The Ultimate Brokeback Forum

Author Topic: The Structure of the Movie and Film Editing  (Read 128832 times)

Offline chris04seattle

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Re: Element: The Structure of the Movie and Film Editing
« Reply #30 on: February 05, 2006, 01:00:26 AM »
I don't know where to put it, but wouldn't it be sort of fun, or at least interesting, to see a tally of how many times everyone has seen Brokeback? I have seen it 4 times, yet I wish I could say 10! 

welcome sand
I too was once a Virgin :-)

just wanted to point out that you can find this discussion (# of times we have seen the film) 
look under 'The Impact'
then "Brokeback Fever Support Group"

I am 9x this Sunday and still counting ...
I think after watching this brilliant film many many times many of us in those postings have felt the need to share
Brokeaholics that we have become
and thats where our support group is  ;)

having now seen it 4x urself you might be needin' some  :-*

"as always, nothing ended, nothing begun, nothing resolved" Brokeback Mountain (Annie Proulx on Jack & Ennis and their last time together on the mountain)

Offline Martin

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Re: Element: The Structure of the Movie and Film Editing
« Reply #31 on: February 07, 2006, 09:56:13 AM »
It's unnecessary to jam the structure of "Brokeback Mountain" into a theatrical frame of "Acts. It's much simpler: Brokeback and not Brokeback. This binary structure is continued fluidly in the whole film, where doubling is enacted as balance and contrast.

It starts with such simple things as the composition of shots: a mountain river flows downhill while a herd of sheep flows uphill; the two tents are separated with Jack in the foreground and the tiny glowing light of Ennis' campfire far below. We get a deep-focus view into the distance from the small tent opening from Ennis' point of view "the morning after."

The opening night-shot is of a truck moving in one direction across the scree, balanced by a shot towards the end, with Ennis' horse-trailer moving in the opposite direction, also at night, and against the same scenery. (Surely the opening shot is inspired by the first shot of "Hud"--as is the ending--both films end with doors shutting.)

A great many shots show the characters in extreme close-up, in contrast with the long shots of them of them dwarfed by nature. There ae few middle-distance shots. One of them, showing the two shirtless teenagers love-wrestling, is ominously soundless. We discover that our point of view is that of Aguirre looking through his binoculars (another two-way view).

This balance is more obviously structural in the doubling of many scenes: there are the two Thanksgiving turkeys, for example:

Or Ennis "putting the blocks" to the waitress as Jack is starting his affair with the foreman. Both scenes have the protagonists dancing, and the contrast between their different styles is obvious.

Jack sings happily along with the radio in his pickup to see Ennis after the divorce. He returns after his devastating rejection seen from the same angle, in tears.

Thematically, there is the obvious contrast throughout between life on the "flatlands" of mundane, daily married life in society, and the intimate trysts in the mountains, where no one, as Ennis always fears, is watching. This reinforces the motifs of "inside" and "outside"--of houses, tents, trailers, closets, faces, and landscapes.

All the doubling is naturally a perfect fit for a love story which involves two contrasting characters, one dark, the other blond; one extrovert, the other taciturn; one promiscuous, the other essentially monogamous, who are really trying to become one person. Alas, this only happens with the film's central doubling image of the two shirts, first shown with with Jack's over Ennis', then at the end, the other way around.

This switch is not in Proulx's story, and is not a clever ploy by director to show off his two-by-two template. Ennis' shirt at last tenderly and protectively embraces Jack's--when it is too late. And anyway, they are inanimate objects and inadequate substitutes for the real thing; but they are all Ennis is left with.And they are still in the closet.

The rhythmic alternatoion brilliantly moves the whole film forward. It's an authentic cinematic equivalent of Proulx's "year on year" passing of time. So when one of the lives suddenly falls out of the binary scheme with the brutal, indifferent stamp of "Deceased", it's shocking, like having a limb removed.

Those critics who have found it "slow" are trapped in the expectation of a conventional exposition/development/climax/denouement structure. But "Brokeback" has its eyes on the course, not on the finish; because there isn't one--there can't be one. There are scenes towards the end of the movie when time appears to move more and more slowly, reflecting Jack's poignant "There is never enough time, never enough."

Lee's structure, balancing images, frames, and stories in a narrative and NOT a plot, is essentially poetic. It's this richness that makes people want to go and see "Brokeback" again and again.

