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Author Topic: Alma & Lureen  (Read 144930 times)

jet

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #30 on: January 03, 2006, 11:16:36 PM »
personally, i saw ennis as a guy struggling to be a responsible man, something all men struggle with. he was in an odd situation, because, on the one hand, the first person he slept with was jack (i believe this is true, since he has that line about never having the pleasure to indulge in "sin" in response to jack's saying that, according to the pentecost, they were both going to march off to hell). on the other hand, he married alma. it was like jack came in and sort of became the honeymoon before the wedding. i suppose if there was ever a time to call off the wedding, it was right when he got back, but since he didn't, probably continuing to tell himself in his mind that the thing with jack was a one shot deal, i admire him for trying to follow through on his vows. in the end, of course, he fails to do this. but i think it's unlikely that ennis would have cheated on alma had jack not tracked him down four years later. he certainly didn't look to stir up trouble by going to look for jack. to see how excited he was to see jack, of course, showed how much he was missing this experience, but even then he recognized his responsibilities to the family to the degree that, even with the fishing trips, he wasn't going to leave alma and the kids. she left him.
jack had little sense of this responisibility it seemed, he seemed prepared to just dash off with ennis and forget about his kid and wife like it never happened.

Offline Jeff2

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #31 on: January 03, 2006, 11:28:55 PM »
Just a take on the larger question of why the women's tragedies are getting short shrift, so far. I really think the light cast by this story/movie is blinding at first. I mean, it's like a laser shot at the entire tragedy of homophobic culture. It's hard to take in the breadth and depth of the destructive forces that have been at work for so many generations. So people take pieces of it and run with what they can carry.
"As soon as we have the thing before our eyes, and in our hearts an ear for the word, thinking prospers." - Martin Heidegger

Offline doodler

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #32 on: January 03, 2006, 11:42:21 PM »


I must beg to differ in that Ennis marries ALma,, AFTER Brokeback Mountain... so he had just had the soul shattering experience of his life iwth Jack.. but still went ahead and married her. all the rest I agree with... in terms of detrimental social conditioning etc, but he knew what he was doing when he married Alma... he just never was able to act on his passion for Jack for all the aforementioned reasons that you outlined

Any number of straight marriages occur after one party or the other has a passionate encounter with someone else and chooses to ignore/lie about it, going through with the wedding anyway. That very subject is the premise of any number of films. It really doesn't matter that Ennis' experience was with another man... it would have been the same lie if it had been with a woman.
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Offline Dathan

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #33 on: January 04, 2006, 01:02:29 AM »
Audience reaction to Alma's realization was quite different tonight, rather 4 hours ago, than when I went to the full house before Christmas.  At the pre Christmas show the audience howled and I couldn't believe it but I think it starts like a nervous reaction for most and then everyone goes along.  We are like dogs in a pack sometimes.  But last night the audience was much smaller, about 150 people, and they gasp when Alma looked out the door and saw Ennis and Jack embracing.  Only a couple of snickers.  It's difficult to NOT feel her pain.  Especially with the great job Williams does with the role.
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Offline SebFlyte

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #34 on: January 04, 2006, 01:06:18 AM »

yeah, that really disturbed me, too. gave me the shivers.

[/color]
On the first three viewings, yes. Tonight, on the fourth viewing, I remembered the words of Euripides' Jason to Medea:

It would have been better far for men
To have got children in some other way, and women
Not to have existed. Then life would have been good.

Cruel, but reflects the ultimate male ideal -- the entire scene ot E and J's reunion is an embodiment of it, whether you like it or not. 

Offline peteinportland

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #35 on: January 04, 2006, 04:05:51 AM »
Scott, I really enjoyed your posts in this thread and second much of what you say.

