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Author Topic: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar  (Read 469665 times)

Offline peteinportland

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2006, 01:23:16 AM »
Good god, all you virgin posters are blowing me away with your insights! Where did yall come from? Just keep coming back. Please!

Nyboy, I never contrasted Jack and Ennis dancing in those two scenes. It does speak greatly to their personalities, doesn't it? Both get hit on in those scenes too (Ennis by Cassie and Jack by Randall).

Lekttronnorth, that was a beautiful post. It is amazing the games parents play with their children, isn't it. This movie speaks a great deal about parent's relationships with their children. Thanks for sharing your personal story as it gives me more insight into the characters.




Offline alma

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2006, 05:04:02 AM »

One of the most revealing scenes with Ennis is when Alma & his war against each other (it's a cold war according to Annie's story) is going on.  Alma's doing her overtime at the store - (does anyone think she's having an affair with the store manager - he fancies her enough to clear up the wreckage of the shop display...) and Ennis follows her to the corner, screaming that no-one's going to eat the dinner unless she serves it.  He then stops, asks the kids if they need a push on their swings, kicks over a trashcan, and storms up the stairs.


Yes, I thought that she might be having an affair. It's not explicit, but the movie does lay groundwork for that interpretation. When she storms off to the store and doesn't really have much of a reason, it struck me that she was in "flight."


Offline alma

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2006, 05:06:10 AM »
Can anyone shed light on the fireworks scene?

I noticed in my third viewing how appalled Alma looks when Ennis kicks goes after those two burly guys. She keeps looking over at Ennis like she had no idea he had that in him.

I wondered about it structurally in the story. Is it just to let us see that he's a tough guy or is there more going on there?

Offline phlmale

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2006, 09:38:09 AM »
I think it showed alma the violence he was capable of..that although he is usually un-emotional..he can erupt violently when threatened or his family is threatened (he erupts/explodes...visually the fireworks are exploding directly behind/around him)...and alma hadn't seen this side of him..realizing maybe there's more going on inside of him than she has been made aware

also struck me that it's another scene where he feels like a fish outta water (similar to his refusal to go hang out on a saturday night with the "fire and brimstone" crowd...which was probably the only social activity in that town besides the bar)...he seemed comfortable in the honeymoon snow scene with Alma, and maybe in the drive in movie scene..doing the things couples do at first..but realized over time that this isn't as enjoyable as that time on the mountain, early on, talking with Jack (as per the story text..the best time he'd ever had..felt like he could paw the white out of the moon)

so overall where does he go in Riverton (when Jack's not around), what does he do outside of work beyond that, especially after his failed marriage and the disaster Thanksgiving scene? ...he's in the bar by himself drinking..but met Cassie..so after that he's withdrawing to be alone in a bus station eating pie, or by himself in his trailer

Offline scot5636

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2006, 10:14:38 AM »
It's interesting that Jack being very boisterous,outgoing does not endear him to other people except Ennis.

Actually, this is one of the few problems I have with the movie.  Granted, I'm biased having a great big silly man-crush on Jake Gyllenhaal, but I think Jack is an extraordinarily likable character in the movie.  So it seemed a little artificial that he would suffer so many put-downs and humiliations from virtually everyone. 

Offline scot5636

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2006, 10:31:20 AM »
I think it showed alma the violence he was capable of..that although he is usually un-emotional..he can erupt violently when threatened or his family is threatened (he erupts/explodes...visually the fireworks are exploding directly behind/around him)...and alma hadn't seen this side of him..realizing maybe there's more going on inside of him than she has been made aware


I read that scene a little differently.  I think Alma had seen Ennis's violent temper before, and she was afraid of it.  Before Ennis ever gets up to kick some ass, you can see that Alma is already nervous about it.  She keeps trying to calm him and hold him back. 

The fireworks in the background seem to represent the emotional fireworks in Ennis, but it is also a very heroic backdrop.  The scene has Ennis, the iconic American cowboy, standing tall (the camera angle is actually shot from below, looking up) after defending his family.  But, juxtaposed with that, is the abasolute horror on Alma's face about the explosion of rage and violence from her husband that she has just witnessed.  I believe Ang Lee is giving us a perspective on our American notions of heroes.  It's also interesting that Ennis, a man in love with another man, has single-handedly beaten up two men who represent the very worst kind of over-the-top, heterosexual, machismo.  That, of course, also stands our notion about heroes on its head.