[A few notes:

1. Ang Lee could have made the contrast even stronger by following Annie Proulx's description of the characters: one tall and thin, the other short and husky. And Ennis' shirt in the film is clean and new-looking, while Proulx says it's got a torn pocket and has buttons missing.

2. Lee does not make it explicit, as Proulx does, that the two lovers NEVER visit Brokeback again.

3. A comment on the Oscars while on the subject of doubling: why is Gyllenhaal up for a supporting actor when his work in the film is equal to Ledger's, certainly in terms of screen time. Does the Academy assume that it's impossible to have leads of the same gender? Is this structurally anti-gay? Many of us would clearly be thrilled if the two actors could stand up there sharing the same award.]

Offline Nessie

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Re: Element: The Structure of the Movie and Film Editing
« Reply #32 on: February 07, 2006, 05:24:01 PM »
There were a couple of things I thought could have been done better with the structure of the movie,though I'm pretty certain the structure we see was very deliberate.

My main gripe is that you hardly get a glimpse of what Jack and Ennis have for each other...which then leaves the post-card arriving four years later something of an oddity.  Especially they way they react when the see each other.  So, on my first viewing of the film, I was pulled out of the movie experience a lot because it seemed fake. 

Fortunately, you get the hugely romantic scene of Ennis nuzzling up to Jack by the fire....then Ennis rides out for the evening sheep-tending duties..leaving Jack dreamily watching him leave.  At that point, I understood what all the fuss and excitement between the two had been, but had already slouched through a large portion of the movie.

Back to the structure, I think this tender scene absolutely should have been shown in context of the time it actually happened.  A nice twist would have been to not show Jack's dreamy stare at this point...

Then later at the end, show the scene again but now with Jack staring on dreamily....then transition to today with his pissed off angry look on his face.

Offline ingmarnicebbmt

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Re: Element: The Structure of the Movie and Film Editing
« Reply #33 on: February 09, 2006, 04:04:12 AM »
Some observations on the structure of the movie as far as the number of people involved are concerned in the majority of scenes.

I'd say more than 75 % of the scenes are dialogues, two people present.
Jack and Ennis, Ennis and Alma, Jack and Lureen dominate.

Scenes with three people in them : Aguirre scene in the beginning (instructions) and at the end, when they count the sheep ("you're never no good").
Ennis and Jack's parents at the end.
Cassie and Alma jr and Ennis (but Ennis standing far away: jukebox scene).
Ennis and Cassie and Cassie's new fling (but the new guy standing far away).
Alma, Ennis and Jack after the reunion hugs and kisses.
Jack, the clown and the bartender.

Four or more people:
Lureen & Jack & Randall & wife in restaurant (dancing hall).
The two Thanksgiving dinners.
Jack's son's birth (scene at the hospital).
Fourth of july aggression scene.
Ennis yelling at Alma leaving for an extra shift (push you, girls?).
Ennis & Jack and the two girls in the car in the post-divorce scene.

I think that's it more or less - isn't that amazing? Almost always this concentration on only two souls? Explains the intensity of the entire movie.

Scenes with one person alone:
Ennis's arrival in Signal (opening scene)
Jack's joyful departure for Wyoming after the divorce postcard
Jack's sad departure from Wyoming after the rejection
Ennis almost throwing up
Ennis at the letterbox and later in front of the closet 'I swear'
Ennis in Jack's childhood room, finding the shirts.

Could all of you add something?
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Offline hybrid

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Re: Element: The Structure of the Movie and Film Editing
« Reply #34 on: February 09, 2006, 09:58:56 AM »
It seems to me that the movie is really sturctured around point of view. That is, Lee has set the film up to gradually draw us in and to see the world the way Ennis sees the world. We get to know Ennis in a way we never get to know Jack. From the phone call on, we literally follow Ennis around. In the scene in which Jack gets killed, we are in Ennis imagination. We follow Ennis around, finding out with him what can be found out about Jack. In the final shot we may be actually looking through Ennis' eyes, and we don't even realize it, don't even realize our identification with him has become that complete. We may have become Ennis, or audience may have become Ennis' only friend standing beside Ennis looking out the window with him.

This is the real breakthrough of the film- that the audience is invited to identify with, and see the world from the point of view of a closeted gay man.

Offline peteinportland

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Re: Element: The Structure of the Movie and Film Editing
« Reply #35 on: February 15, 2006, 01:39:23 AM »
I want to broaden this topic a bit and include film editing. I've heard many complaints about the editing of the film (it wasn't nominated for an Oscar). Do you think there are places where the editing should have been different? Should there have been more or less of one scene or maybe shown a different scene all together or cut one out?

