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Author Topic: At Jack's Parents  (Read 370028 times)

Offline Melisande

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At Jack's Parents
« on: January 07, 2006, 10:34:53 AM »
You can talk about Ennis' visit to Lightning Flat here in detail.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2006, 06:36:48 AM by peteinportland »
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Offline DaveL

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Re: Scene: At Jack's Parents
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2006, 10:16:38 PM »
This is the most beautifully acted scene, for the ensemble, in the film.
"Ennis del Mar wakes before five....The shirts hanging on a nail shudder slightly in the draft..It could be bad on the highway with the horsetrailer.He has to be packed and away from the place that morning...The wind strikes the trailer like a load of dirt coming off a dump truck, eases, dies...."

Offline peteinportland

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Re: Scene: At Jack's Parents
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2006, 08:09:10 AM »
IMO, the three scenes including the last scene with Jack/Ennis, the phone call scene, and this scene are the dramatic heart of this film. A devastating 20 minutes in film making and the best 20 minutes in the movies I have ever seen. And yes, IMO, the movie has a dramatic culmination in the scenes at Jack's parents.

Offline jack

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Re: Scene: At Jack's Parents
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2006, 06:45:37 PM »
IMHO, this is not a single, self-contained scene, it is a series of vignettes, for lack of a better term.  it is easily broken into 3 parts, at the kitchen table, up in jack's room, and leaving with the shirts.  however, the way my mind saw it, peculiarly, was almost a sentence or a gesture at a time.  i could have studied just about any series of frames and found technique, meaning and feeling. 

the three actors were each specatular at there job, and the house itself became a 4th member of the ensemble.  i was particularly taken by roberta maxwell, who shone without stealing the scene, and her interaction with heath ledger. 

watching heath ledger, in this scene alone proves that he did not just coast on jake gyllenhaal's emotional fields, but is posessed of enornous acting gifts that haven't even begun to be tapped.  just watching the tight shots of his face as john twist twists the knife in nhis guts is a movie in itself.

spectaclar, but hardly a "scene".   
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Offline canmark

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Re: Scene: At Jack's Parents
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2006, 08:34:40 PM »
I believe the term "sequence" is often used to describe a series of scenes that make up a whole--like sentances make up a paragraph. Jack's parent's house would be a sequence of three scenes (a scene changes when you change time or location): kitchen, Jack's bedroom, kitchen (I suppose technically there is the arrival outside the house, the stairway landing, and leaving, but we'll ignore that for now).
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Offline waynerman

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Re: Scene: At Jack's Parents
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2006, 08:51:24 PM »
Sequence, scene, or whatever you want to call it, this is the part of the movie that tore my heart out. To see Jack's mother's face, as she comes to understand who Ennis is, and why Jack was important to him...to see her understanding and compassion...

I would have given anything to see that understanding and compassion on my mother's face. It's too late now. She died eight years ago...without ever knowing (or did she?) that I was gay.
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Offline Pug

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Re: Scene: At Jack's Parents
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2006, 10:32:16 PM »
I keep playing the scene at Jack's parent's house over in my mind as I listen to track 15 on the CD. If memory serves me, the music takes that melancholy down turn as Ennis finds Jack's denim jacket. I listen to it often on the way to and from work and my eyes just swell up!
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Offline Nado

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Re: Scene: At Jack's Parents
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2006, 09:25:44 AM »
One of the questions that lingered for me after reading Proulx's book 100x over the last couple of years was, "Did Jack's parents know?"

It took 2 or 3 viewings of the BBM film to be able to answer, yes and with confidence:

1. When Ennis reenters the kitchen with the shirts, the father turns. Instead of fixing his gaze on Ennis, he blankly stares at the bloodstained shirts and follows them as Ennis walks across the room. He knew of the shirts existence the entire time. And instead of demanding that the shirts be returned, he doesn't say a word until the end of the scene.

2. When the mother turns to look at Ennis, she immediately sees the shirts and instinctively knows that they have found its rightful owner. It becomes clear that she knows this when she mercifully turns to get the paper bag for Ennis. The father continues to be silent.

3. Finally, it became clear to me that both parents had discussed, in depth, Jack's tragic fate, his sexuality, the shirts and even Ennis del Mar. I really believe that they accepted and validated Jack's sexuality. They may have even recognized the love Jack had for Ennis. The parents were obviously heartbroken and in pain throughout Ennis's visit, Jack's room was kept the way it was, the shirts were preserved, etc.