Offline Ned

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2006, 11:27:37 AM »
        An anxious, breathless Ennis rushes into the grocery store, kids in tow, gliding past the manager, asking, “Is Alma here?”  The manager replies, “in the condiments.”  Not even recognizing the word, Ennis can only ask, “th’ wh--?”
        This clipped question, containing incomplete words of only one syllable, beautifully frames and summarizes Ennis.  He’s faced with a word he can’t interpret, in a world he doesn’t understand, and is unable to articulate the questions — “what” / “where” about condiments, and “who” / “how”/ “why”  about life.  If he could utter an appropriate inquiry, whether about condiments or himself or his world, it probably would use one of those words starting with a “w”, and so he just lets fly with “wh–?”
        That’s the crippled best he can do: just the first part, of an indefinite word, in a question he can’t even finish.  That lone syllable frames and expresses this tight, trapped creature’s entire condition.
        So we care deeply about him, and yearn for what he needs the most:  the short, fragile peace that suspends him above the world — barely and briefly — each time he’s reunited with Jack.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2006, 11:02:01 PM by Ned »

Offline Merrill

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2006, 11:30:12 AM »
I think it showed alma the violence he was capable of..that although he is usually un-emotional..he can erupt violently when threatened or his family is threatened (he erupts/explodes...visually the fireworks are exploding directly behind/around him)...and alma hadn't seen this side of him..realizing maybe there's more going on inside of him than she has been made aware


I read that scene a little differently.  I think Alma had seen Ennis's violent temper before, and she was afraid of it.  Before Ennis ever gets up to kick some ass, you can see that Alma is already nervous about it.  She keeps trying to calm him and hold him back. 

The fireworks in the background seem to represent the emotional fireworks in Ennis, but it is also a very heroic backdrop.  The scene has Ennis, the iconic American cowboy, standing tall (the camera angle is actually shot from below, looking up) after defending his family.  But, juxtaposed with that, is the abasolute horror on Alma's face about the explosion of rage and violence from her husband that she has just witnessed.  I believe Ang Lee is giving us a perspective on our American notions of heroes.  It's also interesting that Ennis, a man in love with another man, has single-handedly beaten up two men who represent the very worst kind of over-the-top, heterosexual, machismo.  That, of course, also stands our notion about heroes on its head.

And this is on the 4th of July, the very apotheosis of liberty.  He is triumphant and decisive – and I think that is what Alma is troubled by.  I really want to resist typing this, but all the letters seem to be going in the right order so… it’s his declaration of independence… (Sorry) from Alma.  She has no sway over him.  And as he stands victorious she is in the very margins of the frame holding the babies.  I think it is just one of the most vivid shots in the film – really beautifully done.
To be normal is the ideal aim for the unsuccessful - C.G. Jung

Offline Merrill

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #23 on: January 30, 2006, 11:34:38 AM »
And I just noticed today the way the opening shot, of the truck coming along the blurred landscape, is echoed as Ennis drives back from Jack’s parents.  The light, the scenery everything is identical except the direction of the travel.  He has completed a journey.
To be normal is the ideal aim for the unsuccessful - C.G. Jung

Offline Island in the Sea

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #24 on: January 30, 2006, 12:42:37 PM »
(The short story and the screenplay/movie portray the characters differently.  I base my comments on the short story.)

Ennis is painfully isolated and incapable of crossing emotional thresholds to make contact with people. Jack pulls him over a barrier. Jack supplies the companionship that Ennis lost when his parents died and his siblings married.  Latter in life, Jack’s companionship may substitute for the joys of the son Ennis wished for but never had.

Ennis is rule-bound and unprepared for happiness. Jack is a breath of fresh air for him.  Others in Jack’s life may not need or enjoy a person like Jack as much as Ennis needs and enjoys him.

