Author Topic: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors  (Read 6133 times)

Offline serious crayons

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Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« on: May 12, 2006, 07:30:02 pm »
We've seen all the everyday objects -- fans, buckets, coffee pots, water, snow, shirts, hats, colors, wind, hair, guns, trucks, elk -- can carry big metaphoric meaning. Because these objects keep reappearing throughout the movie, it's relatively easy to match them with their circumstances and figure out whether they fit the idea they're supposed to convey.

But I wonder about objects that appear just once or twice, but seem like they might have subtexts, too. It makes sense to me to consider these, given how many of those other symbolic objects could have easily been overlooked, and given how complex and detailed everything else is.

These one-shot things are almost impossible to prove or disprove, easy to imagine, easy to dismiss as imaginary. I thought I'd start a thread in which people can throw out ideas, however far-fetched, and argue over them. Here are a couple:

When Ennis drives up to the Twist ranch, he parks next to a dark, abandoned-looking, shell of a houselike structure. It's actually some kind of ranch outbuilding. But when I saw it, it made me think of the home that Ennis and Jack never had together.

When Ennis goes into Jack's room and picks up the little horse-and-cowboy statue, it's clearly reminiscent of the horse (no cowboy) he was seen carving on Brokeback. It's not the same one, yet it's too coincidental for there not to be a connection. So what does it mean? Does Jack's statue symbolize a life he'd envisioned as part of a couple (the horse and rider), while Ennis' statue represents his expectations of a life alone?



Offline DeeDee

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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2006, 07:38:14 pm »
I know what you mean.  What catches my eye each time I watch, is the fact that Ennis' apartment is right accross the street from the Elks lodge.

Each time I see it,  I wonder if it was purposely put there to remind us, or maybe even Ennis about a time when Jack was hungry and Ennis took care of him.
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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2006, 09:37:23 pm »
I know what you mean.  What catches my eye each time I watch, is the fact that Ennis' apartment is right accross the street from the Elks lodge.

Each time I see it,  I wonder if it was purposely put there to remind us, or maybe even Ennis about a time when Jack was hungry and Ennis took care of him.

The reason that there is an Elks lodge across the street from the apartment in the movie is that the lodge actually exists in the town where the scene was filmed.

Offline Penthesilea

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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2006, 03:53:56 am »
Quote
When Ennis drives up to the Twist ranch, he parks next to a dark, abandoned-looking, shell of a houselike structure. It's actually some kind of ranch outbuilding. But when I saw it, it made me think of the home that Ennis and Jack never had together.

This house (annex?) is a shell of a house. I always assumed that this is the house Jack wanted to life in whith Ennis (lick this house and then the ranch in shape). They couldn't have lived together in Jack's childhood roomm, after all. And couldn't have lived together in the same house as mean old man Twist.
But in a neighbouring house - why not? At least for a beginning.
I don't know whether this thought is right. It's just my feeling.


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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2006, 04:13:09 pm »
The John C. Twist, Sr. house on the ranch at Lightning Flat in the movie is not anything like the house in Annie Proulx's original story. The movie people found an abandoned house and other buildings where they were searching for possible venue locations and decided to use what they found. They had to do some work on the old house to make it look better in the movie.

So, attempting to read some kind of metaphorical meaning into some of what the viewer sees on the movie or TV screen might not have to do with anything at all.

Here is the book description of the Twist House and location.

Quote
The ranch was a meagre little place, leafy spurge taking over. The stock was too far distant for him to see their condition, only that they were black baldies. A porch stretched across the front of the tiny brown stucco house, four rooms, two down, two up.


It was a little 4 room house and the upstairs rooms were probably attic rooms. KNowing how the history of houses were built and modified in the country in the Old West, including in Oklahoma, more than likely the original Twist house had just been a 2 room house when it was first built. Jack's grandparents might have owned it originally.

In the book when Ennis remembers Jack's father peeing on him in the bathroom and Jack being late to the bathroom so much, I also believe the bathroom was an add-on lean-to at the downstairs level of the house. I have seen and been in houses just like that.

Here is the book description of Jack's bedroom upstairs in the Twist house.

Quote
The bedroom, at the top of a steep stair that had its own climbing rhythm, was tiny and hot, afternoon sun pounding through the west window, hitting the narrow boy's bed against the wall, an ink-stained desk and wooden chair, a b.b. gun in a hand-whittled rack over the bed. The window looked down on the gravel road stretching south and it occurred to him that for his growing-up years that was the only road Jack knew. . . . The closet was a shallow cavity with a wooden rod braced across, a faded cretonne curtain on a string closing it off from the rest of the room. In the closet hung two pairs of jeans crease-ironed and folded neatly over wire hangers, on the floor a pair of worn packer boots he thought he remembered. At the north end of the closet a tiny jog in the wall made a slight hiding place and here, stiff with long suspension from a nail, hung a shirt.


