The Ultimate Brokeback Forum

Poll

Which do you rate as 'better'?

The Film
207 (44%)
The Book
45 (9.6%)
Equal
195 (41.5%)
Haven't seen/read both yet
23 (4.9%)

Total Members Voted: 432

Author Topic: Film vs. Book -- Which was better?  (Read 168930 times)

Offline Dave Cullen

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Re: Poll: Film or Book -- Which was better?
« Reply #30 on: January 07, 2006, 08:51:28 AM »
You get what you need by going back and forth between the two.
The story feeds you more specific "proof" about Ennis' passion for Jack. The film gives you the visual emotional payoff that you need to withstand the story's tragic moments. . . I felt like the story does a better job of making me feel Ennis' devotion to Jack, while the film better depicts his sorrow.

Wow. What an insightful analysis.

The single biggest thing the film did better for me was to make me empathize more with Ennis. The visualization of him and all the complexity of the pain, anguish and inner turmoil Heath conveyed allowed me to finally accept his decision. Forgive him, essentially. I was so frustrated/mad at him after the book, but when the film was over, I understood. I didn't blame him any more.

So I guess the book was a bit sparse in character development, compared to what the film conveyed. Similarly with Jack, though to a lesser degree perhaps. But in the film Jake conveyed his giddy zest for life so much more. That might actually be a change in character from the book, I'd have to go back yet again. But he is so full of energy, happiness, joy in the film--I feel him so much more strongly as an individual, and like him so much more.

Offline Dave Cullen

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Re: Both perfect
« Reply #31 on: January 07, 2006, 09:01:25 AM »
I really liked what you had to say, Cambridge, except for these two parts:

The absence of scenes and characters from the story found in the film - but not in the original story - does not diminish its impact but rather intensifies it.

Maybe you didn't mean that literally, but were responding to a previous person who said there were no additions.

There were quite a few. The women went from nearly invisible in the book to real characters, through several scenes. And the pivotal second-night tent scene--my favorite in either version--was created by Ang Lee.

It's more than mere good writing, or only a great movie: Brokeback transcends those categories. It's art.

Maybe I'm just quibbling with the wording, but that suggests writing and movies are not normally art. Ouch.

Offline aceygirl

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Re: Poll: Film or Book -- Which was better?
« Reply #32 on: January 07, 2006, 12:31:20 PM »
I love both (don't that sound bi of me) but almost see the book and movie as two separate entities in my mind--almost as if they were stories about two different sets of cowboys! For example, in the book, Jack is described as short and buck-toothed. Neither seem to come off as particularly handsome. I loved imagining what they looked like in the book--kinda homely, tough boys who fall in love.

But in the movie, well, Jake sure isn't buck-toothed and short--he's HOT. And I can't object to hotties like Jake and Heath making some steam.

Some of the descriptions in the book are sublime but can't by nature be used in the movie; i.e. Ennis "...felt he could paw the white out of the moon" because he was having such a good time with Jack.

On the other hand, the screenwriters added some fabulous touches -- the "no more beans" leading to Ennis dutifully telling the grocery guy, "I'm sick of beans"--how sweet! It's an almost domestic touch showing that Ennis is trying to accommodate Jack's tastes (or shares them). Even though it means ordering soup--which Ennis "doesn't eat."

I could go on and on but won't. Geez, BBM almost makes me miss my days as an English major writing essays! (Almost).




Offline ImEnnisShesJack

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Re: Poll: Film or Book -- Which was better?
« Reply #33 on: January 07, 2006, 08:48:39 PM »
Yes, I also noticed that there was much of Proulx's original language in the script.
I imagined the actors reading the screenplay and paying attention to the tone of the story.
I think including so much of the original wording was respectful, wise, and it paid off.

which means the dialect coach deserves some kudos as well.  It is no easy task to a) write in dialect and then 2) write a script from dialect and then thirdly, to direct/act in dialect without having a story come off as cartoonish or have the characters come off as buffoonish.

I just got the short story and story-to-script today.  I'm going to go read them tonight......
"And when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night."
~~Heath Ledger 1979-2008~~

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Offline Nicole

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Re: Poll: Film or Book -- Which was better?
« Reply #34 on: January 08, 2006, 08:00:53 AM »
That is a really tough choice. REALLY!!

I loved both. I think the book is outstanding in that it is beautiful prose and it describes the moments perfectly without using a ton of words.

The movie is gorgeous. The scenery is just breathtaking when they're up in the mountains and the way it was filmed made it a masterpiece. I love the fact that they incorporated humor into the mix, it adds A LOT to the story (the juxtaposition of comedy and tragedy). And the acting was just superb.

