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Brokeback Mountain

Art House & International, Gay & Lesbian, and Westerns movie directed by Ang Lee

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Brokeback Mountain a tale of courage

  • Dec 11, 2008
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Movie Review: Brokeback Mountain

December 8, 2005 by Amy | Edit

By Amy Lamare, December 8, 2005

To simply call Brokeback Mountain (BRKMT) a gay western is to deny the core of the movie's message. Sure Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger (HLEDG)) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal (JGYLL)) are men. But the struggle they face is not one exclusive to homosexual relationships. Rather, their struggle is a human condition. It is a struggle of strength and faith in who you are and your ability, your courage, to live up to your potential. Though the fact that this ranch hand and rodeo cowboy also happen to love each other deeply is as central to the story as their affair is, it is not anywhere near the whole story. It underscores their pain and the loss they've had throughout their entire lives.

The story opens in a rural Wyoming town in 1963. The sky and mountain vistas are vast and two young cowboys wait for the ranch office to open. They size each other up. They pose. They grunt. They do not talk. In fact, for the first act of the film there is not much conversation. Instead their burgeoning relationship and friendship are displayed through Jack's gestures and Ennis' stillness and powerful gaze. The more noise Jack makes, the quieter and more droll Ennis becomes. The more Jack pushes, the more Ennis retreats. This is a theme to his entire life.

They are waiting for local rancher Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid (RQUAI)) to show up. They need jobs, you see, and Aguirre has a flock of 1,000 sheep that need herding up on Brokeback Mountain. Ennis and Jack are hired and set off for the wilderness. Set against the beauty and vastness of the Wyoming mountains, this intimate tale gets off to a slow and somewhat awkward start. Ennis is quiet, full of meaningful stares and inspired grunts. Jack is a bit of a clown, jabbering away when not playing his harmonica. There is an innocence and sweetness to the way the men come to know each other. Their backgrounds are revealed in bits and pieces. They know their place in the world. This is the 60s. They live in a small town with a narrow, repressed view of the world. They will marry women, have children, make a living off the land. And if they are lucky, they'll have some small measure of happiness.

Then one cold and stormy night their relationship takes a turn toward the intimate. At the time, the abruptness of this change was jarring, but in retrospect, it completely works with the theme of the movie. Do you have the courage to act on things, to be who you really are? Do you confront life? Or run from it?

The summer ends and the men return home. Ennis marries Alma (Michelle Williams (MWILL)) and they have two daughters. Jack returns to Texas and meets a wealthy rodeo queen named Lureen (Anne Hathaway (AHATH).They marry and have a son. Four years later Jack reappears in Ennis' life and they pick up where they left off, much to the dismay of Alma. In the years that follow, the men struggle with their feelings for each other and how to deny them when apart, revive them when together. How will keeping such a big secret from their wives affect them, change them?

The characters are richly drawn and woven into the framework of the story and the specific era it takes place in. Alma, for instance, is a small town girl whose life's ambition was to be a wife and mother. She has no frame of reference for what she saw pass between Ennis and Jack. She cannot process it, and from that point forward, we see Williams' Alma evolve like a butterfly from its chrysalis. She's been protected her entire life from the realities of the changing world. And with one embrace, one kiss, a renewed sense of energy and joy in her husband, all that changed. And so too, must she change to protect herself and her daughters.

Ledger is brilliant as the withdrawn and brooding Ennis Del Mar. He has a stillness to his performance that is almost creepy. His childhood was tough, orphaned at a young age, he more or less had to fend for himself. From the moment Ennis appears on the screen you know this is a man who did not have the influence of a mother in his life. His entire persona exudes the history of his character. In the instances where Ennis is forced (by Jack, by Alma) to deal with reality, to show some emotion - you can see the turmoil churning in his eyes and his jaw and the eventual outpouring seems to be torn from some damaged place deep within Heath Ledger's soul.

Brokeback Mountain is a love story. The themes of love, loss, fidelity and trust run rampant through the script. Marketing will be tough in the current socially conservative climate in the U.S. Do yourself a favor: don't pre-judge this film. Go see it, feel it, relate it to your own experience in life as best you can. To deny yourself the beauty of this story because it involves two men in love is to do yourself a huge disservice. Love and courage are universal - they are not dependent on sexual orientation.

