Director Ang Lee has produced an emotionally powerful film Brokeback Mountain (2005) out of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx’s story about forbidden love, with Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Michelle Williams giving outstanding performances. That is exactly why the film won three Academy Awards in 2006 including Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score. It was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor-Heath Ledger, Best Supporting Actor-Jake Gyllenhaal, Best Supporting Actress-Michelle Williams, and Best Cinematography-Rodrigo Prieto.
The movie is sublime on every level, not just because it is about homosexual cowboy love. The plot revolves around themes of forbidden love, marital deception, missed opportunities, honesty, helplessness and so on. It’s the story about two guys who are forced to deny the love they’ll ever have because of the time and area they live in. Their tale can be summed up with the phrase “right person, wrong place and wrong time.”
Set in 1963, the film’s two male protagonists, Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger), are 19-year-olds who work together grazing sheep in rural Wyoming. The characters form a friendship which gradually becomes physical. In the years that follow, the two move on with their lives, marrying and having children, yet they can’t seem to stay away from each other. They keep coming back to each other because Brokeback Mountain symbolised freedom to them; the freedom from commitments, financial worries, and the pressures of mundane life.
Ennis understands that this is impossible as he remembers his father taking him to see the mutilated body of the town’s resident gay when he was a child. He was taught to hate his own feelings right from his childhood.
The film ends, with Jack dead, leaving back Ennis alone, divorced and disconnected from the world. He has with him the only cherished possessions and a ripped shirt from their time together and a postcard of Brokeback Mountain.
Lee’s film incorporates a style that is both romantic and accessible, yet never approaching commercialism. This is proven in the first half of the plot when he depicts the beautiful scenes, evoking the more gorgeous vistas in Gus Van Sant’s. Most audiences will find a half-hour of mountains, sheep, changing seasons, and limited conversation a bit lengthy, but Lee eases us into an affair that might otherwise feel pressured and awkward. It’s a wonderful and heart-breaking film and that is exactly what makes Brokeback Mountain special even today.
Image Source IMDb