It led me to wonder what conversations did Jack have with his parents when he made stops at Lightning Flat. Did the parents encourage Jack to quit Ennis for they somehow knew that Ennis wasn't going to come help whip the ranch back into shape. They also seemed to accept that Jack had found a replacement to Ennis when he brought the rancher up from Texas.

Perhaps this is why the ashes weren't given to Ennis? Perhaps they felt he wasn't deserving? Perhaps they were angry with Ennis for making Jack unhappy? Perhaps they blamed Ennis for Jack's fate?
"It could be like this - just like this always." - Jack Twist

Offline Scott88

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Re: Scene: At Jack's Parents
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2006, 09:47:08 AM »
I think it's problematic to lump Jack's mother and father together when you ask the "they" questions, because they are polar opposites when it comes to the issue of Jack's sexuality and Jack & Ennis's relationship.

Jack's mother is a kind, compassionate woman who accepted her son's sexuality and paid Ennis the respect afforded a grieving spouse because she appreciated that her son had been loved.

In contrast, Jack's father was a hateful man whose disdain for his son's sexuality and his relationship with Ennis was abundantly clear.

It was equally clear, to me, that the refusal to give Jack's ashes to Ennis was a unilateral decision made by Jack's father.  Jack's mother is clearly regretful and uncomfortable with the decision; she nervously massages her neck when Jack's father announces the decision. 

In my view, Jack's mother has nothing but the utmost reverence for what Ennis and Jack shared, and she's genuinely grateful for the obvious love Ennis had showered upon Jack (the Roberta Maxwell interview is excellent on this point).  If it had been in her hands, she would have gladly given him the ashes so that Ennis could have spread them on the one place that had given their lives meaning. 

As a last note, I'm highly doubtful Jack's parents ever verbally discussed these issues.  But I agree there was an unspoken understanding of the situation, though, as I mentioned before, Jack's parents responded in radically different ways.  One with compassion and love, the other with ignorance and hatred.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2006, 09:50:11 AM by Scott88 »

Offline Nado

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Re: Scene: At Jack's Parents
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2006, 10:37:45 AM »
Interesting response.

Will have to think about this one. I'm not quite sure if the father's behavior was acted out of hatred or disdain. It could have instead been anger that was directed at Ennis for not having been able to make Jack the happy man he wanted to be.

The mother also seemed to be somewhat in control of the situation. The mother was the first one out the door upon Ennis's arrival. She also didn't look over to the father to seek consent to having the shirts leave with Ennis. She just went right for the paper bag. The mother knew where Brokeback Mountain was - if it was what she wanted, I think she could have easily gotten her way and brought the ashes to the mountain.

Nevertheless, regardless of whatever pain or unhappiness Jack experienced, it was his wish that his ashes be brought to Brokeback. No one, and not even a loving parent, should be denying that wish.

"It could be like this - just like this always." - Jack Twist

Offline Scott88

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Re: Scene: At Jack's Parents
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2006, 10:57:19 AM »
Quote
Will have to think about this one. I'm not quite sure if the father's behavior was acted out of hatred or disdain. It could have instead been anger that was directed at Ennis for not having been able to make Jack the happy man he wanted to be.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but I thought the actor who played the father very vividly conveyed the disdain and disgust he felt for his son (which, of course, included his sexuality).  "But like most of Jack's talk, none of it came to pass" -- this is not a man angry about Ennis not making Jack happy.  This is a man who had absolutely no affection or respect for his son.

And this is further evidenced by the bitter way Jack spoke of his father (never being able to please him, never teaching him how to rodeo, etc.).

Quote
The mother also seemed to be somewhat in control of the situation. The mother was the first one out the door upon Ennis's arrival. She also didn't look over to the father to seek consent to having the shirts leave with Ennis. She just went right for the paper bag. The mother knew where Brokeback Mountain was - if it was what she wanted, I think she could have easily gotten her way and brought the ashes to the mountain.

Oh, I'd disagree that Jack's mother had control over the decision about the ashes.  Yes, she snuck the shirts away (out of Jack's father's view), but that was an exceptional action taken by a woman who clearly lived in fear of (and in submission to) her husband.  Just look at her expression when Jack's father contempuously says they will be putting Jack's ashes in the family plot -- she's ashamed and very clearly heartbroken that her son's wishes won't be realized.  I'm certain she desired otherwise, but could not object to Jack's father out of her own fear of him.