Now ask yourself: Do you have the strength to be who you really are?

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December 11, 2008
"gay western" can be anything you percieve it to be I suppose. Some people might call "Young Guns" a gay western. LOL
More Brokeback Mountain reviews
review by . October 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Simply put, Brokeback Mountain is a standard star-crossed love story. Romeo and Juliet belonged to warring houses; Ennis Delmar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) belong to the same gender. But like a powerful haiku, the simplicity belies what is really going on.      More than 5 minutes of the film pass before the first words are spoken. This would indicate one of two things--this is going to be boring as hell, or the story is going to be more complex than one …
review by . December 16, 2008
After watching Brokeback Mountain a few years ago, I was left with the distinct impression that it gave me a sense of pride to truly embrace the human qualities shared between two men. I felt that the chemistry between Heatlh Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal was there as they were able to convincingly portray the lives of these characters by putting their heart and soul into these roles. I could definitely relate to Heath Ledger's role as he was married and had children, but somehow through the midst …
review by . December 10, 2008
When I first saw Brokeback Mountain I left the cinemas, broke down into a mess, sat in my car weeping, drove home, cried, and fell into a state of depression for about 20 days. I eventually crawled out of bed, went to campus, and discussed it with a professor who offered sage advice: not everyone falls in love with someone who will ultimately be killed by an angry mob. Okay, I felt a little better after that.    If a film covers a taboo subject like gay love, racism, American …
review by . December 16, 2008
I watched about half of this movie a few weeks ago and the other half last night.  For some reason I could not catch the whole movie.  Anyway, this movie is so powerful, it's not just about two gay cowboys but a lot more than that.  You'll have to look with better eyes to realize it's simply a movie about human compassion and attraction that we all have within us.  No matter your orientation this movie is a tearjerker and one of the best movies I've seen in a long time.  …
review by . July 13, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
I believe we can. This movie will be remembered for years and years to come due to its superb acting, majestic cinematography, incredible dialog, intense emotion, cogent storyline, and the excellent score converged into making this two-hour-plus movie one of the great landmarks in the history of the cinema. I agree with those who say that this movie will be discussed and studied, along with the great ones: `Casablanca,' `Citizen Kane,' etc......    Heath Ledger's rough-and-tough-but-tender-and-v …
review by . February 26, 2006
Pros: Artfully directed; supremely acted.      Cons: Nothing really.     The Bottom Line: In the final analysis Brokeback Mountain is a stunning and provocative film and could not have been made and released at a more divisive time in American cultural history.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot. Let me preface this review by stating that watching two men make out makes me, well, squeamish, but …
review by . January 13, 2006
Pros: Acting, scenery, story      Cons: none     The Bottom Line: One of the best films I have seen in a long time. The only movie to live up to its hype that I can remember.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. Simply put, Brokeback Mountain is a standard star-crossed love story. Romeo and Juliet belonged to warring houses; Ennis Delmar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) belong to the …
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Amy Lamare ()
I usually explain my near savant like knowledge of football and love for the game like this: I have brothers. And I went to USC. That shuts about 50% of inquisitors up. heh. So yeah, About Me. I figured … more
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About this movie


Brokeback Mountain, starring Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams, and Randy Quaid, is a romantic drama that explores the romantic and sexual relationship between two men in the American West between 1963 and 1983. The fim, its director, and its cast won countless awards at home and overseas for their performances, despite the film's depiction of a taboo sexual topic.

Brokeback Mountain was released to limited audiences on December 9, 2005 but was released to over 2,000 theatres by February 3, 2006.

A sad, melancholy ache pervadesBrokeback Mountain, Ang Lee's haunting, moving film that, like his other movies, explores societal constraints and the passions that lurk underneath. This time, however, instead of taking on ancient China, 19th-century England, or '70s suburbia, Lee uses the tableau of the American West in the early '60s to show how two lovers are bound by their expected roles, how they rebel against them, and the repercussions for each of doing so--but the romance here is between two men. Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) are two itinerant ranchers looking for work in Wyoming when they meet and embark on a summer sheepherding job in the shadow of titular Brokeback Mountain. The taciturn Ennis, uncommunicative in the extreme, finds himself opening up around the gregarious Jack, and the two form a bond that surprisingly catches fire one cold night out in the wilderness. Separating at the end of ...
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