Notice the bedroom "closet" was not really a constructed closet with a door in the book.

From the way that Annie Proulx described the closet, I would say that it had been created from an opening in the wall of the bedroom and the closet itself was a part of the attic and not exactly IN the bedroom.

My opinion here is that in Annie Proulx's story the shirts were not in a real closet (just a poorboy's makeshift one) when Ennis found them and when Ennis puts the shirts on a  hanger in his own trailer at the Stoutamire ranch in Signal, he puts the hanger on a nail on the wall which he had already put the Brokeback Mountain postcard.

Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2006, 10:34:55 pm »
When Ennis drives up to the Twist ranch, he parks next to a dark, abandoned-looking, shell of a houselike structure. It's actually some kind of ranch outbuilding. But when I saw it, it made me think of the home that Ennis and Jack never had together.

Wow, I don't know how I've missed this thread for so long. This idea is one of the saddest things I've heard lately.  Amazing observation.  I think a big thing that happens during the Lightning Flat sequence is Ennis finally has a concrete example of what a real life with Jack really could have looked like.  He was not able to imagine a probable scenario while Jack was alive.  But here it all is... laid out for him.  The fact that the house is crumbling and the ranch is in disrepair maybe are metaphors of the neglected state of the relationship between Ennis and Jack. If they had spent more time together and "tended" to their relationship it would not have wound up in such disrepair. If they had lived at the ranch, the exta house would be at least live-in if not pristinely madeover and if they had "tended" the ranch, it would undoubtedly be in much better shape than what we see has happened to it.

Quote
When Ennis goes into Jack's room and picks up the little horse-and-cowboy statue, it's clearly reminiscent of the horse (no cowboy) he was seen carving on Brokeback. It's not the same one, yet it's too coincidental for there not to be a connection. So what does it mean? Does Jack's statue symbolize a life he'd envisioned as part of a couple (the horse and rider), while Ennis' statue represents his expectations of a life alone?

I think of that cowboy toy as an indication that Jack already was dreaming of cowboys even when he was very young.  It's exactly the type of toy you'd expect to find in any kid's room... but the idea of a cowboy would be very different for Jack as he grows up as a gay kid and teenager.  It reminds me of the flashback where he watches Ennis ride away... his ideal cowboy (maybe symbolized by the toy) is suddenly his lover in the form of Ennis.  It's probably almost unbelievable to him.  The kind of thing a person often doesn't dare hope for. 

And for Ennis, I'm sure that toy cowboy reminds him just flat out of Jack (plain and simple).  It's been discussed that the moments when Ennis gazes at Jack on his horse on Brokeback are some of the first major clues that he's attracted to Jack and that Jack probably fulfills some kind of cowboy fantasy in Ennis too.  But I'm sure Jack's toy also reminds him of the animal that he carved in the tent on Brokeback.  I think (as you've suggested in other threads) that everything in that room reminds Ennis of Brokeback (even the slanting white wall that recalls the tent).  I hadn't thought of the idea that the single cowboy might remind Ennis of his loneliness.  That's awfully sad.  But, it's true that it's right at the moment that he touches that toy that the tears become really prominent in Ennis's eyes. 

I love how Ennis touches so much in that room.  He seems really sensitive to touching things, and this is probably the most important instance of his habit of caressing inanimate things.  It's like when he caresses Jack's first postcard gently with his fingers as he reads it... and the way his fingers linger on the tie at the entrance to the tent when he wakes up after the first tent scene and looks out towards the camp fire.  In this Lightning Flat moment it's like watching Ennis trying to make tactile memories... or revive tactile memories.
 :( :'(
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Offline nakymaton

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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2006, 10:53:04 pm »
I love how Ennis touches so much in that room.  He seems really sensitive to touching things, and this is probably the most important instance of his habit of caressing inanimate things.  It's like when he caresses Jack's first postcard gently with his fingers as he reads it... and the way his fingers linger on the tie at the entrance to the tent when he wakes up after the first tent scene and looks out towards the camp fire.  In this Lightning Flat moment it's like watching Ennis trying to make tactile memories... or revive tactile memories.
 :( :'(

And to that list, I would add the last moment with the shirts, gently buttoning Jack's shirt, as if he was putting it back together after one of those kisses that Jack was always wanting...

 :'( :'( :'(

(I should not have watched that scene last night....)
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2006, 12:20:36 am »
Thanks for revitalizing this thread, you guys!

