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Author Topic: Symbolism & Imagery, II  (Read 58831 times)

Offline Sandy

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Symbolism & Imagery, II
« on: August 27, 2009, 11:26:28 AM »
"This is the thread to discuss any symbolism or symbolic elements you find in the film or book. For example, much has been discussed about the sheep and how they symbolize Jack and Ennis. There are many more symbols and symbolic elements in the book and movie. This is the place to discuss them."

This is the place to continue the discussion on Symbolism and Imagery.

Please be aware that, as with all Elements and Themes posts, replies should be verbal only and not contain pictures.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2011, 07:19:29 AM by royandronnie »

Offline Sara B

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2009, 01:57:23 AM »
A frivolous start: S and y, I've only just noticed your S and I name :).
“When we grow older still we’ll speak about those two young men as if they were two strangers..... And we’ll want to call it envy, because to call it regret would break our hearts.”

Call Me by Your Name, André Aciman.

Offline Sandy

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2009, 10:21:19 AM »
Thanks.

Given my past postings in symbolism and imagery, I have to view the correlation as ironic.  ;D

Sandy

Offline foreverinawe

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2009, 12:58:49 PM »
Friends, this is a re-post from the original S&I, which got locked right after I posted it. I felt like I had gotten my tail caught in the door as I was leaving.

I doubt that many people browsing S&I II will go back to the original S&I, although that may be just a pessimistic guess. But it took me so darned long to get my formatting right that I just hate to see it go to waste. If you've seen it before, my apologies.

(For Paul, garyd and jesse, thanks for your comments.)

Here is the original:
_______________________________________________________________________________


Two years ago, on another forum, a friend posed this question:

> I continually wonder why we have been so touched by this film. It's not
> just the gay element. I wonder if we share some deep psychological quirk
> which caused us to be so affected by this film.

This was my answer to her. It is somewhat personal, but I do believe it is properly S&I, and so I offer it here.
-----------------------

Hi pal,

I've mentioned this before, but my grandson is a music education major at Vanderbilt University. A few weeks ago his parents and I visited him in Nashville (about 200 miles from where we live), and attended his choir's concert of sacred music at a Catholic church not far from campus.

The church is beautiful on the outside, but one doesn't suspect what is inside until one is, in fact, inside. It is almost barren of decorations. No statuary (save the crucifixion above the altar), no elaborate altar, no candles, no displays of gold artifacts, no fancy pulpit. The walls are bare stone, unengraved, plain granite. There are small stained glass windows, deeply recessed; one hardly notices them.

Vandy's music department frequently performs there, for one overriding reason: the acoustics are unbelievably good.

The audience that night was unexpectedly large, perhaps 300. We arrived early, and sat in the pews talking quietly. When the conversation lulled, we simply looked around the sanctuary, impressed with its stark simplicity. But inevitably, our eyes wandered to the crucifixion

The cross was elevated far above the heads of the people on the dais, and was itself very large. The figure of Christ was life size, and was clearly visible from everywhere in the sanctuary. There was no question of the message intended by the architects; it was loud and clear.

A couple months ago I posted a small reflection on the scene in the movie that showed Ennis "Walking into Signal" (my title). I felt that that single image carried with it not only the weight of Ennis's life struggles, but in fact, the human condition itself. The individual, responding to the desires of his/her heart, must accommodate him/herself to the artificial and unforgiving structures of society.

And as I sat in the church and looked at Christ, I realized the symbolism was the same.
 
Why are we touched so deeply by Brokeback Mountain?

I can only speak for myself, but while I (and countless others) identify so readily with Ennis, I don't think it has to do with sexuality, nor childhood disappointments, nor lack of education. While all of these no doubt added to the complexity of Ennis's personality, I think the underlying cause is the basic conflict between individuals’ inherent desire for freedom and society’s requirements for compliance. Not just in Ennis's case, but yours, mine, everybody's.  I think that is why BBM touches so many of us.