But, yeah, the bottom line is the tragedy that Jack's wishes were ultimately not carried out.  Even beyond the grave, things didn't go his way.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2006, 11:06:39 AM by Scott88 »

Offline scot5636

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Re: Scene: At Jack's Parents
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2006, 11:55:13 AM »
I completely agree with Scott on this scene.  It's exactly how I interpreted it.  Jack's father is a mean, nasty SOB, who takes out his anger, frustrations and disappointments on anyone within reach.  On that remote farm, that would have been Jack (before he left) and Jack's mother.  Jack's mother walks on eggshells all the time, trying not to provoke her husband.  She's timid and fearful.  That's why her compassionate and tender treatment of Ennis is so heart-wrenching, because we know she is taking some risk by doing it.

And the meanness of Jack's father gets its fullest expression when he spits out (quite literally in that scene) that Jack had started talking about someone else to move up to the ranch with him.  He knows exactly who Ennis is, how much Jack meant to him, and how much pain he's in.  He throws that out because he knows it will hurt, and hurt badly.

I'm sure this has probably been raised somewhere else (and maybe it's even in the book -- I haven't seen it [getting a copy today]), but Jack was clearly run off by his father.  In the bar, after he and Ennis have just come from Agguire's (sp?) office, that's one of the first questions Jack asks Ennis -- did his parents run him off?  The way that line is delivered -- in such a matter-of-fact way -- it's clear that Jack assumes that's what happened.  And that assumption stems from his own experience.


But, yeah, the bottom line is the tragedy that Jack's wishes were ultimately not carried out.  Even beyond the grave, things didn't go his way.

I'm not sure I agree with this.  That specific wish might not have happened but, if you're Jack, with respect to that wish I think you might be pretty content with the idea that Ennis has taken those shirts that represent that treasured, perfect moment when they fell in love.  Brokeback Mountain was the idyllic setting, but the prize was Ennis.  And now, Ennis quite literally has a part of jack with him -- the blood in the shirt that has never been washed out.  The symbolism of blood in matters of the heart doesn't really need explanation.   To me, the tragedy of this specific piece of the story is that they were together after Jack's death in a manner that they were never capable of while he was alive. 

Offline Nado

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Re: Scene: At Jack's Parents
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2006, 12:02:09 PM »
I'm not sure I agree with this.  That specific wish might not have happened but, if you're Jack, with respect to that wish I think you might be pretty content with the idea that Ennis has taken those shirts that represent that treasured, perfect moment when they fell in love.  Brokeback Mountain was the idyllic setting, but the prize was Ennis.  And now, Ennis quite literally has a part of jack with him -- the blood in the shirt that has never been washed out.  The symbolism of blood in matters of the heart doesn't really need explanation.   To me, the tragedy of this specific piece of the story is that they were together after Jack's death in a manner that they were never capable of while he was alive. 

Beautifully said. I agree with both of your perspectives now. Thanks for sharing!
"It could be like this - just like this always." - Jack Twist

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Re: Scene: At Jack's Parents
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2006, 12:08:04 PM »
After Ennis offers to take the ashes, Jack's father says, with a look of disdain and hatred, "Tell you what, I know WHERE Brokeback Mountain is..".

This reminded me of the earlier scene in Aguirre's trailer, when Jack returns the second summer seeking both work and Ennis, and Aguirre says, with a similiarly evil expression and tone of voice, that he knew about their relationship.

I think this is another of Ang's parallel scenes, with the subtext that Jack's father is really saying, I know WHAT Brokeback Mountain is, meaning, I know what YOU are, and what you were to my boy...

I agree that the father was also disgusted with Jack for never carrying through on his plans, and the wife was afraid of him, as both Scotts have described, but I also think there is another layer here of homophobia.

Offline David

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Re: Scene: At Jack's Parents
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2006, 02:34:03 PM »
I have a different take on the last scene. Previous posters have suggested that Jack's father, John, was not quite the man he used to be, perhaps either compromised physically or mentally or both. He looks right at the shirts as Ennis is walking by...they are not hidden from his view. He says nothing about them. I think that John Twist is a bitter, aged man (maybe not all there mentally) who is more upset that he didn't get help with his farm, than who Ennis was or even Jack's death. He may have known on a deeply subconscious level about Jack and who Ennis would have been to Jack, but I don't think this man would have ever allowed those thoughts to reach the surface of conscious thought.

I was surprised to read that Annie P. sent her note to Roberta Maxwell confirming that Jack's mom did know who Ennis was to Jack. But I guess women/mom's are generally more intuitive.
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