I don't think the laughter is funny ha-ha laughter. It is akin to the laughter one hears when watching people get hurt in America's Funniest Home Videos, sort of a cringing laughter. People laugh because, especially for those unawares, it is a "you got busted" sort of moment. People are not laughing at Alma's pain but at her discovery. A bit of an "aww shit, what is going to happen now" sort of laughter. I've seen this same type of "you're busted" laughter in movies where a straight spouse/partner catches the other cheating. Why should it be any different here? In my experience, the audience has always settled down quickly and absorbed the real pain Alma is feeling. I think you guys are reading way too much into the laughter.

Lynn,  I too, like the idea of personal responsibility, but I think the film makers do a good job of showing a very real alternative view: the tire iron awaits for those who step too far out of bounds. Would you really suggest that these two men live ostracized by their communities and in daily fear of their lives? Today in many countries (especially Muslim ones), gay men are still forced into marriages to hide who they are. There is a horrific picture that made the Internet rounds of two teenagers being hung in Iran because they were discovered together. What choice does their society give to them?

Even today, in America, are gay men and women really given a choice, especially in rural areas? Queers (and I use this term to refer to all GLBTQIA people) do not have the choices you have as a straight person. My gosh, we are all celebrating a movie that depicts real love between two men because it is the first BIG Hollywood picture to ever show a gay love story. And it is 2005! DOMA laws are the rule of the land. Even today, we can't enjoy the same federally recognized marriage that you can enjoy (and reap the many benefits of it), and certainly Ennis and Jack could not in the 1960s. Homophobia is still rampant in our society and in our institutions (schools, churches, military). Gay men can't be big movie stars and still have a career. We can't be generals, or priests, or Presidents, or cowboys, or oil field roughnecks, or professional athletes. We can't be assured that our families, and our friends, and our churches will accept us if we come out. So, before you tell us we have the choice to choose another path, walk a mile in our shoes, and tell me what choice many gay men have if they want to hold onto the lives they were brought up in and that they cherish? Wouldn't it be better to simply get married and hope the feelings for other men pass so that one does not lose family, friends, and community? Sadly, if Jack and Ennis were 19 yo men in Wyoming today, I still don't think they would have had much choice if they wanted to stay cowboys and professional rodeo bull riders. So what are the options for the Jacks and Ennis today? The last big news out of Wyoming was of a young gay man being tied to a fence and beat to death. Personal responsibility, indeed.

For me, these women are victims of society just as much as Ennis and Jack are. You can't convince me for a moment that they are victims of Ennis or Jack. The code of the American West during that time and its brutal treatment of gay men is to blame for their pain. I, for one, am certainly not going to make two confused, frightened, uneducated rural boys responsible for the only decisions they really had available to them, no matter how much pain and suffering those decisions caused in the end. This gay man will not lay that on their shoulders.

lynn

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #36 on: January 04, 2006, 05:39:40 AM »
well said, Pete, lots of "food for thought" in your post.

Offline aceygirl

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #37 on: January 04, 2006, 11:42:17 AM »
Scott and Dave, I can agree that at a macro level creating an atmosphere of tolerance and options means fewer bad choices (aka Almas). But even in such an enlighted environment couldn't there still be men who didn't know they were gay until after marriage? They then have to make a choice as to what to do, hopefully minimizing everyone's pain?

This is a touchy subject, there are many guys here that fit that last sentence and don't need me to criticize or judge them. I'm just saying that I'm not sure how well most "straights" will get this argument and make the connection to daughters and sisters.

There are also the cases of men "on the down low"--more or less bisexual men who are committed to and don't want to give up their wives and families, but go cruising for male sex on the sly.

I truly believe (unfortunately) that no matter how tolerant a society, there will always be some few who make bad choices--who might even get off on "getting away" with something, with cheating, with making conquests, or who use sex to fulfill something empty inside, regardless of the pain it causes others. That goes above and beyond issues of sexual orientation. However, having an open and tolerant society would certainly benefit those who don't want to make bad choices but feel trapped--like Ennis and Jack, in my opinion.

At the Chelsea audience on the movie's opening night, the mostly gay audience kinda laughed at Alma's face and the subsequent zooming off of the boys, but it didn't seem derisive to me. More like shocked, gasping nervous laughs and maybe some knowing, sarcastic chuckles at the lame lies Ennis gave as he ran off.

