It’s one of the most talked about movies of this Academy Award season, the Golden Globe winner for Best Picture, and it is causing controversy throughout the country.
It all started from the short story “Brokeback Mountain,” written by Annie Proulx, which appeared in the New Yorker in October 1997. The short story was about two men who spent a summer caring for a flock of sheep on the top of Brokeback Mountain and began a relationship that most people prefer would stay behind closed doors. Proulx covers topics controversial for the setting of the story and still controversial today.
The story is about Ennis del Mar (played by Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), who meet in the spring of 1963 when they both work for Farm and Ranch Employment. Neither of them is even 20 yet. Jack had worked there the summer before and it is Ennis’ first time there. The plan for Brokeback Mountain is for Jack to stay with the sheep on one side of the mountain during the night and only come back to Ennis’ campsite for meals. Both boys become tired of the two hour commute to the sheep field, and one night they become a little too drunk and they both stay at the camp site. It is this night that their first interaction with each other occurs. It remains this way until the end of the summer.
The rest of the story follows their ruin four years later when both are married. It details their relationship; Ennis’ wife finding out about the relationship between the men and the hardship and pain their love for each other brings them when they are not able to be together.
The movie and the story are similar. As you watch the movie you can see the story play itself out. The biggest difference perhaps is in an added story line with Ennis and his eldest daughter. The movie adds a few visits with his daughter and a relationship that is awkward but at least building; his younger daughter does not even speak to him.
The movie is a great portrayal of the story and all the actors involved did an incredible job of bringing the story to life and creating all the emotions necessary for their roles. There is one scene, however, that just falls short of the significance it is given in the story.
After an incredibly intense argument and a surge of emotions between Jack and Ennis, there is an account of a time when Ennis simply came up behind Jack on Brokeback Mountain and held him. Jack leaned back against him, wrapped in his arms. There are no words exchanged for several minutes and it is a moment of love, not passion that is driving the two men. It is a mere flash of a scene in the movie. Yet it is perhaps one of the most important moments in the story that helps to explain the relationship between these two men.
“Brokeback Mountain” is sure to be talked about for years to come. It is a turning point, a realization that gay characters can lead on the big screen, and they are no different than straight characters. Brokeback Mountain has broken down boundaries that have been so ingrained in society that this movie has caused controversy and also received praise in many ways.
This movie may have started something, a new movement in cinema and it is only time before the country sees where this movement is going to go.