Amanda, this is an especially nice idea:

Quote
his ideal cowboy (maybe symbolized by the toy) is suddenly his lover in the form of Ennis.  It's probably almost unbelievable to him.  The kind of thing a person often doesn't dare hope for.

And for Ennis, I'm sure that toy cowboy reminds him just flat out of Jack (plain and simple).  It's been discussed that the moments when Ennis gazes at Jack on his horse on Brokeback are some of the first major clues that he's attracted to Jack and that Jack probably fulfills some kind of cowboy fantasy in Ennis too.

OK, here's another idea that you can add to my electric knife and postcard-wringing gallery of gutter-minded imagery. The last couple of times I've watched, I've noticed something about an early scene of Ennis and Alma's marriage -- the one where the girls are crying with runny noses. Ennis is coming into the kitchen, and from off-camera we hear this banging/thumping sound that to my mind recalls a bed jouncing against a wall. But then the camera pans over to Alma scrubbing away on the washboard. To me, it's a subconscious hint of: no exciting sex life here, just household drudgery.

Seriously, am I the only one who thinks of these things? That's kind of scary.

Offline Penthesilea

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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2006, 07:22:55 am »
Wow, I don't know how I've missed this thread for so long. This idea is one of the saddest things I've heard lately.  Amazing observation.  I think a big thing that happens during the Lightning Flat sequence is Ennis finally has a concrete example of what a real life with Jack really could have looked like.  He was not able to imagine a probable scenario while Jack was alive.  But here it all is... laid out for him.  The fact that the house is crumbling and the ranch is in disrepair maybe are metaphors of the neglected state of the relationship between Ennis and Jack. If they had spent more time together and "tended" to their relationship it would not have wound up in such disrepair. If they had lived at the ranch, the exta house would be at least live-in if not pristinely madeover and if they had "tended" the ranch, it would undoubtedly be in much better shape than what we see has happened to it.

.......

I love how Ennis touches so much in that room.  He seems really sensitive to touching things, and this is probably the most important instance of his habit of caressing inanimate things.  It's like when he caresses Jack's first postcard gently with his fingers as he reads it... and the way his fingers linger on the tie at the entrance to the tent when he wakes up after the first tent scene and looks out towards the camp fire.  In this Lightning Flat moment it's like watching Ennis trying to make tactile memories... or revive tactile memories.
 :( :'(

You did it again. Look, that's me now:  :'(

Yet another repetitive habit of Ennis: caressing inanemate things. We collected some of Ennis's mannerisms on the I love everything Ennis thread. This one fits to the list. Do you like to post a new, expanded list on the "I love...", since it was your post with the list? Sniffing on clothes is missing over there, too.
I wonder whether Jack has such mannerisms, too. His tongue (still wondering if this is Jack or Jake, probably both) - but other? Maybe looking relaxed and sexy while leaning on cars  ;) Will think about it.

Sorry for being slightly ot here.




Offline chefjudy

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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2006, 11:45:23 am »
 :) just when I thought we had dissected BBM fully and completely, someone (atz75) points out a new thought, idea or gesture that was previously missed - i.e. the tears in Ennis' eyes when he picks up the little cowboy in Jack's room - as if I needed another reason to watch the movie again - never enough time, never enough.................. :'(
Judy


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Offline ednbarby

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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2006, 01:23:51 pm »
The first time I saw the movie, Ennis picking up the horse and cowboy hit me just in that he realized that Jack liked to whittle, too - he was discovering something (else) about him very much like himself that he never knew.  You know, like if you had a favorite book and you never shared that with the love of your life, then you went to the room where he grew up and saw he had a copy of it there he'd never told you about.  Gave me chills just thinking of it in that way.  But the added layer of symbolism only augments my awe of that detail all the more.

And yes, Ennis does try to create tactile memories, doesn't he?  I love how he also smells things to try to do that, too.  Not just Jack's shirt in his room, but Alma, Jr.'s sweater in the last scene.

Hey, waydaminnit...  It's occurring to me just now how very sensory Ennis is.  It isn't just touch and smell.  It's taste (the "Mmmmm..." at the beans), and hearing (Jack's nasty harmonica playing hurts his ears), and of course, sight (all those longing looks at Jack from a distance or behind that Jack doesn't know about).
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Offline nakymaton

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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2006, 03:17:39 pm »
I read somewhere that Heath Ledger described Ennis as extremely sensitive to bright lights, loud sounds... oversensitive in a literal sense, I guess. And that that was part of the reason that Ennis hides behind his hat so much -- that he needs a sort of a buffer against a world that is overwhelming to all his senses.
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2006, 03:31:27 pm »
i.e. the tears in Ennis' eyes when he picks up the little cowboy in Jack's room - as if I needed another reason to watch the movie again

I find that part especially touching because, the way I've always seen it, the tears actually welled up not when he picks up the cowboy but earlier, shortly after he left the kitchen -- after hearing about the other fella who Jack planned to ranch with.



Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2006, 09:41:27 am »
I agree that Ennis, as Heath plays him, is very sensitive to light, touch, smell, taste, etc., and he is a good listener, drinking it all in. Possibly he uses these antennae to make up for the way he has shut himself off from his own emotions. Heath's hands are very expressive, when he caresses his daughter's neck, when he bats away Jack's hand, and especially when he embraces the shirts after he just found them in Jack's closet. His hand, with its long fingers, is held cupped upward in a prayerlike way. I find it very touching...pun intended.

Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2006, 12:59:17 am »
I read somewhere that Heath Ledger described Ennis as extremely sensitive to bright lights, loud sounds... oversensitive in a literal sense, I guess. And that that was part of the reason that Ennis hides behind his hat so much -- that he needs a sort of a buffer against a world that is overwhelming to all his senses.

Heya,

The light reference comes from an interview that Jake gave:

"We talked a lot. Heath would say stuff to me like, ‘I really think this character is very sensitive to light and I think he’s very sensitive to sound. He doesn’t really like being around any place that’s too noisy.’ We would talk a lot about that. And then when it came to doing love scenes and stuff like that, the best metaphor I can give is that it felt like we were both like, ‘Are you ready? Yeah. Let’s go,’ and we dove off the boat into the deep end. It’s like when you’re terrified of the water, you see a little kid thrown in the water and they’re trying to get back to the boat as fast as they can. That’s what it was like. But at the same time when we were there we really went for it."


So, this is off topic for this thread... but there's another very curious statment from this interveiw... it was called Jake Gyllenhaal Talks About "Brokeback Mountain"
and the interviewer was Mary Rebecca Murray (I think I found it on some website, and now I have it saved on my hard-drive... I'm not sure where the interview originally appeared).  Anyway,  so earlier in the interview Jake says:

"There are scenes I’ve seen and I’m like, ‘Oh wow, I gave so much more, but he [Lee] pulled it back.’ And that was him balancing his film."

So, what scenes do we think Jake it talking about here?

 
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2006, 01:17:02 am »
Hmm. Well, for one thing I gather that some scenes were much longer but are very abbreviated in the final cut. For instance, we have seen for ourselves that the shirts scene at the end was longer. And there are those intriguing moments we see on the trailer or in stills that don't appear in the actual movie. And I read somewhere -- I think in an interview with Ang himself! -- that the original footage of one or both of the tent scenes were much, much longer (please, Collector's Edition DVD, please please please ...).

In any case, you can tell there were a lot of places where Ang, with a very light touch, cuts off or holds back or leaves out or just suggests something instead of hitting us over the head. Of course, that's what gives the movie its beauty and power. Still, I'll have to admit that there are a few places where I would love to be hit over the head ...

  ;)



Offline Lynne

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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2006, 01:55:50 am »
I want to echo my thanks for revitalizing this thread!  I'm sorry I missed it earlier.  I don't care how much analysis we do - it keeps deepening my experience, when I think that surely there can be no more, making it worthwhile from my point-of-view.  The posts here show some real insight, I think.

And I'd like to submit that just because there will probably be no conclusive resolution, it is still completely valid to analyze and interpret to our heart's content.  I daresay that in 10 years when we watch BBM we will view it differently still, because much of our experience is filtered through the lens of our personal experience.

There are people who believe that a lot of the symbolism and allusions related to classic works are not necessarily intentional on the part of the artist, but instead an unintended subconscious output of their genius...the fact that much is open to unending interpretation separates merely good from great.

Heath's hands are very expressive, when he caresses his daughter's neck, when he bats away Jack's hand, and especially when he embraces the shirts after he just found them in Jack's closet. His hand, with its long fingers, is held cupped upward in a prayerlike way. I find it very touching...pun intended.

Absolutely true...and let's not forget Ennis' grasp of Jack's lapel in the dozy embrace.

We've seen all the everyday objects -- fans, buckets, coffee pots, water, snow, shirts, hats, colors, wind, hair, guns, trucks, elk -- can carry big metaphoric meaning.
...
When Ennis drives up to the Twist ranch, he parks next to a dark, abandoned-looking, shell of a houselike structure. It's actually some kind of ranch outbuilding. But when I saw it, it made me think of the home that Ennis and Jack never had together.

