I have a question about Sommersby

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I was watching sommersby and I totally don't understand the ending, is he Jack or Horrace??? Someone please help me i am soooo confused!!! thanks, -Jess

-- Jess (Yankeeschik02@aol.com), August 18, 2000


It has been five years or so I watched the film the last time so I'm not familiar with the exact characters. However I know that Richard is not Jodie Foster's real husband (in the film). He met her husband at war and I think there's a scene at the beginnig of the film where he actually burries her real husband. As far as I remember he has a rather dark past so he takes the chance of leading Foster's husband's life. Of course he is a nice and charming man - unlike Foster's former one and so they really fall in love with each other. Any more questions? Susan

-- Susanne Scheiblhofer (susanne_scheiblhofer@gmx.at), September 04, 2000.

I must be a real dolt because i just saw somersby last week and i understood that he was a new and improved jack in fact he swore on his grave to jodie that he did not murder horace nor was he horrace, however at the end he does say that he does not want to be horrace again which confused me but i think he meant that people confused the two. am I making sense?

-- louisa growden (weeze68@hotmail.com), September 09, 2000.

Hi Louisa, I've enjoyed that movie several times over the years and my take on it is Horace was Horace and Jack was Jack,but Horace did Jack a favor or something and agreed to be Jack or something like that. It's been a while but I was so sad he had to die in the end!

-- monica mastin (monica@caninsurance.com), September 11, 2000.

Jess. He was Horace Townsend not Jack Somersby. the film was great don,t you think. Julia.


It is very simple. He is in fact Horace, a slimey man who was locked away with Jack Sommersby during the war. They looked alot alie, and when Jack died...Horace saw the chance to be somebody besides the slimey Horace with a loser reputation. It was very clear. Also,,,he explaind he would rather die as Jack, than live as Horace! I LOVE RICHARD GERE....AHHHHHHHH

-- DoriMarie (DoriMarie@webtv.net), October 13, 2001.

I am glad that someone else is confused about it. I have just watched it a couple of times on video (Jan, 2002), and hooked into the net to see what the world thinks about "Was he really Jack Sommersby". A few reviews and personal pages just say he was really Horace Townshend, and that is the end of it. After watching the second take, I was 99% sure he was Horace, but not 100%.

Some clues - When Jack first arrives at Vine County, and meets the farmer in the field, he waits for the farmer to recognize him. It is as if he is testing his disguise. Note that he does not greet most of his old friends by name - he is feeling his way around. I really like this one - he clearly does not need the scarf around his hand, but he is careful to be wearing it when he turns up, and offers his hand to Jack's dog to smell him. He is concerned when the scarf is destroyed, and the dog dies soon afterwards. Jumping to the end, go through the court scene from the assumption that the charge against Jack Sommersby is true, and this "Jack" is really Horace. It all makes perfect sense, and "Jack's" actions are clearly a cover up. I think he only decides halfway through the trial that he is a dead man either way, and that the best way out is get hung quickly, while everyone believes he is Sommersby. Note his final question to Laurel - not "Am I Jack Sommersby", but "Tell me, in your heart, am I your husband?". There's lot's more, and most of it points to "Jack" really being Horace. One last one - when he is arrested "Jack" firmly tells Laurel that he didn't kill anyone, then, in the final conversation with Laurel he says "I killed Horace Townshend". So he can only mean that he is really Horace, and that he "killed" the old Horace.

Make that 100% sure he is really Horace. I also think that the whole tobacco plantation scheme, and the relationship with Laurel, was another scheme by Horace to enrich himself, and that he only decided halfway through the trial to try a different story, and that he would have walked off with the whole of the profits if he hadn't been tried as Sommersby. He only "killed" Horace in the courtroom.

-- Stevo (shosking@acm.org), January 08, 2002.

ps. after watching it the first time I thought he really was Jack, and that he had done a great thing in dying for his good name. It was only on the second take that I picked up all the clues.