I do think that Ennis sees Jack as unrealistic. The conversation in the hotel room (in the short story) reveals this. Ennis rejects Jack’s plan to live with him and to work “a little cow and calf operation”.  Ennis invokes the prevailing homophobia as a reason to decline to live openly with Jack. But I think Ennis realizes that if he shared a household with Jack that it would be he, Ennis, who would end up doing the grunt work. He remembers how Jack whined when they were up on Brokeback about the requirements of the sheep watching. In that circumstance Ennis could have told Jack to do what he was being paid to do, but instead Ennis volunteered to take on the work that had been assigned to Jack. “You want a switch?”  This may look like Ennis loves Jack, but I think he is just failing to confront Jack’s irresponsibility.

In the conversation in the hotel room (in the short story) Jack relates all the injuries to his body that he got from bull riding.. Ennis, who has just had rocket sex with the man replies, “Sure as hell seem in one piece to me.”  I think this statement shows that Ennis doesn’t believe Jack’s stories. Ennis does not want to call him on his lies directly, however.  This too, could be interpreted as indulgent love, but I think it shows that Ennis dislikes confrontation, possibly because it would spoil the entertainment that Jack provides.

Offline alma

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #25 on: January 30, 2006, 01:26:39 PM »

The fireworks in the background seem to represent the emotional fireworks in Ennis, but it is also a very heroic backdrop.  The scene has Ennis, the iconic American cowboy, standing tall (the camera angle is actually shot from below, looking up) after defending his family.  But, juxtaposed with that, is the abasolute horror on Alma's face about the explosion of rage and violence from her husband that she has just witnessed.  I believe Ang Lee is giving us a perspective on our American notions of heroes.  It's also interesting that Ennis, a man in love with another man, has single-handedly beaten up two men who represent the very worst kind of over-the-top, heterosexual, machismo.  That, of course, also stands our notion about heroes on its head.

Thank you Scott. That nails it. I hadn't thought about our "notions" of hero and yet that is it exactly. That pose shot from below of Ennis against the fireworks in the night sky is so iconic and I just couldn't quite wrap my mind around the message. I think you've nailed it.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2006, 08:29:11 PM by alma »

Offline alma

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #26 on: January 30, 2006, 01:30:01 PM »
And this is on the 4th of July, the very apotheosis of liberty.  He is triumphant and decisive – and I think that is what Alma is troubled by.  I really want to resist typing this, but all the letters seem to be going in the right order so… it’s his declaration of independence… (Sorry) from Alma.  She has no sway over him.  And as he stands victorious she is in the very margins of the frame holding the babies.  I think it is just one of the most vivid shots in the film – really beautifully done.

Another great reading of the scene. It did seem that alma is marginalized in his life after that.

I loved the framing of the shot. Just incredible.

I also felt like Ennis asserted a fierce protectiveness over the ones he loved (his kids), which made me think about later in the story when Ennis swears to Jack's shirt... that perhaps Ennis is angry with himself for not protecting Jack better. In the short story, Ennis is said to be angry at Lureen for not protecting Jack from the accident with the tire. I wonder if this is a part of his character we ought to explore too...

Is Ennis someone who is inclined to defend those he loves?
« Last Edit: January 30, 2006, 01:31:47 PM by alma »

Offline makeitstop

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #27 on: January 30, 2006, 01:50:59 PM »
Here are some of my thoughts on Ennis.  Coming from a different place then many.  It has just floored me the impact this character has had on me since reading this story.  I have posted on the “Another Woman Who Loves Brokeback Mountain” thread.  I just found so many posts over there that helped to validate my own experience with this movie.   I was lurking around this site for over a month before I even did that.  I can’t even explain that since I am not one to spend time posting anything ever.  At first I just kept trying to ignore the story and put it out of my mind but it kept intruding back in.  I can not begin to express how unlike me it is to be moved at all my any fictional story.  I can list all the heartbreaking movies I have seen that I have either been board with or some I even found amusing.  Nothing has ever effected me like this did.  It took me several weeks before I could even discuss it with anyone because I didn’t understand my own reaction.  From the first time I read the story it was as if I actually felt this unbearable gut wrenching pain.  Not just moved by the heartbreak of the story but actual real life experience gut wrenching pain.  For weeks I couldn’t eat, (lost weight I could hardly afford to lose) couldn’t  sleep, or barely function normally at times.  Of course anything that has this kind of impact on a person forces you to closely examine why.  I realized before long that the similarities between myself and Ennis are just mind boggling.  I think this gives me some insight into this character.  Although his experiences are fictional and therefore not at all identical to my own, I do think that the core of who I am is found in Ennis.  Exploring this has brought me to an incredible understanding of myself that I have never had before. 

