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brokeback Mountain


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#1 Michael Louis Hill

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 03:34 AM

a very beautiful film. i want to hang each frame on my wall. i thought the photography was just perfect for the story. any thoughts?
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#2 Charles Haine

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Posted 24 December 2005 - 11:43 AM

The camera work was just perfect. Thought the only flaws were the flashbacks (to the murders of the old men Ennis tells us about, and to the murder of Jack Twist). Anne Hathaway gave such a stellar performance in that phone call to Ennis, letting us know that he didn't die changing a tire, that I thought it ruined the moment to actually show the flashy killing footage. I could've handled the flashback to young Ennis if we hadn't seen the corpse, which again I didn't think fit the movie (and wasn't nearly as horrific as the image the words had put into my head was).

I'd never really seen anything with her in it before, and was blown away, both by her and by Heath Ledger.

Really felt like this was a great growth for Prieto; not that 45degree shutter and skip bleach didn't exist before him, but he is very associated with that style (for doing it better than anyone else, I imagine), and, though ALEXANDER was gourgeous, I still felt like this was his great leap forward into a new direction (not that either is better, I'd be just as excited to see what Vittorio Storaro did with a grittier look; I just like to see people doing things they don't normally do).

Really dug that it was 1.85; anyone know if there was a DI? I'm guessing 1.85 for the stop for all the night-time work, but also felt that it worked thematically; all those mountains are so vertical, and it's such a character movie.

The opening, with the green hills and the truck, blew me away. Funny, how everything looks out of focus that early in the morning, and it is in focus, but the light is so soft, and of course the truck's headlights are flaring a bit, and there is all the atmospheric diffusion. I loved PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, but that was really a pornography of dawn-mist cinematography, whereas this was a subtler dawn-mist moment.

Eagerly awaiting the January AC for coverage on this one.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 December 2005 - 05:38 PM

SPOILER (although a bit pointless now...)


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Since Ennis couldn't have actually seen Jack's death, the "flashback" may just be in Ennis' imagination that his worst fears have come true, that Jack was beaten to death just as the men in his childhood. It's ambiguous. He has lived his whole live in fear, so to speak, so he imagines the worst.

Edited by David Mullen, 24 December 2005 - 05:40 PM.

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#4 Sean Azze

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Posted 29 December 2005 - 08:57 PM

SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER














From articles that I've read on the film, in the short story written by Annie Proux there is an actual gay bashing that takes place. Therefore it isn't something that's simply in Ennis' mind. I think if Lee didn't include that flash, we'd never even suspect that anything aside from that "spare tire" story took place. Therefore I think it was a necessary element.

Amazing film, I must say. Loved the final shot with the photo of brokeback mountain on the closet door, juxtaposed with a window leading into the real world. Really speaks volumes about where Ennis' journey will take him next.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 December 2005 - 09:12 PM

I can only judge the film, not the short story, and the way it is edited, it SEEMS to be taking place in Ennis' mind as he hears the news (not some omniscient flashback -- besides, the other flashback was his memory too), and it's an event he did not witness himself, and it is contrary to what she is describing over the phone, so he is basically imagining and presuming that she is lying to him and that a beating took place.

What is ambiguous is whether Ennis' version of what happened is correct or just a manifestation of his fear. The film doesn't say one way or the other. Now the short story may say that the beating death of Jack really did happen, but the movie seems to want to play it more ambiguous, or else they wouldn't have cut it the way that they did, because everything else that happens to Jack happens in real time.
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#6 Sean Azze

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Posted 29 December 2005 - 11:28 PM

I can only judge the film, not the short story, and the way it is edited, it SEEMS to be taking place in Ennis' mind as he hears the news (not some omniscient flashback -- besides, the other flashback was his memory too), and it's an event he did not witness himself, and it is contrary to what she is describing over the phone, so he is basically imagining and presuming that she is lying to him and that a beating took place.


I'd have to respectfully disagree with you, Mr. Mullen. I think the scene afterwards when Ennis visits Jack's parents is a very telling one. They mention how Jack spoke of wanting to run a ranch with Ennis, and how he ended up doing so with another gentleman. Jack's father appears almost disgusted when relaying the story to Ennis. To me it's a clear indication that not only were they aware of Jack's homosexuality, but lost their son because of it.