Another one. When he is having his foot measured, the cobbler is trying to have a conversation with him. He clearly knows the old Jack, and would like to catch up with him. "Jack" is not interested, and is in fact rude to him by reading the paper instead. The new "Jack" is not always nicer than the old one. Also, his sudden disregard for his father's inheritance is not necessarily a change of heart for the better.

-- Stevo (shosking@acm.org), January 08, 2002.

Sommersby is an awesome movie. I've seen it over 20 times now I believe; just something about it.

My favorite scene is when he's talking to the townsfolk, the two phrases "It's called Burley! They want it, we can grow it!" and "We're all sittin' on a little something'. There's nothin' you can do with that little thing. But maybe..."

He is Horace Townsend. Everytime I watch the movie I pickup a new subtleties. Someone mentioned a few things I've noticed above, here are others to watch for to add to your enjoyment:

- Orin when telling Jack about the crop, says "Hamilton sayers gave me the recipe. You know, Ham Sayers, got that piece of land by the church." Just the scene earlier, Orin was cutting grass in front of Ham Sayer's grave at the Church. That's the piece of land (Ham's grave) he was referring to.

- When driving into town to get shoes, the boy replies "Where in the world are we going?" as if "Jack" doesn't know where he is going. Then "Jack" hands the reigns to the boy. Was he having fun with the boy, or did he just need help finding directions to town? :)

- In the end jail scene where "Jack" remembers "Horace", along with the obvious comment where he says "I will not be Horace Townsend _again_", he also trips up in saying "I buried him the night he killed Carleton." Laurel says "You mean you buried Jack" and he says "I mean I buried Horace." The court proves Jack really killed Carleton (witness+signature match). So he really buried Jack Somersby and he is really Horace Townsend.

- Horace thought Jack was rich when he decided to impersonate him. When Laurel shaves him he quips that Laurel wanted him because he was "Something Rich?" Laurel set him straight saying "You make $900 lose a $1000, you are not rich." He is upset when he roams the farm in the morning seeing Jack Somersby doesn't own much and kicks things around the barn.

- Orin was in the KKK group; "Jack" saw his fake foot and you can plainly make out Bill Pullman's voice.

- Jack's comments leading up to "I'll ask Orin if I can kiss my wife" didn't make any logical sense to me and just wasn't funny. I guess they just wanted to create the scene with him saying "You have a very beautiful smile there Mrs. Somersby, hope to see a lot of it."

- Watch the Trailer with the court scene and compare it to the original where Jodie says "You are not my husband" and Jack replies "How do you know I'm not", followed by interrupting her "How do you know"? In the movie he interrupts her two times but in the trailer just once. The two interruptions version in the movie just doesn't sound right to me.

Some questions I have: ------------------------ - Why does the Law officer (that comes to arrest him) call him "John Roberts Somersby". Is Jack just his nickname?

- In the beginning credit scenes, what does "Jack" throw on the fire he made, his coat? his blanket? ------------------------

That's enough of a post from me for now.

Feel free to email me on comments about Sommersby. I'll have to put together a web-site. :)

-- Horace Townsend (ssawyer1@carolina.rr.com), April 26, 2002.

He is Horace but has to die as Jack because if he admitted to not being Jack than the signatures on the papers giving the former black slaves the land they worked would be useless and they would lose everything and he was a man of his word and didn't want to go back on his word. So he would rather die instead of go against his word. In my opinion that was the whole point of the movie he couldn't let all those people down so he had to die as Jack.

-- Diane Reinke (reinked@fs.porthope.k12.mi.us), May 30, 2002.

I just looked up this movie after having read a book by Janet Lewis called, "The Wife of Martin Guerre". I knew the story was familiar and that I had seen this movie before and knew that Rich. Gere starred in it, but I couldn't think of the name of it. It is an historical novel set in 1500's but I am sure the movie is based on this book. It is too much of a coincidence otherwise. Read it and see for yourself. J.C.

-- jc. (jcmmbm@aol.com), June 25, 2002.

i need help with a comparative review on the novel the wife of martin guerre and the film somersby...any help would be great!! tar

-- joe and jesse (03qui@grammar.tgs.qld.edu.au), April 07, 2003.

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