Offline DaveL

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Re: Element: The Structure of the Movie and Film Editing
« Reply #36 on: February 17, 2006, 11:37:43 PM »
No the editing was as good as could be when you try to put 20 years into 2 hours.

On alternation (binary or otherwise), the clearest example is the final parting, trailhead parking lot, May 1983: Jack starting "why is it always we're in the f---- cold?..."  He is shot with the lake and mountains always in the background, Ennis in his responses with the truck as his.  It would become tedious were it not for the mangnificence of Jack's framing. (Jack in this scene is like Goethe's "eternal feminine leads us on" (or like Daisy in the Great Gatsby if you prefer)); Ennis in the responses is dragged back to the decrept truck.)  Editing in this scene is brilliant.

Book is quite different from the film.  Time is fluid, and so is focus,   from  the minute, e.g., moss and sounds the stones make when stepped upon, to "great sadness of the Northern Plains".  Time speeds up and slows down, sometimes in the same paragraph.  Narrative perspective changes from "Two deuces going nowhere" to "Ennis did not know about the accident until..." to "the shirts hanging a nail shudder slightly in the draft". One curious thing about the technique is the author doesn't try to tell us what the two protagonists are "thinking" from the interior.  And that's a drawback with Ennis, because, unlike say Hamlet or King Lear, he can't articulate much.  I guess that's why Ledger really should win the O, mastering all those tiny facial muscles to make up for Ennis' lack of articulation.  He's one actor who had better never touch Botox--it would ruin his technique.  In the book, a lot of his part is implied, not written down; the extra lines in the trailhead scene, though not many, nevertheless seems superfluous.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2006, 11:50:13 PM by DaveL »
"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 gnash

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Re: Element: The Structure of the Movie and Film Editing
« Reply #37 on: February 18, 2006, 10:43:43 AM »
continuity? in the last scene with jack and ennis together, ennis is shown with his head down as he's listening to jack go on about how he's been to mexico. they show several shots and his head is down in all but one. they cut and it's a profile, head is up. then they cut immediately to show his head from another camera angle and it's down.

this quick cut up-down-up of ennis head seems bothersome, like he's bobbing for apples.

the other flaw is the grocery store, peanut jars that topple but miraculously stack themselves AFTER monroe says "REALLY ALMA, it's okay, i'll get it...."   just before, however, when he says "okay. it's okay it's okay alma," they're still spilled everywhere.

it he really THAT good at making things better?

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


Offline DaveL

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Re: Element: The Structure of the Movie and Film Editing
« Reply #38 on: February 18, 2006, 12:54:42 PM »
GNASH, remember even the most magnificent oriental carpets always have one flaw, intentional, because only Allah is perfect.
"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 tfferg

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Re: Element: The Structure of the Movie and Film Editing
« Reply #39 on: February 18, 2006, 11:16:00 PM »
I want to broaden this topic a bit and include film editing. I've heard many complaints about the editing of the film (it wasn't nominated for an Oscar).

Well, it's been nominated for the BAFTA editing award.

I think the editing is what helps to make the film so nuanced. The highly emotional scenes are all very short: I'm thinking of the reunion kiss, all the sex scenes, and the physical fighting and the murder scenes. In addition, the fighting and sex scenes are filmed in extremely tight close-ups and with such camera angles so that we almost feel the impact of the physical contact rather than see it. Such a contrast with most movies that show such scenes in more explicit and exaggerated detail, together with heavy sound effects. But Ang Lee and his editors achieve a greater emotional impact. The murder scenes flash on and off the screen so rapidly they're almost subliminal, contributing to the feeling that they are such powerful images in Ennis' mind and memory and the effect is of real horror (not the artificially whipped-up horror of horror movies).

Ang Lee's technique and Annie Proulx's writing style put me in mind of classical Chinese writers/poets/painters who sketch in significant texts and images, but leave the reader/viewer to fill in the unrepresented details and the main point or conclusion. They allude rather than explain because they assume the reader/viewer is an intelligent partner in a dialogue.

Offline gnash

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Re: Element: The Structure of the Movie and Film Editing
« Reply #40 on: February 19, 2006, 10:20:28 AM »
GNASH, remember even the most magnificent oriental carpets always have one flaw, intentional, because only Allah is perfect.