Just like him I have never really been open to the possibility that I had any real choices in how my life is lived.  This is what I think is the real tragedy in who he is.  I think there are childhood experiences that completely solidify who we become simply because they happen at a time while we are still forming.  Much like cement that is stepped in while it is hardening.  Once is has hardened that footprint will forever be a part of it.  This is how our souls are formed and that is how I see Ennis.  He has no control over how to express his emotions.  They were suppressed long before he was ever old enough to make any conscience decision to suppress them and has no idea of how to deal with them. When he encounters an experience that emotionally consumes him it really is unfortunate that there are complications he is unable to deal with.  I honestly think that even under ideal circumstances he would have struggled with the depth of his feeling.  He has already chosen Alma before he even meets Jack.  Someone he seems to admire has rationally chosen for whatever reason but not someone he feels at all emotionally threatened by.  What I mean is he has chosen someone to marry that he is not in love with.  This iis a decision a person who likes to be in control of their emotions behaves.  Consciously or sub-consciously!  He has survived a great deal of torment by keeping emotions nicely tucked under the surface.  So now when he has this extra added obstacle to deal with, he simply rationalizes the situation in his own mind to make it less complicated.  Throughout the story several of his lines such as “When this thing gets ahold of us”,  or “It ain’t gonna be like that”, and “You know, I was sittin up here all that time tryin to figure out if I was -- ? I know I ain't. I mean here we both got wives and kids, right? really demonstrates his need to find any explanation to explain away the “situation” other then what it really is.  This is the only way he can allow himself to continue the relationship.  He must feel that there is a rational rather then emotional tie holding him.  What frustrates him the most is that he is unable to control how he feels.

Much like Ennis I too am a victim of the circumstances of my birth and so much of who I am now was never really under my control.

Anyway as I said I have been struggling with all this since reading the book and so I have to believe that there is a reason for it.  Perhaps I am meant to find my own peace somehow in Ennis’s fate.  Unlike Ennis I am a straight female and have never been in a situation to find myself attracted to someone of the same sex so I did not have that issue to deal with.  Still, my childhood was so traumatic that I so needed the comfort of being the one to determine my own fate that I simply ignored being in love when it happened.  Like Ennis I was so uncomfortable when I  realized  how much some of the men who have loved me did love me simply because I didn’t understand why they did.  The fear of being exposed emotionally always made me run no matter how much I was hurting them. 

This post and it’s amazing insight had a particular sting to it for me:

Okay, I'll start.  I've been thinking about this since I saw the movie again yesterday.

Ennis acted really badly to the people in his life, more so in the movie than in the story. 
 - That look he gives Alma in the grocery store when she doesn't want to take the kids.  He's bullying her.
 - Same with when she has to work and he wants her to stay home and put supper on the table.
 - He has sex with Alma in a way that seems unpleasant for her.
 - He ignores Cassie's notes, then says "Seems you got the message".  That's just mean.
 - I think he loves his daughters, but he's really sporadic in their lives.  He is 2 years behind on knowing who his daughter is dating when Junior comes to announce she's getting married.
 - And with Jack, the Ennis character in the movie doesn't have the lines that I _hear_ now that I've read the story, the lines that show how much he missed him and how important the relationship is to him.  If you just watch the film, after the months on BBM and the reunion kiss, we don't see him giving Jack much care and affection.

Why do they all love him so?  Even Alma, their Thanksgiving confrontation starts with her saying that she and the girls worry about him.  Why do _I_ love him?  He's by far my favorite character, I can't take my eyes off him when he's on the screen.

Some ideas:  He's charismatic and charming.  He's the archetype of the strong, silent male.  He's absolutely gorgeous, which doesn't hurt.  And he's so broken.  It just makes you want to hold him and try to ease his pain.  Other ideas?

