "you may be a sinner" scene and the "mating call" scene seem to be about people flirting with Jack.  This of course hinges on a viewer accepting that Ennis's quip about "ain't yet had the opportunity" and the eye contact with Jack constitutes an Ennis-form of awkward flirting.  And, of course both scenes are followed rather quickly by a sexual encounter.

But, I'd be interested to hear what other people think is the bookend for the "you may be a sinner" scene.

:)

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Offline Penthesilea

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #42 on: September 18, 2008, 02:08:45 am »
Anyway, so within the palindrome/ bookend/ ink-blot structure theory of BBM there's a pretty clear understanding that most scenes (or concepts or images or props, etc.)  from early in the film have and echo or mirror in the later part of the film.  And, that the swing-set scene where Ennis and Alma are arguing is the center point.


On the risk of being nit-picking: I wouldn't say it that way. Agreed on the inkblot part, but there are two theories which scene is the center: one is the one you mentioned, the swing-set scene. Others see Ennis in the mirror (when packing for their very first trip) as the center.
This one:





Quote
My question is, what do folks think is the bookend for the "you may be a sinner"/ "opportunity" conversation between Ennis and Jack that happens right before TS1?


From the top of my head, the scene with Jack and Randall on the bench (after the charity dance) comes to my mind. At the moment it's just a spontaneous idea, haven't thought it through yet.
Will come back later to this.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #43 on: September 18, 2008, 08:41:12 am »
From the top of my head, the scene with Jack and Randall on the bench (after the charity dance) comes to my mind. At the moment it's just a spontaneous idea, haven't thought it through yet.

I have to give it more thought, too. But right off the bat, this seems like an excellent possibility, Chrissi. It's a very similar scene, only with Jack in the Ennis role. And chronologically, it seems to fall in about the right place.


Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #44 on: September 18, 2008, 09:50:03 am »
Thanks Chrissi and K!

Thanks for these suggestions.  I think the Randall/ bench scene certainly could be seen as some kind of bookend to the sinner/opportunity scene.  I think this one, though, is particularly difficult to figure out because the exact nature of the dynamics in the sinner/opportunity scene is particularly ambiguous, I think. 

Chrissi, I love the pic of Ennis in the mirror.  It's such a perfect visualization of the idea of palindrome or mirroring.  But, I also think that compelling argurments can be made that the swingset scene with the inkblot pattern on the swingset is the center point.  Either way, these two scenes (Ennis in the mirror and the swingset) are close enough together in the structure of the film that both come near the center.

And, K, I'm curious about how you see Jack in Ennis's role in the bench scene? 

To me both the sinner/opportunity scene and the bench scene are about folks flirting with Jack.  And, this is based on my sense that Ennis's  "ain't yet had the opportunity" line is his fumbling attempt at flirting (and he may only be semi-aware of it anyway).  I think there are lots of other ways to interpret that line, so it's certainly tricky.  If the bench scene is the bookend, it's interesting that Randall's activity of flirting is significantly amplified.

One thing I really like about the suggestion of the bench scene as the bookend is Jack's lack of verbal response in each case.  Jack does not verbally respond to Ennis's "ain't yet had the opportunity" and he also does not respond verbally to Randall on the bench.  Both conversations are sort of left dangling.

But, I still think that the "mating call" scene functions in a similar way to the "opportunity" and bench scenes.  Timing-wise it probably comes too early in the film to be a perfect echo to the "opportunity" scene.  But, it's interesting here too... in an instance where someone is flirting with Jack, he does not reply verbally.  He turns his head and looks, but doesn't immediately respond.

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #45 on: September 18, 2008, 10:24:36 am »
WOW! What a great thread! Amazing ideas and observations. It takes previous discussions about bookends to another level.

I particularly like the juxtaposition of the early scenes on Brokeback with the visit to Lightening Flat. In an old thread on IMDB (I think it's archived here) there was a discussion about Brokeback as a sacred space. And another thread along the same lines about the Twist house(started by CasyCornelius too, sigh, I really miss Casey). This thread brings them together in my mind.

Brokeback has been compared to Eden. It was Jack and Ennis's sacred place. It is where their love grew. I think that is why the greenery and beauty of Brokeback was made to contrast to life on the dusty plains. One is verdant and alive, indicating how their love enlivens them, it's a force of nature. Life away from each other is barren and dry and loveless. Brokeback is where Ennis experiences love for the 1st time, The Twist house is where he experiences another powerful life altering emotion: grief. But, the Twist home, too is a sacred place. Casey compared it to a sepulcher. It is a place of grief, but unlike Brokeback, which is nature, a sepulcher is man made, as is Ennis's grief.  The comparison of Ennis climb up the stairs with the climb up Brokeback really hits me as significant. In both Ennis discovers something important about himself and Jack. In both he has to manage potential dangerous older men. In both he is ministered to, on Brokeback by Jack in the "come upon a bear" scene and by Mrs. Twist in the Kitchen scene. Both Jack and she reach out and touch Ennis. The young Ennis pushes Jacks hand away, the older Ennis gratefully accepts Mrs. Twists gentle touch. Wow, there is no end to this, just why I love this movie.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2008, 06:03:10 pm by retropian »

Offline Meryl

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #46 on: September 26, 2008, 07:11:44 pm »
WOW! What a great thread! Amazing ideas and observations. It takes previous discussions about bookends to another level.

I particularly like the juxtaposition of the early scenes on Brokeback with the visit to Lightening Flat. In an old thread on IMDB (I think it's archived here) there was a discussion about Brokeback as a sacred space. And another thread along the same lines about the Twist house(started by CasyCornelius too, sigh, I really miss Casey). This thread brings them together in my mind.

