Last Updated 27 Jan 2021

Essay on Brokeback Mountain

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Brokeback Mountain was a much talked about movie due to its theme. Some labelled the movie as a ‘gay cowboy movie’, which does not do the movie justice. Yes, the movie is about two cowboys who fall in love with each other but to categorize it as just a ‘gay cowboy movie’ simplifies a love story of a group of people that have often been denied of real representation in the media, especially the mainstream media. The movie opens in 1963 in Wyoming when two young cowboys are looking for work as sheep herder.

The two cowboys, Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal), are sent to Brokeback mountain to herd sheep’s and it is there that both fall in love with each other. After this realization, both go their separate ways; Ennis back home to his sweetheart, Alma (Michelle Williams) and Jack to Texas to be a rodeo rider. Four years later, the two are reunited when Jack visits Ennis. At this point both men are married with kids; Ennis to Alma and Jack to Lureen (Anne Hathaway).

The two meet together once a year in Brokeback Mountain, the one place both men feel safe and comfortable to express their love for each other, over a 20-year period. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal masterfully portrayed their characters to a tee. Ennis Del Mar is a very simple and quite man who just wants to find a place for himself in the world while Jack Twist is outgoing, full of dreams which, due to the blatant homophobia of the time and location, cannot come true. Jack’s dream is to live with Ennis in their own ranch, a dream that Ennis knows is unrealistic.

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Ennis is tormented by his love for Jack because as a child he witnessed what happened to a man who lived in a union others deemed not right while Jack is tormented by Ennis’s refusal to accept and acknowledge their relationship beyond Brokeback Mountain. Some in the mainstream media, which took some people by surprise, positively received Brokeback Mountain. The movie was critically praised and received many awards for the actors and director. Heath Ledger was nominated for the best actor category in a drama, Michelle Williams for best supporting actress in a drama and Ang Lee for director, which he won at the Oscar’s.

Since Brokeback Mountain came out, there have been several shows and movies that have gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and transsexual (tblg) characters featured. Ang Lee said it best when he accepted his award for director for Brokeback Mountain “the power of movies to change the way we’re thinking” (Globes goes to ‘Brokeback’, ‘Walk the lines’; International Herald Tribute, January 17, 2006). Only time will tell if this will led to society being more open-minded of people from the tblg community. A good indication of acceptance is when such movies are classified as a romantic movie instead of a ‘gay cowboy movie’

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