Jack does come off as rather callous toward the women in the film...i.e. "You call that thing with Alma a life?" to which Ennis retorts: "You shut up about Alma!" And he talks about how Lureen's eyes are getting smaller and meaner and about their marriage failing--which surely to a large extent is because of him! But that's fine, because these are complex characters with both flaws and assets. I guess I would have been curious as to his relationship with his  mom, though.

One of my closest friends, a gay male, commented first on the acting performances of the women and cried during some of their moments. I have to admit, I was first and foremost focused on the two men, but seeing the movie again made me more attuned to the women than at first. Especially the mother at the end, and Ennis's daughter.


Offline Wayman Wong

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #38 on: January 04, 2006, 02:17:44 PM »
When Alma discovers Ennis and Jack kissing, that's heartbreaking. I've been in an audience where there was laughter, and in another one, where there were gasps. I'd like to think the former was nervous laughter at the awkwardness of the situation. To me, it's more of a case where Ennis and Jack think they're getting away with something, and they're busted. Earlier in the movie, the audience laughed after Aguirre discovered the guys frolicking with their shirts off. They weren't laughing at Aguirre; they were laughing at the guys getting discovered and thinking, ''Oh, boy, they're in trouble now.'' ... The way the camera lingers on Alma, makes it clear that we're meant to feel her pain. I can't imagine anyone watching Michelle Williams and not feeling Alma's anguish.

Offline sayitaintso

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #39 on: January 04, 2006, 02:53:12 PM »
As deep as Alma was hurt, she built a new life.  She said nothing at the time of the divorce that would  have taken away Ennis visitation rights.  She invited her heartbreaking, cheating, queer  ex  into her new  home for Thanksgiving dinner,  And I got the sense that if he would have shown some remorse over what he had put her through, she would have forgiven him in some way, too.  He ddesn't (IIRC) she gets pissed off and reads him a bill of particulars.  But she never tries to keep the kids away from him.

So this is my reflection on Alma and Ennis.  Divorce used to be expected to be ugly, final, total.  I was thinking yesterday that this is the way the world changes.  Alma had to have made a decision to keep Ennis in the girls' life.  Not because she read a gay rights tract, but because she knew they would need him. Every day, working class families in places no one has ever heard of  accepting some pieces of conventional wisdom and rejecting others. 

So I was also  pissed off at Jack when he looks so incredulous that Ennis being divorced does not equal Ennis being single and free .

Offline Meira

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #40 on: January 04, 2006, 04:36:31 PM »
In the 4 audiences I have been in, 2 urban, 2 suburban, there was no outright laugjter at Alma when she opens the door to find Ennis and Jack kissing.  There was audible gasping - myself included.   The women's stories were subplots, and while I felt their pain (especially Alma's) I was so taken with the main subjects' relationshiop and the depth of feeling they portrayed that I haven't really got back to thinking as deeply about the other characters.

One aspect of the story that I focused on the last time (my 4th viewing) was Ennis' barely contained violence.  Alma was clearly afraid of him.  This is made clear in the grocery when he dumps the kids on her, and again at the 4th of July gathering - you can see her terrified face whispering to the kids as she cowers nearby when Ennis threatens the 2 guys behind them.  Then, in the kitchen after Thanksgiving dinner, when she finally confronts him, he does lash out at her physically, confirming her fears.  This is abuse.  Nothing excuses it.  Perhaps it is yet another aspect of the film that makes the whole thing work so believably;  these are flawed and very real characters, and we develop our own relationship to each one of htem.  The more I see the film, the more I feel like I'm watching a a close friend's "this is your life' kind of review.  I feel like I know and love each one of them like they were my own family.  I don't like his violence and I can't excuse it, but I still adore Ennis and feel his pain and anguish!
..your laughter's the wind in my sails....