Tough choice, Dave. Not fair.  ;)
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Offline khal

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Re: Poll: Film or Book -- Which was better?
« Reply #35 on: January 08, 2006, 02:12:00 PM »
I loved the movie, but liked the book better.  I saw the movie first, then read the book, then saw the movie a couple of more times.  Some of the things that were in the book that I would have like to have been shown or brought out better in the film were:

1. How good Ennis felt being up on the mountain with Jack prior to their having sex.

2. How bad he felt when he was riding down off the mountain.

3. The description of how he felt when he got the dry heaves after Jack and him split after the summer.

4. Ennis not telling Jack in the Motel room about the dry heaves and how he had figured out that the reason was that he should never had let Jack get out of his sights.

5. Ennis talking to Jack about wondering about being gay, and how he had "wrung it out a hundered times" thinking about Jack.

6. Ennis wearing his best shirt and taking the day off on the day that Jack was to arrive after 4 years.

7. Why the flashback scene, where Ennis embraces Jack from behind and gently rocks him while humming to hiim, was so important to Jack.

Offline aceygirl

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Re: Poll: Film or Book -- Which was better?
« Reply #36 on: January 08, 2006, 04:02:43 PM »
Another thing I realized I like about the book...it actually has more descriptions of the sexual relationship than is shown in the movie. The description of Jack and Ennis talking about their kids while getting ready to have sex is just fabulous. Imagine, child discussion as foreplay. More than the sex, it shows that they are all but a married couple, able to talk together about anything while retaining that sexual passion.

If there was just one minor quibble with the movie plot, I guess it would be that I wish they'd shown just one more intimation of their physical relationship near the end. The scene showing Ennis holding Jack as they sleep together for the last time is sweet, but devoid of passion.


Offline mary

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Re: Poll: Film or Book -- Which was better?
« Reply #37 on: January 08, 2006, 10:27:09 PM »
Another thing I realized I like about the book...it actually has more descriptions of the sexual relationship than is shown in the movie. The description of Jack and Ennis talking about their kids while getting ready to have sex is just fabulous. Imagine, child discussion as foreplay. More than the sex, it shows that they are all but a married couple, able to talk together about anything while retaining that sexual passion.

If there was just one minor quibble with the movie plot, I guess it would be that I wish they'd shown just one more intimation of their physical relationship near the end. The scene showing Ennis holding Jack as they sleep together for the last time is sweet, but devoid of passion.


I'd agree aceygirl, even the beginning of that scene where Ennis puts his arm around Jack and pulls him close would have made me happy, would have shown more passion that the arm draped over him as they slept
never enough time, never enough....

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Offline Cambridge

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Re: Both perfect
« Reply #38 on: January 09, 2006, 03:24:55 PM »

Maybe I'm just quibbling

You are, but it's sweet of you to notice.  :-*

1: The additions - particularly the women - not in the short story but created for the film (roundabout way I said it, granted) make the story (as told on film) a better film. The short story is what it is: terrific. The film is what is: terrific, and a better film for the addiitons.   

2: There's art and then there's "art". It was a great story (evidenced by the awards and recognition it got long before they made the movie) and while there are any number of good movies, I just can't think of any, lately, that come close to the perfection that BBM is on the screen. This is one for the ages and I expect - when all's said and done - it'll be on the shortlist of the greatest films of all time. 



« Last Edit: January 09, 2006, 03:29:28 PM by Cambridge »

Offline sotoalf

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Re: Poll: Film or Book -- Which was better?
« Reply #39 on: January 09, 2006, 03:33:00 PM »
I loved the movie, but liked the book better.  I saw the movie first, then read the book, then saw the movie a couple of more times.  Some of the things that were in the book that I would have like to have been shown or brought out better in the film were:

1. How good Ennis felt being up on the mountain with Jack prior to their having sex.

2. How bad he felt when he was riding down off the mountain.

3. The description of how he felt when he got the dry heaves after Jack and him split after the summer.

4. Ennis not telling Jack in the Motel room about the dry heaves and how he had figured out that the reason was that he should never had let Jack get out of his sights.

5. Ennis talking to Jack about wondering about being gay, and how he had "wrung it out a hundered times" thinking about Jack.

6. Ennis wearing his best shirt and taking the day off on the day that Jack was to arrive after 4 years.

7. Why the flashback scene, where Ennis embraces Jack from behind and gently rocks him while humming to hiim, was so important to Jack.

Most of your objections are good ones; I agree with # 4. This was a mistake. McMurtry and Ossana, in turning Ennis into a repressed husk of man, went too far in that scene. As a result, the tension builds in a predictable fashion until the confrontation scene in 1983, for which McMurry and Ossana write lines for Ennis ("Why don't you quit me?" etc) that are not only NOT in the story, but rather stale ones. It's a testament to how good Ledger is that, despite these mistakes, his performance is never one-note.