I think because there was only one flashback shown prior to this one, you cannot constitute two flashbacks as a pattern, thus it doesn't necessarily have to be classified as a device used to show merely Ennis' thoughts. A possibility could be that it is Jack's wife imagining the truth that she is hiding from Ennis. After all, she never met Ennis and probably had no idea that he was aware of Jack's homosexuality, thus covering up the truth with a well rehearsed story about a spare tire striking Jack in the face.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 12:48 AM

Well, that's why I call it ambiguous. Ambiguous means that multiple interpretations are possible. The way it is edited, I don't think it's absolutely clear that it's her imagining instead of Ennis. It could be his, and if it's his -- and she's telling him a different story than what he's imagining -- then it's perfectly plausible that one interpretation is that he imagines the worst case scenario. Everything else that happens to Jack is told normally, including his trip to Mexico, but his end is only portrayed as a flashback. After all, it's a rather neat coincidence that Ennis' childhood memory is of someone killed for their homosexuality and then it happens to Jack as well -- Ennis' worst nightmare, the very thing he's dreaded all his life, which accounts for a lot of his cautious behavior. It may have really happened to Jack indeed, but there is the possibility that it didn't too. Given the realistic streak of the story, a freak roadway accident is a less melodramatic than a murder.

Also, it makes more sense if the flashback is in Ennis' mind as the first one was, rather than in her mind. He is a more important central character and it's more likely for the film to show his inner imaginings than hers.

If Ang Lee did not intend to be ambiguous, then he was being rather sloppy in his narrative technique to make something that should be clear to the audience confusing instead. I'd rather believe that he knew what he was doing by making it ambiguous, having two stories of Jack's death appear at the same time -- one verbal and one in flashback -- with no reliable witness to verify the truth. Of course I could be wrong and Lee was just being confusing.

Edited by David Mullen, 30 December 2005 - 12:53 AM.

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#8 Sean Azze

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 01:41 AM

Well, that's why I call it ambiguous.


Ok - I'll concede and say that it can be interpreted as ambiguous. lol

Given the realistic streak of the story, a freak roadway accident is a less melodramatic than a murder.


But don't forget, a big theme of the story is the contrast between Ennis' guarded behavior and Jack's willingness to be open. Jack approached men in bars, solicited prostitutes, cohabitated with another man - he drew enough attention to himself that a beating by a group of bigots in the midwest isn't necessarily so far fetched. Jack was much braver than Ennis in respect to showing his true self and thus paid for it - there's a lot more meaning that can be ascertained from the film that way than from a freak accident (in my opinion).

Also, it makes more sense if the flashback is in Ennis' mind as the first one was, rather than in her mind. He is a more important central character and it's more likely for the film to show his inner imaginings than hers.


You're right.

If Ang Lee did not intend to be ambiguous, then he was being rather sloppy in his narrative technique to make something that should be clear to the audience confusing instead. I'd rather believe that he knew what he was doing by making it ambiguous, having two stories of Jack's death appear at the same time -- one verbal and one in flashback -- with no reliable witness to verify the truth. Of course I could be wrong and Lee was just being confusing.


Even Spielberg makes missteps. :D
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#9 Remi Adefarasin

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 01:46 PM

When I saw the film I was annoyed by the flashback as it seemed out of keeping with the style of the film. Funny thing is that it?s now the enduring moment of the film in my minds eye. The beauty for me is that it was both the wife?s mental image of her husbands? demise and Ennis? imagination (fashioned by childhood memories) brought together in the same moment. Now, if I?m right, that?s filmmaking.
Happy New Year from London.
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#10 fstop

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 06:25 PM

Just got back from seeing it-

I was very pleasantly suprised with this- I was really expecting the worst: He who made HULK introducing the first mega-mainstream piece of queer cinema? Yes, there were some clunks and thuds conerning the various (seemingly inescapable) media stereotypes, but overall it aspired and largely succeeded in being reasonably delicate. Heath Ledger was incredible; I really can't remember such a grossly convincing aging performance since Brando in the Godfather (Ian McKellen in THE KEEP and Francessca Annis in KRULL, perhaps ;) ).

It's very scary to think that cinema itself is what, 110 years old, and only now we are beginning to have studios paying for a film dealing purely with a homosexual relationship. To think that only 26 years ago we were still in the decidely homophobic territory of William Friedkin's CRUSING, posing as a deeper representation of homosexuality in Hollywood cinema!!

Cinematography of Brokeback Mountain is sterling. I was very impressed by the restrain and modesty, from the shallow depth of field/low light exterior stuff, to the impressive, high contrast interiors. Even given the inherently grainy 1.85:1 canvas, the strength of the compositions and judement in selecting the best back/side-lit angles was consistent without ever getting monotonous. Some super polariser sky shots too. Only the day for night/digital evening stuff was on the dubious side, but obviously not nearly enough to detract from the performances/narrative. Admirably unintrusive! :)
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#11 Max Jacoby

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 01:03 PM

I agree with David on the 'flashback' of Jack's death. Since there is no way that he could have witnessed this and nobody told him about it either, this was just in his imagination. This fear of beaing beaten to death for being gay was brought up earlier in the story, so I felt it was justified.
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 12:44 AM

I agree with David on the 'flashback' of Jack's death. Since there is no way that he could have witnessed this and nobody told him about it either, this was just in his imagination. This fear of beaing beaten to death for being gay was brought up earlier in the story, so I felt it was justified.