Offline gnash

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #41 on: January 04, 2006, 05:03:06 PM »
In the 4 audiences I have been in, 2 urban, 2 suburban, there was no outright laugjter at Alma when she opens the door to find Ennis and Jack kissing. There was audible gasping - myself included. The women's stories were subplots, and while I felt their pain (especially Alma's) I was so taken with the main subjects' relationshiop and the depth of feeling they portrayed that I haven't really got back to thinking as deeply about the other characters.

One aspect of the story that I focused on the last time (my 4th viewing) was Ennis' barely contained violence. Alma was clearly afraid of him. This is made clear in the grocery when he dumps the kids on her, and again at the 4th of July gathering - you can see her terrified face whispering to the kids as she cowers nearby when Ennis threatens the 2 guys behind them. Then, in the kitchen after Thanksgiving dinner, when she finally confronts him, he does lash out at her physically, confirming her fears. This is abuse. Nothing excuses it. Perhaps it is yet another aspect of the film that makes the whole thing work so believably; these are flawed and very real characters, and we develop our own relationship to each one of htem. The more I see the film, the more I feel like I'm watching a a close friend's "this is your life' kind of review. I feel like I know and love each one of them like they were my own family. I don't like his violence and I can't excuse it, but I still adore Ennis and feel his pain and anguish!

totally!  :::shudders::: ...that look he gives her in the ketchup aisle, spooky as all get out.


i heard a song today: "falling in love with someone i shouldn't have fallen in love with"  by.. the buzzcocks? old song, kinda catchy, but with Brokeback Fever running so high, the first thing thing i thought about was the plight of alma.  this song,,, it really fits her situation!

Ever Fallen In Love With Someone / Buzzcocks

You spurn my natural emotions
You make me feel like dirt
And I'm hurt
And if I start a commotion
I run the risk of losing you
And that's worse

I can't see much of a future
Unless we find out what's to blame
What a shame
And we won't be together much longer
Unless we realize that we are the same

Ever fallen in love with someone
Ever fallen in love
In love with someone
Ever fallen in love
In love with someone
You shouldn't've fallen in love with????



"unless we find out what's to blame..."  -- indeed, only she found out pretty much right away!

"Brokeback is about a lost paradise, an Eden."  Ang Lee


Offline zachUK

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #42 on: January 04, 2006, 05:25:06 PM »

I agree with our host about his reasons for starting this topic. In particular, about changing how society views gay relationships and hence we all are stronger. I hurt one woman in my life more than I'd ever, ever wish to hurt anyone - I will always live with the shame of that. The real way to get rid of the kind of pain Alma had to endure is to have a society where we can all be who we are inately.

I grew up near where this movie was filmed ... to survive, I had to leave. Isn't it time to take the freedom gained back to all the Brokeback Mountains?

kumari

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #43 on: January 04, 2006, 06:14:51 PM »
This topic is so huge, it is hard to know where to begin.
Laughter- I am a straight woman married to a bisexual man (who did not know his identity when he married me) and I laughed at the reunion scene. Why? Because it was filmed in a slightly comical way. There is something absurd about the two of them making out in broad daylight and there is no way around it.
There is no dichotomy in this story; no "either, or." The themes in this story are "both, and."
Ennis and Jack's love is pure and beautiful and a lot of people get hurt because of it.
That is how life is.
The destructive power of homophobia is not the only negative force at work in this story. There are hints of domestic violence, child abuse (Jack and his father), poverty, and substandard rural education. All of these factors create a perfect storm of circumstances: Ennis was not Alma's only tragedy.
That is what makes the story so rich. You can see how the lack of choices in this time period and environment affected the women and their children.

Offline zachUK

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #44 on: January 04, 2006, 06:24:41 PM »
Quote
The destructive power of homophobia is not the only negative force at work in this story. There are hints of domestic violence, child abuse (Jack and his father), poverty, and substandard rural education. All of these factors create a perfect storm of circumstances: Ennis was not Alma's only tragedy.

I agree entirely ... the confluence of all these negative forces does indeed create a perfect storm. Perhaps another force is that of submissive, subservient roles expected of women, then and even now.