As for #7...I dunno, I read the story years before watching the film and forgot this scene, so when I watched it I understood what Jack Twist was thinking: this hug on Brokeback Mountain was the only moment of unadulterated happiness Jack and Ennis have ever known.
but the movie addresses them in visual terms. It's obvious, for example, that Ennis takes the day off work on the day Jack arrives.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2006, 03:36:59 PM by sotoalf »

Offline blairski

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Re: Poll: Film or Book -- Which was better?
« Reply #40 on: January 10, 2006, 01:00:53 AM »
This is a great list, Khal, thanks.  Other things I wish were in the movie:

Conversations on topics other than bitching about beans.  The story lists a whole bunch of topics that you never see them discussing.  It would have been great to see their friendship develop more before the physical relationship started.

Jack not telling Ennis in the motel room that they had been spotted by Aguirre (or did he?  I'm pretty sure he didn't but I can't remember)

The story implies there was some physical activity between them before Jack pulls Ennis' hand over, in the first night together in the tent. 

The story clearly states that their trips were all over the West, and that they never returned to Brokeback, but I think the implication for a viewer who hasn't read the story is that they return to Brokeback all the time.  Do others agree?

But although there are a few places I wish the screenplay was more faithful to the story, I am awed by what the screenwriters  added.  They did such an amazing job of building additional characters that were only hints in the book, of adding additional scenes.  Just brilliant. 

Offline M. Alexander

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Re: Poll: Film or Book -- Which was better?
« Reply #41 on: January 10, 2006, 11:49:55 AM »
Blairski and khal, I agree with both of you and want to add I wish I could have heard / seen Jack sayin' in the tent that first night: "gun's goin' OFF".. Whoo boy! :-*

It is so tought to decide which works better. You can't. Both works are sublime in their own right. It must be so thrilling for Annie Proulx see her work come to life so magnificently onto the screen. Particularly after "Shipping News".

I have to go on a trip now and don't know if I'll have access to a computer to follow this wonderful discussion. I so enjoy hearing each and every one of you all. I really feel as if I'm meeting people around the world - Sweden, Australia, U.K., all over the States. Talk about great therapy! What a wonderful bunch of people.

Can't wait to jump back in.

Offline aceygirl

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Re: Poll: Film or Book -- Which was better?
« Reply #42 on: January 10, 2006, 02:06:24 PM »
This is a great list, Khal, thanks.  Other things I wish were in the movie:

Conversations on topics other than bitching about beans.  The story lists a whole bunch of topics that you never see them discussing.  It would have been great to see their friendship develop more before the physical relationship started.

The story clearly states that their trips were all over the West, and that they never returned to Brokeback, but I think the implication for a viewer who hasn't read the story is that they return to Brokeback all the time.  Do others agree?



True. While I loved the beans-and-harmonica thing, it should've added to, not replaced, the camaraderie they built up that is described in the book (talking about submarines, jobs, etc.; "respecting each other's opinion"). Heath and Jake do an amazing job of building an on-screen chemistry despite this lack. And then again, BBM has more of a buildup than most Hollywood romances--which typically consist of a few sultry gazes and banter, then bed, and then happily ever after.

I thought they returned to BBM all the time in the movie. But when I think about it either-or, to me it doesn't matter. BBM is a symbol and no matter what part of "out in the middle of nowhere" they go to be together, it's BBM.

Offline PetterG

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Re: Poll: Film or Book -- Which was better?
« Reply #43 on: January 10, 2006, 02:41:41 PM »
BBM is a symbol and no matter what part of "out in the middle of nowhere" they go to be together, it's BBM.
I agree that BBM is a symbol so when they 'never returned to BBM', I understood it as: they never came back to that idyllic again, never really had that 'honeymoon' feeling as they had their first summer on BBM.
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Offline David

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Re: Poll: Film or Book -- Which was better?
« Reply #44 on: January 10, 2006, 06:38:13 PM »
You get what you need by going back and forth between the two.
The story feeds you more specific "proof" about Ennis' passion for Jack. The film gives you the visual emotional payoff that you need to withstand the story's tragic moments. . . I felt like the story does a better job of making me feel Ennis' devotion to Jack, while the film better depicts his sorrow.

Wow. What an insightful analysis.

The single biggest thing the film did better for me was to make me empathize more with Ennis. The visualization of him and all the complexity of the pain, anguish and inner turmoil Heath conveyed allowed me to finally accept his decision. Forgive him, essentially. I was so frustrated/mad at him after the book, but when the film was over, I understood. I didn't blame him any more.

So I guess the book was a bit sparse in character development, compared to what the film conveyed. Similarly with Jack, though to a lesser degree perhaps. But in the film Jake conveyed his giddy zest for life so much more. That might actually be a change in character from the book, I'd have to go back yet again. But he is so full of energy, happiness, joy in the film--I feel him so much more strongly as an individual, and like him so much more.

Dave, I have to say I kind of agree with one reviewer who found Jack off-putting. He was a loser and not good at much. If that is the way Jake and Ang decided to play him, it is brilliant. However, he sure loved Ennis and there are many things about the way Jake played Jack that endeared him to me.
The huge sadness of the Northern plains rolled down on him.