...and what if the carpet has two? ;) :D  cast the children who make them to hell? ;D

may i ask, where is the mention of the ranch that ennis works called the coffeepot? you've mentioned it a few times. you know how i like the coffeepots, heh.. i've been looking for that bit as i peruse the book for quotes, can't find it,,, is it in the original screenplay?

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


Offline Ryan

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Re: Element: The Structure of the Movie and Film Editing
« Reply #41 on: February 19, 2006, 09:04:38 PM »
Another editing question.... the "grocery store scene" was brought up on Dave's main site, as part of a 'Deleted Scenes' topic.  (It linked to a separate message board, where there was some discussion and confusion about it).

Does anyone have insight into this scene??  One thought was that Ennis drops off the girls at the store with Alma since he's "been called to work" -- but actually he is most likely going to meet up with Jack again. In fact, someone said that the next scene (which was deleted) was showing Jack and Ennis riding in a truck together.  But then it was also mentioned this couldn't be the case, since this scene occurred BEFORE JAck and Ennis had their reunion. 

I've seen the film 4 times, but I can't remember the exact placement of this scene! It's not in the movie screenplay. At first I thought it was merely put in so that we could be introduced to Monroe, so that when we see Alma married to him later, we are a bit familiar with him.

Any thoughts???   This is the one scene that bugs me a bit. If the chronology is right, it would make sense that Ennis is going to get together with Jack again, but Ang Lee wishes to keep us guessing about it, and not make things too blatant (probably like the doubts and questions that would be going through Alma's mind).  Any insight would be appreciated!

Offline gnash

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Re: Element: The Structure of the Movie and Film Editing
« Reply #42 on: February 20, 2006, 02:14:01 AM »
hi ryan,

the scene takes place according to the screenplay right after lureen's t-bird breast baring and right before the birth of their baby. so you're right, it does happen before the boys meet, and it makes sense now that they cut the scene of jack and ennis in the truck together.

it was probably filmed to take place after the reunion scene, but ang decided it was a nice way to split up the t-bird scene and her birth scene. in a way, it serves to illustrate the hardships of having children when both parents have to work. the juggling of kids, hiring of babysitters or getting sisters to help out, etc.

so when you think about the scene now, you must try to forget about the truck scene that was later cut out entirely, and just goe with the notion that ennis was indeed called into work. the important things to remember here are:

1. monroe was available for alma, and was able to make everything okay for alma. really okay.

2. ennis was abusive to alma by threatening her with that awful stare and was not respectful of her work situation -- remember the later scene when she goes to work and he explodes despite the fact that she made dinner. he says, "no one's eatin it unless you're servin' it." how moronic is that? is it a challenge to his masculinity? while he used to cook up on brokeback, he wouldn't mind jack doing the more domestic work.

3. something overlooked, maybe for a reason: ennis likes round steak.

get it? round steak, tube steak?  ;D ;)

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


Offline Scott88

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Re: Element: The Structure of the Movie and Film Editing
« Reply #43 on: February 20, 2006, 09:40:41 AM »
Actually, I don't believe the scene in the grocery store was ever meant to be seen as a "pretext" for meeting up with Jack. 

There's nothing whatsoever in the original script that matches what the poster described.  There IS a scene, post-reunion, where Ennis stops by the grocery store and asks Alma for some cigarettes -- clearly, a lot of tension between the two -- but it's unrelated to any "trip" with Jack.

I actually recall Diana saying that one of the few major changes Ang wanted was to move back "a scene with Alma" to an earlier portion of the film.  I believe this would be the scene in question, as it now appears pre-reunion in the final film.

Additionally, the deleted shot of Jack and Ennis in the truck from the trailer?  Again, there is nothing in the orginal script about Jack and Ennis returning from a trip.  There is, however, a scene of the two boys being driven in a truck to the drop-off point the morning after they went to the bar (this is pre-Brokeback Mountain).  That's why Ennis is seen closing his eyes in pain--the script notes he is really hungover, while Jack is awake and alert.

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Re: Element: The Structure of the Movie and Film Editing
« Reply #44 on: February 20, 2006, 12:08:04 PM »
There is, however, a scene of the two boys being driven in a truck to the drop-off point the morning after they went to the bar (this is pre-Brokeback Mountain).  That's why Ennis is seen closing his eyes in pain--the script notes he is really hungover, while Jack is awake and alert.

That's interesting.  It would show that Jack could hold his drink better than Ennis...and fits in with the first tent scene where despite drinking much of the day Jack is in better shape than Ennis come bedtime.