Friday, January 27, 2006

Brokeback Reflections...

Brokeback Mountain finally came to our burg last week, and Rita and I saw it on opening night, with enough members of my department to almost make a quorum for a faculty meeting. I had read the Annie Proulx story in the New Yorker the week before, and had been eager to see the film.

I wasn't disappointed, and found the film moving and absorbing. Just a couple of items I wanted to comment upon, and thanks to Rita Rud for sharing in developing these insights:

-the way Ennis finds out about the fate of Jack was masterfully done in the film. You already knew how Ennis had been shown what happens to gay men by his father in a vivid flashback earlier in the film. When Jack's wife tells Ennis over the phone about the tire blowing up in Jack's face and killing him, what flashes in Ennis's mind is a scene reminiscent of what he saw as a young man. But you don't KNOW if that is what happened to Jack from the film. The fact that it is strongly suggested, but plays out also as what was Ennis's big fear (recall what he said earlier to Jack that if they were caught, they would be dead) is masterful directing.

-the scene where Jack's family is having a holiday meal (Thanksgiving?) when his father-in-law insists on keeping the football game on TV for his grandson to experience...after all, real men have football on when a big meal is served. Jack turns it off, and in doing so supports his wife, who has labored over the meal. He dresses down his father-in-law, insisting on his place as the man of the family. He thus straddles being a sensitive man (sympathetic to his wife's labors over the meal) and an assertive man (standing up for what he believed was respectful behavior in his house). Again, masterful direction: the father-in-law, rather than blow up at Jack then, holds his anger within, but you know he is seething. You almost get the feeling that he won't dress Jack down in front of his daughter and grandson, but that Jack's retribution is coming.

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