Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A FAVORITE FILM: "Brokeback Mountain"

A fitting companion piece to my earlier post about Maine and Election night:

I have never identified with  movie characters...or responded with such deep I did with Jack and Ennis and their love story, "Brokeback Mountain".  This could be my all-time favorite film, a singular and unforgetable movie experience, where for the first time I felt love emanating from the screen in terms that touched me more deeply than any I had ever before experienced.  It was the move that I, a lifelong movie junkie, had prepared for my whole life...and after many, many return trips to the theater in its 5-month run, I felt that I might never need to see another, so fulfilled was I with these characters and their heartbreaking story.

Everything here worked...the idyllic Eden of Jack's and Ennis' first summer together, herding sheep, finding in each other fellowship, physical comfort and release, and fierce love neither were prepared to define...the flawed humanity of their failed marriages....their joy at reunion.....the primal sorrow of their loss, symbolized by two shirts and a postcard ....the sensitive direction of Ang Lee, who placed his camera PERFCTLY in every shot...the quiet melancholy of Gustavo Santaoalla's score....the embodiment of Jack and Ennis by the riveting Jake Gyllenhall and the astonishing Heath Ledger....Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams as their neglected and loyal wives....and Annie Proulx's story rendered in perfect heartbreaking detail by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry.

On this day after Maine voters revoked the marriage rights of its gay citizens, I am reminded of how betrayed I felt by Hollywood on the night "Brokeback Mountain" lost the well-deserved Oscar for best Picture, and was used as a weapon by a group of idealogues who nevertheless exploit the talents of its gay artists--and the loyalty of its gay fan base.

What better night to pay tribute to this remarkable film? 


  1. Brokeback Mountain is a beautiful film that boldly explores the intense love between two men and the harsh realities and consequences of living in an intolerant society. During my lifetime, we have made strides in this country towards greater acceptance of gay people, but I am constantly reminded (again today after the Maine results) how many Americans (even in blue states) are threatened by true equality. For one day, I want to challenge those who are straight to imagine what life might be like ... to constantly check and recheck how people may react to simply holding your soulmate's hand in a public setting or more formally to share the moment we all want to experience in life ... to realize that the basic right to marry the person you love is beyond your reach. We still have a long way to go as a society. Brokeback Mountain reminds us of this grim reality.

    Mark Johnson

  2. A great film with some stellar performances that, as you mentioned, was spurned by narrow-minded conservatives because of its subject matter and denied the recognition it so richly deserved.

  3. i saw pieces of this movie once a few years ago. i have thought about checking it out again, but I never got around to it. after reading this review and the emotions it brought up in you makes me want to check it out again.

  4. Thanks for all of your comments!
    Mark, I appreciate your well-written remarks. I will always watch this movie with you.
    Tom, I completely agree with your strong assessment.
    Charles, I hope you will watch the whole film someday. It is challenging and emotional.