I'm not a psychologist, but I think that while some folks deal with it more successfully than others, it has a lot to do with how much individuality a person can surrender before rebelling. I think there is a wide variation. I am reminded of  Thoreau`s famous description about people "living lives of quiet desperation."

~~~fia

 
Walking into Signal




I think this is one of the greatest scenes in motion picture history.  It is from the movie Brokeback Mountain.

One must be familiar with the story to understand the implications, but given such familiarity, it represents the human condition so starkly, so vividly, that for me, it is virtually shattering.

Ennis del Mar walks into the tiny town of Signal, Wyoming, early one morning, seeking a summertime job. We, the audience, know nothing about him, haven’t even seen him up close. But look at the spectacle presented:

  a lone man, no other human in sight
  a panorama of society’s structures
  the intensely blue sky
  the bank of blazing-white-topped clouds with very dark bottoms
  the wuthering wind

Start with the clouds. Their tops, bathed in brilliant sunlight, are stark against their dark, brooding bottoms. How can simple clouds have such an enormous range of contrast?  But the question is moot, because the answer is in plain sight. It happens, Yes, it really does. And the implied question is palpable: Does Ennis also have unimagined depths?

Those clouds are surrounded by such an intense blue, that it would hurt most people’s eyes. Clouds against a blue sky are hardly uncommon, but this blue is uniquely penetrating and concentrated. Is something suggested by the tension between these extreme clouds and the potent blue sky? Does the intense blue have a significance yet to be revealed?

Later in the story we will learn that Ennis’s childhood was hard, his parents killed before he reached high school. We will also learn that his soul was branded when he was but 9 years old. But it was not society that killed his parents, and he is naive about society’s role in his branding.  He thinks he has simply had bad breaks, and he is stoic.

Ennis hitched a truck ride to Signal, now walks down the road, threading his way between the buildings, seeking employment. Unrecognized by him, it is society’s structures, physical and cultural, that are informing every step of his life in ways that he doesn’t even understand. The picture we see of Ennis alone, surrounded by society’s influences, speaks volumes. He is an innocent, uncomprehendingly corralled into the design of the system, a sheep in a pen.

Finally, the murmuring wind, like the spirit of life itself, blows across everything, the good and the bad, the day and the night. An individual may realize joy, but it is only short-lived; the same applies to sorrow. So what? Who cares? Perhaps there is a higher order, a nobler purpose to a person’s struggles and hopes, perhaps not. Does the blowing wind know?

Leo Tolstoy wrote about The Three Deaths --- the rich man, the poor man, the tree -- and asked what significance should be assigned to each of them? We recognize ourselves in Tolstoy’s metaphors.

I look at Walking into Signal....and recognize myself.



And why are we shown this trivial detail? Because that truck carries the most important cargo of our puny lives:  love and hope.

Offline Janie-G

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2009, 11:16:34 AM »
My hubby, who's clued up on most things "Brokeback". came up with a possible
insight into why AP chose the name Cigar Butt. I just assumed it was the
chestnut/bay colour but maybe there's more to it. Hubby was watching a
documentary about Warren Buffett, the billionaire. He mentioned that one thing
he does is buy up "cigar butt" companies. I never heard the term before so
forgive me if you're all very familiar with it. Apparently it means something
past its best but something that still has a bit more to give, like a cigar butt
which, if unrolled still contains some tobacco.

We both thought that this description fitted exactly the sort of horse Aguirre
might provide for his cut price sheep operation. It would be an older horse, not
up to demanding cattle work anymore but reliable enough to spend its last useful
years on the summer seasons of sheep herding. I don't think Aguirre would ever
have top class young animals for the job but he didn't want anything which was
liable to break down and cause him the trouble of replacing. So a "cigar butt"
of a horse might fit the bill perfectly.
It looks as though Jack's mare with the "low startle point" wasn't up to much
more demanding work either, hence her deployment on the mountain.

Does this sound the sort of thing AP might come up with?
In the words of the great Ron Weasley, "That's bloody brilliant!"
http://janie-g.deviantart.com/

Offline Sandy

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2009, 12:36:29 PM »
Hi Janie,

I definitely think you're on to something. It's a new connection for me, and I'm glad you brought it up.

Seems just like the sort of understated humor that AP would use in her work.

Sandy

Offline Rosewood

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2009, 04:36:56 PM »
Speaking of symbolism, etc...I found this on etsy and think it is just right for us, or at least those of us who are overburdened with whimsy - myself included.
(Sorry Sandy, I couldn't resist.)


http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?ref=vl_other_2&listing_id=33824972
"Tut, tut, child," said the Duchess.
"Everything's got a moral if only you can find it."
                                                  Lewis Carroll

Offline inwooder

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2009, 06:57:55 AM »