When Ennis goes into Jack's room and picks up the little horse-and-cowboy statue, it's clearly reminiscent of the horse (no cowboy) he was seen carving on Brokeback. It's not the same one, yet it's too coincidental for there not to be a connection. So what does it mean? Does Jack's statue symbolize a life he'd envisioned as part of a couple (the horse and rider), while Ennis' statue represents his expectations of a life alone?

Katherine, we must add kitchen scales to your list of everyday objects because they're a personal favorite of mine (Alma & Monroe's Thanksgiving kitchen contrasted with Mrs. Twist's in terms of judgement, condemnation, and redemption), after the buckets, of course.  And thank you for the abandoned building and horse/rodeo cowboy thoughts...I had not looked at them in quite this way before, but your words ring true for me.

Can anyone tell me if the tattooed woman dancing with a cowboy (while Cassie and Ennis dance in the bar scene w/Junior) has been thoroughly analyzed?  I've got some thoughts on her, but I would love to read what others have said before I go into my dissertation on the subject... ::)

-Lynne
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Offline Mikaela

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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #17 on: June 15, 2006, 07:52:32 am »
I agree that Ennis, as Heath plays him, is very sensitive to light, touch, smell, taste, etc., and he is a good listener, drinking it all in. Possibly he uses these antennae to make up for the way he has shut himself off from his own emotions. 

I love you guys! Reading this thread now I've come to appreciate so much more the combined impact that sensory  input has on Ennis throughout the movie - seeing it summarized makes it so *clear*. It sent my mind hurtling to the very end of the scene at the camp fire during the reunion, - Jack stroking Ennis's cheek. Ennis first flinches slightly away, and then he sits still and lets Jack continue, exhaling in a couple of small pffs. All of a sudden I became very keenly aware of how intensely Ennis must be *feeling* each stroke of Jack's fingers across his skin - in addition to all the emotions he's struggling with there.


Quote
From Amanda, quoting Jake Gylllenhaal:
Heath would say stuff to me like, ‘I really think this character is very sensitive to light and I think he’s very sensitive to sound. He doesn’t really like being around any place that’s too noisy.’

For all that I think Heath Ledger disappeared completely into Ennis, I still think maybe these were character traits of Ennis's that he may have created drawing on his own personal experiences. When in public, Heath seems to be using sunglasses much in the same way that Ennis uses his hat.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2006, 07:54:36 am by Mikaela »

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #18 on: June 15, 2006, 08:52:45 am »
Hey Lynne, I've seen the subject of the tattooed woman come up a couple of times, so I did a quick search. Here are a few particularly substantive -- but very different -- comments. As far as I know, there's been no concensus, so the mystery remains unsolved. I can't wait to see your dissertation! (Also, could you elaborate a bit on the kitchen scales? I didn't notice them in either kitchen -- where are they and how do they differ?)

By Starboardlight:
Quote
it's been suggested (by whom? I can't recall) that the tattooed woman is meant to show that time was changing and that things were getting more liberal. That such an unusual woman was out in daylight perhaps meant that the people in town were more accepting tof differences than Ennis feared. The fact that her partner is a black hat wearing man might even draw us to believe that Ennis and Jack could actually be out and about together without too much trouble. Thus making his fear all the more tragic, because it may have been possible to have that "sweet life" and be accepted. Just like the Black Hat and White Hat men in the bus station, suggest a possible alternate existence for the Ennis and Jack. I'm not sure I believe that entirely, but it's worth playing with, symbolically.

By bkamberger:
Quote
When Ennis first dances with Cassie, they're right next to a woman covered in tattoos. I couldn't help being reminded of the tattooed bikers Ennis beats up at the Fourth of July picnic. There, he was protecting the women and children from the unwanted advances of sexual predators; here, he's putting himself in danger of a sexual situation with a woman that, deep down, is unwanted, and which will end up being equally destructive, on an emotional level, for all concerned.

By DavidinHartford:
Quote
Ang Lee is showing us the cultural (and Financial) differences in Jacks and Ennis's lives. Jack and Lureen are at a charity dance to raise money for a Childrens fund.  Everyone there is well dressed.    In contrast we see Ennis hanging out in a dive bar with biker chicks.   No offence to any tattoed biker chicks on the board!

PS My own contribution, though it was just a wild guess, was that tattoos are a way of altering one's appearance, donning an alternate identity of sorts, and that's what Ennis was doing with Cassie.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2006, 01:15:28 pm by latjoreme »

Offline southendmd

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Re: Possibly misguided mini-metaphors
« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2013, 02:08:33 pm »
Bumping for Throwback Thursday!