In 1963, Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) are hired by Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid) to herd his sheep through the summer in Wyoming. After a night of heavy drinking, Jack makes a sexual pass at Ennis, who is initially apprehensive but eventually falls to Jack’s advances.
Though he informs Jack that it was a one-time incident, they develop a sexual and emotional relationship. Shortly after learning their summer together is being cut short, they briefly fight, and each is bloodied. After Jack and Ennis part ways, Ennis marries his longtime fiancée Alma Beers (Michelle Williams) and fathers two children.
Jack returns the next summer, but Aguirre, who witnessed Jack and Ennis on the mountain, does not re-hire him. Jack meets, marries, and starts a family with rodeo rider Lureen Newsome (Anne Hathaway). After four years, Jack visits Ennis.
Upon meeting the two kiss passionately, which Alma accidentally witnesses. Jack broaches the subject of creating a life together on a small ranch, but Ennis, haunted by a childhood memory of the torture and murder of a man suspected of homosexual behavior, refuses. He is also unwilling to abandon his family. Ennis and Jack continue to meet for infrequent fishing trips.
Director Ang Lee begins this film as both Ennis and Jack are waiting outside of a building, both looking for work, both down on their luck, both avoiding each other’s eyes. We know, or those of us who have read the story know, what is to happen and so unfortunately we read more into that simple scene than there really is. But with all that aside, this scene of Ennis and Jack avoiding each other, dodging each others looks, staring at the ground, kicking up the dirt is nonetheless rife with sensuality and tension.
Director: Ang Lee
Year of Release: 2005
Character to watch: Heath Ledger as Ennis Del Mar.
Journal your answers to the following questions after you watch the movie.
- How does this particular character’s journey compare with yours?
- Did the character develop certain characteristics during the movie that you have or that you would like to have? If so, what are those characteristics?
- What obstacles did this character face? What was his or her biggest challenge?
- What would you have done differently if you had been in the same position as the character?
- Is this character the type of person you would be friends with? Why or why not?