Although I can relate to Ennis I am in no way “in love” with this character.  I just feel this overwhelming sadness for him.  Every relationship I have ever had I have ended.  Some were so painful for the men I was with and some even excruciating for me.  Even so it would not stop me from ending the relationship.  More often then not I just felt that I was incapable of participating on an emotional level and eventually it always comes down to someone wanting that.  I often wondered why it was that men I was with wanted to commit to me, marry me, bring me home to meet their mother, while all my friends were struggling to find men who would make a commitment.  Then I read this story and it just hit me in the heart and reopened  all of these wounds.  Strange as it sounds I do feel that Ennis, like myself, is completely out of touch with his own feelings until it is too late.  I hate to say it but I don’t think there is anything short of Jack’s death that would have been strong enough to penetrate the protective shield around his emotions he had for however long both had been alive.  The only way I could see there having been a positive outcome to this story was if after the end of the story it came to light that it was not really Jack who died on the road as originally thought but Randall.  See he was so badly disfigured that there was no positive identification made.  Jack had left town temporarily to be on his own and try to sort out what he was going to do about Ennis and the whole situation.  He finally makes his way to Brokeback Mountain where Ennis is camping on his own staring at the shirts.  He looks up, sees Jack and knows instantly how the rest of his life will be spent.

Well writing this has been helpful for me.  This is how I choose to see the ending from now on and I don’t care if it somehow takes away from the tragedy of the circumstances of the story because to be honest that just sucks.  Sorry if it has been to lengthy.  I do like to think there is a reason for my obsession to this story since I have never been so moved by a story in my life.  The last month has been an amazing time of self analysis.  Something almost unheard of for me to do.  I almost have a whole new outlook on my life.  As ridicules as that may sound to some I am really not overstating when I say that.  This story having opened all these long festering wounds has forced me to deal with them however and I feel stronger then I ever have. 

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #28 on: January 30, 2006, 06:17:11 PM »
It's interesting that Jack being very boisterous,outgoing does not endear him to other people except Ennis.

Actually, this is one of the few problems I have with the movie.  Granted, I'm biased having a great big silly man-crush on Jake Gyllenhaal, but I think Jack is an extraordinarily likable character in the movie.  So it seemed a little artificial that he would suffer so many put-downs and humiliations from virtually everyone. 

I know that this belongs in the Jack character analysis thread but...
I have thought about this too, and my impression is that people were uncomfortable with someone who was so comfortable with himself. Jack seemed to be able to handle his failures without completely internalizing them. His hatred of his father-in-law and his ongoing stalemate with him (until the Thanksgiving checkmate) did not result in Jack feeling like he was unworthy of Lureen, it resulted in him feeling like L.D. Newsome was an asshole.
You may even describe it as, well..jealousy. Jack was obviously gorgeous, confident, fun, and full of personality. His own father said that Jack thought he was "too damn (is is "damn" or "damned?") special" to be buried in the family plot.
Jack was larger than life, and you have to imagine that his outlook must have earned him a few "who the hell does he think he is?"

Offline Island in the Sea

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #29 on: January 30, 2006, 08:10:34 PM »
Ennis character is captured in the exchange below when he and Jack are watching the sheep on Brokeback. Much of the food was lost on the trail up the mountain when Ennis’ horse was spooked by a bear.

From the screenplay:

Jack: Well, we got to do somethin’ ‘bout this food situation. Maybe I’ll shoot one of the sheep.

Ennis: What if Aguirre finds out? We’re supposed to guard the sheep, not eat ‘em.

Jack: What’s the matter with you? There’s a thousand of ‘em.

Ennis: I’ll stick with beans.

Jack: Well, I won’t.

…………………
Why would Ennis object to killing one sheep?  Aguirre had said that almost 25% of the flock had been lost in the previous year, including 42 sheep (if you believe Jack’s story) that were killed by lightning.
Ennis has such a high sense of right and wrong. He doesn’t want to break the rules, even a little bit, especially if it could offend the boss.  What he gets from attempting to follow every rule to the letter all his life, is to end up with “beans” at the end.  Jack can see that the loss of one sheep is not so important. Of course he also hates Aguirre.

In the next scene however, Ennis shoots a deer, apparently a violation of the Game and Fish Warden’s rules. Ooooeee!