Hi. I just saw Brokeback Mountain for the first time last weekend. I've avoided it all of these years, cause, like Ennis, I didn't want to feel these feelings. But I did and after having ordered it on-line for immediate overnight delievery have watched it two more times. Even got the soundtrack. That first note from the opening score feeling like a knife in my heart every time. No suprise to anyone here, but the only way I can describe its impact on me is to say "profound". It has made me feel pain and comfort in a way I had learned not to expect. I know most of what I have to say and the questions I have have already been said and discussed so please be kind.

Offline inwooder

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2009, 07:01:06 AM »
So here goes my first question comment.

When Ennis first finds the shirts, his is on the inside. When they are hanging in his trailer closet, Jack's is on the inside. My guess: Jack "hid" Ennis' shirt-thats why it was on the inside. Ennis put his shirt over Jack's so as to hold him, to protect him.

Right?

Offline Dal

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2009, 10:19:29 AM »
Welcome to the forum, inwooder! 

I don't know that anything is right or wrong, where symbols/imagery are concerned.  But that said, I imagine eveybody who noticed the reversal of the shirts felt it meant the same thing you did.  It's certainly a perfect explanation.

Mommy, can I be on the kill list when I gwow up?
Of course honey, any American can -- thanks to President Obama!!

BayCityJohn

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2009, 08:00:54 PM »
So here goes my first question comment.

When Ennis first finds the shirts, his is on the inside. When they are hanging in his trailer closet, Jack's is on the inside. My guess: Jack "hid" Ennis' shirt-thats why it was on the inside. Ennis put his shirt over Jack's so as to hold him, to protect him.

Right?

Right! At least that is the most common explanation I've seen here over the years.

The idea to switch the shirts came from Heath Ledger.

Diana Ossana talked a little about it last summer at the AMPAS screening:


"I  mean, there were things, when you talk about somebody bringing something to the film… In the scene in the trailer at the end, it was Heath’s idea, of course, to change the shirts. When he finds them his is inside Jack’s, and at the end, Jack’s is inside his. That was Heath. He was so excited, like a little kid that day. “Wait ‘til you see what I’ve done; I’ve got a surprise for you.”

http://www.findingbrokeback.com/Interviews/Ossana/Ossana2.html

BayCityJohn

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2009, 08:33:16 PM »
I know most of what I have to say and the questions I have have already been said and discussed so please be kind.

Please post more questions and comments :)

If we didn't enjoy discussing the same questions over and over this site wouldn't still be here after 4 years.   ;D

Offline inwooder

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2009, 07:59:19 PM »
thank you thank you thank you

I have been telling anyone who will listen how much BBM has affected me. I keep saying "profoundly". I think they think I am exaggerating. Every day I think of something new and make a new connection either within the movie or to the movie. "oh, thats what that meant" or "thats why that scene made me feel that way'.

Offline inwooder

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2009, 08:05:29 PM »
I tried and tried again
(Don't you know I tried and tried again
to make you listen to me
But everything I said it always seemed to go right through you)
To make you notice me
(I turned myself into a person that I didn't like
But please believe me when I say I know it wasn't right)
But talking to myself
(I never thought that things would
get to be so complicated
I never thought that you and me would end up So frustrated)
Won't catch you attention I see ...
(You'd think that something had to come from all those good intentions
But in the end I needed something more than intervention)


This is from a song but it feels like what Jack might have been feeling after the last scene with them together.

BayCityJohn

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2009, 08:15:50 PM »
Inwooder

If you really like music you should check this out.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MEET ME ON THE MOUNTAIN is the latest link in a chain of inspiration that began with Annie Proulx's brilliant short story "Brokeback Mountain." Adapted by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry into an Oscar-winning screenplay, the story was brought to the screen by director Ang Lee and into the hearts of millions through the deeply affecting performances he coaxed from the film's stellar cast -- most notably Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, and Anne Hathaway. Says songwriter Shawn Kirchner: "'Brokeback Mountain' made a huge impact on me, both personally and artistically. I've heard many people say they felt similarly to me: for days afterward I couldn't shake the feeling the film left me with. I felt like I wanted to respond, but out of respect, I didn't want to touch it -- since the film was such a complete expression in itself. After some attempts at writing lyrics to the soundtrack's beautiful theme, a wise friend said 'You know, you're going to have to write your own music.' Once I got started, the songs just kept coming...." sung by Ryan Harrison

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This song is from the album.  Last Stand.

Ryan and Shawn performed this here in San Francisco this past July. We're working on a bigger show for 2011.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbOQYi8JnF8