Brokeback has been compared to Eden. It was Jack and Ennis's sacred place. It is where their love grew. I think that is why the greenery and beauty of Brokeback was made to contrast to life on the dusty plains. One is verdant and alive, indicating how their love enlivens them, it's a force of nature. Life away from each other is barren and dry and loveless. Brokeback is where Ennis experiences love for the 1st time, The Twist house is where he experiences another powerful life altering emotion: grief. But, the Twist home, too is a sacred place. Casey compared it to a sepulcher. It is a place of grief, but unlike Brokeback, which is nature, a sepulcher is man made, as is Ennis's grief.  The comparison of Ennis climb up the stairs with the climb up Brokeback really hits me as significant. In both Ennis discovers something important about himself and Jack. In both he has to manage potential dangerous older men. In both he is ministered to, on Brokeback by Jack in the "come upon a bear" scene and by Mrs. Twist in the Kitchen scene. Both Jack and she reach out and touch Ennis. The young Ennis pushes Jacks hand away, the older Ennis gratefully accepts Mrs. Twists gentle touch. Wow, there is no end to this, just why I love this movie.

Excellent, excellent points, retropian.  Thanks.  8)

And I miss Casey, too.  How could we not?  :-\
Ich bin ein Brokie...

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #47 on: October 11, 2008, 03:22:04 pm »
Gaaa...I wish I could see the word palindrome like I used to!!  ::)
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Offline Sason

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #48 on: August 19, 2016, 05:33:08 pm »
What a great thread!

Someone linked to it a while ago, and I have now read through it all for the first time.

Lots of food for thought and great insights, even after all these years! Isn't that amazing?  :D

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Offline Meryl

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #49 on: August 21, 2016, 01:24:49 pm »
What a great thread!

Someone linked to it a while ago, and I have now read through it all for the first time.

Lots of food for thought and great insights, even after all these years! Isn't that amazing?  :D

I'm glad you brought attention to this thread again, Sonja! I just re-read it and loved the feeling of being back on the mountain.

That old, cold time on the mountain, when they owned the world and nothing seemed wrong.
Ich bin ein Brokie...

Offline Sason

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #50 on: August 22, 2016, 10:42:32 am »
I'm glad you brought attention to this thread again, Sonja! I just re-read it and loved the feeling of being back on the mountain.

That old, cold time on the mountain, when they owned the world and nothing seemed wrong.

You're welcome, Priestess!

Yeah, I miss those intense feelings from early on, too.

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Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #51 on: February 02, 2020, 11:28:32 am »
Bumping this for Palindrome Day!
Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #52 on: February 02, 2020, 12:54:58 pm »
Speaking of palindromes, forgive me if I've already mentioned this, but a week or so ago Clarissa messaged me on FB that a public book club in Seattle read Brokeback Mountain and in February participants will be going to see the movie together and then discuss both as a group. She invited me to attend and stay at her house. Unfortunately I can't make it, I said, but ...

Quote
How fun would it be to sit in the book-club discussion saying things like "Obviously the kettle and coffee pot are a metaphor for Jack and Ennis" and "I'm sure everybody noticed how Jack is always associated with wind" and "It's obvious what the bear represents, right?" and "It was interesting that Ennis says, specifically, 'the people on the pavement' and earlier he'd had a discussion while spreading pavement with a guy who says 'broke my back' figuratively and Ennis then gazes off wistfully into the distance," and "Of course, that's also connected to the fact that the entire movie as an inkblot structure, as most of you probably noticed, with the center point when Ennis is seen in a mirror image getting his toothbrush at the exact midpoint of the film, and from then on everything that happens mirrors something that happened in the scenes going back from that moment all the way to the very beginning and the very end."

And then we could add, "This movie was really good! I'd see it a second time!"




Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #53 on: February 04, 2020, 11:50:19 am »
Love the quote! I can imagine the people in the book club just staring at the speaker with their jaws dropped!
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #54 on: February 05, 2020, 12:11:54 am »
Love the quote! I can imagine the people in the book club just staring at the speaker with their jaws dropped!

Thanks! Wouldn't that be fun? I feel like all of us here have basically earned a master's if not a PhD in Brokebackology. And yet, what can we do with it?

Unfortunately I don't think teaching is an option, as few college literature or film departments offer a degree for Brokebackologists -- even adjunct wouldn't really be available. (Though I will say that when my son, several years ago, took media arts and culture classes in college, he for the first time asked to watch my DVD of BBM.)

When I describe my love for the literary aspects of BBM, my son insists that all the coffee pot/wind/bear/inkblot etc. things are present  in most acclaimed arty films.

If that's true, they probably aren't as engaging as BBM in other ways. But I would also question whether the metaphor/symbolism/subtext stuff -- even if they do indeed have some -- is as complex and granular.

Lee, when you bumped this thread I went back and read its beginning -- maybe you did, too -- and it was fun to admire the lofty level of discussion back then.

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Re: Brokeback's filmic structure a palindrome ?
« Reply #55 on: February 05, 2020, 01:52:29 pm »

When I describe my love for the literary aspects of BBM, my son insists that all the coffee pot/wind/bear/inkblot etc. things are present  in most acclaimed arty films.
Oh? Did he give you some examples? Studying BBM has made me aware of some filmic symbology, but nothing quite as complex and interwoven as our favorite film.
I would also question whether the metaphor/symbolism/subtext stuff -- even if they do indeed have some -- is as complex and granular.
I get the complex part, but what do you mean by the granular? I can hear Ennis saying "the whu..?"
Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!