Of course, it's also possible that it is an objective, omniscient flashback and no one's memory, but since the only other one in the movie is in Ennis' mind, it seems odd to have one that is his memory and one that is an objective flashback device and/or in the wife's mind. The way he reacts and the way the flashback is intercut makes it seem like he is reacting to the THOUGHT of how Jack died, so therefore the flashback image is taking place in his mind. And since he was not a witness, it would be an act of imagination. Now, of course, he could be guessing correctly as to what really happened.
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 22 January 2006 - 11:27 PM

I just looked at the short story that it was based on - the movie is a fairly faithful adaptation. The scene where Ennis is told about how Jack died by the wife is pretty much the same; after she describes the roadside accident, the story says something like: "No, thought Jack, it was a tire iron." That's it.

So, Jack's murder is something that Ennis conjectures -- whether he is right or not is left ambiguous.
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#14 Benjamin_Lussier

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 03:33 PM

Im a HUGE Ang Lee fan.... The Icestorm is one of my favourite films.... so my expectations were SO high.. I was bound to be a bit disapointed.... Still like it alot... but it didnt move me as much as The Icestorm or even crouching tiger hidden dragon

Some of my friends at Buzz Image had the chance to work on the visual effects....
Yes guys... there's alot of CG in this film believe it or not !

Ben
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#15 Bill Totolo

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 02:39 PM

[.
Since Ennis couldn't have actually seen Jack's death, the "flashback" may just be in Ennis' imagination that his worst fears have come true, that Jack was beaten to death just as the men in his childhood. It's ambiguous. He has lived his whole live in fear, so to speak, so he imagines the worst.
[/quote]

I just saw Larry McMurtry and Dianna Osanna at a screening of the film at the Arclight. They confirmed your statement, David. Nice work as this was the only part of the film that confused me.

After seeing the film I wondered if they had screened "Northfork" in their prep. I think David deserves some credit here.
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#16 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 03:34 PM

Im a HUGE Ang Lee fan.... The Icestorm is one of my favourite films.... so my expectations were SO high.. I was bound to be a bit disapointed.... Still like it alot... but it didnt move me as much as The Icestorm or even crouching tiger hidden dragon

Some of my friends at Buzz Image had the chance to work on the visual effects....
Yes guys... there's alot of CG in this film believe it or not !

Ben

What effects were there? I honestly had no idea that there were any.
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#17 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 03:36 PM

What effects were there? I honestly had no idea that there were any.


Well, obviously the day-for-night shots with hundreds of sheep and nighttime skies above, for starters. I suspect even some of the day shots had more sheep added in post.
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#18 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 04:08 PM

Well, obviously the day-for-night shots with hundreds of sheep and nighttime skies above, for starters. I suspect even some of the day shots had more sheep added in post.

You know, for some reason that didn't even register with me. Normally when I see shots like that with hundreds of characters/animals I automatically assume it was done in Massive or Behavior or one of those programs, but for in this film the thought didn't even enter my head. Very impressive.
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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 04:13 PM

You know, for some reason that didn't even register with me. Normally when I see shots like that with hundreds of characters/animals I automatically assume it was done in Massive or Behavior or one of those programs, but for in this film the thought didn't even enter my head. Very impressive.


I'm just guessing about the sheep additions being done digitally, but it's getting more common for that work even in medium-budget films. Even in "Akeelah and the Bee" we had one shot that had to be touched up digitally to add more out-of-focus people sitting in the audience of the final spelling bee event, for a 360 degree dolly move. In "Northfork" we digitally added more gravestones & dug-out plots to a wide shot of the cemetary.
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#20 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 04:42 PM

I'm just guessing about the sheep additions being done digitally, but it's getting more common for that work even in medium-budget films. Even in "Akeelah and the Bee" we had one shot that had to be touched up digitally to add more out-of-focus people sitting in the audience of the final spelling bee event, for a 360 degree dolly move. In "Northfork" we digitally added more gravestones & dug-out plots to a wide shot of the cemetary.

I think this is evidence that people's perception of effects depends at least partially on their expectations. Obviously something like Harry Potter is going to have tons and tons of CG, since it features all sorts of creatures that don't exist in real life. But Brokeback Mountain had a small budget, and there was not a single shot that couldn't have been done without effects, so there's really no reason to be on the lookout for them.

Plenty of people like to complain about CG and how obvious it is, but I think a lot of it is simply that people know ahead of time that things are CG (assuming, of course, that it's otherwise good CG). Subtle things like this go under everyone's radar.
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