September 16, 2020
Brokeback Mountain is a movie that came out in 2005. It managed to hold captive an audience who were barely ready to see beyond heteronomy. And not only did the story move beyond the boundaries of urban life, but it also discussed broken homes.
The movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, as the leads, Jack Twist and Ennis Del Marr. The plot of the movie is based on the short story, Brokeback Mountain written by Annie Proulx. Cowboys, drunk nights, and heterosexual marriages, Brokeback Mountain is no short of a westside movie with a touch of gay.
The Loneliness of Brokeback Mountain
Jack Twist and Ennis Del Marr are two Cowboys struggling to make their livelihood. They live on opposite ends of the borders. They are hardworking, rough-mannered, and come from poor households. Although Ennis strikes as a man who wishes to do more than tend to his ranch but as a victim of his situation, he is brought up by his siblings after his parents died and barely has any money left.
The duo meets each other when as they look for jobs during spring. The two sign up to the Farm and Ranch Employment. Jack has more experience with the Farm and Ranch Employment. They are assigned to pasture sheep together. The two are guided by the manager of the farm, and spend the evening drinking away in a bar.
Jack and Ennis spend time together pasturising sheep. Riding on pretty horses, surrounded by meadows and loved by puppies, the setup is quite romantic. Even though their handler, Joe Aguirre asks them to sleep with the sheep, the two pitch a tent together when Jack realises that he spends a lot of time travelling and rarely catching any sleep.
The romance between the two is not overt or open. They admire each other from afar and hang out together as any two friends would. They drink, talk about their families, and don’t judge each other’s choices. But all of that soon changes after one night at the sheep farm.
Both of them are younger than twenty!
At least according to the story by Proulx, Jack and Ennis are both aged lesser than 20 and Ennis is already engaged to Alma Beers. And the two men are actually adolescent boys who have been forced to find their way in the world. Over the summer, the two men bond only to depart when summer ends. And Ennis reminds Jack that he is to marry Alma in December. The couple are forced to drift apart.
When the couple is forced to end things, both Jack and Ennis are left feeling gutted. Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger have delivered the scene beautifully. The pain is so raw and distinct. Especially considering the time and the place they are in, the reality cracks the glass of fantasy they had so roughly built for themselves.
Soon Ennis is married and has children on both his arms. And Jack too is married. A few years down the line, Jack visits Ennis, and the couple is reunited. Even though it is for a short span of time. Everything from then goes south very very quickly.
Beating The Stigma
Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger will leave you grabbing for tissues by the end of the movie. And sorry for the spoiler, but the movie ends on an extremely sad note that you almost see coming. You will see yourself rooting for the couple nonetheless.
Understand homosexuality in the 1970s-80s, one can expect how difficult it would be to be gay. Jack himself says he is not queer even after spending the night with Ennis. The homophobia is deeply seated in all of their minds. For Jack or Ennis, this is not an irrational fear of being homosexual. It is rather the fear of society and the norms they have learned over time.
Jack and Ennis know the reality of the situation, and Ennis feels deeply for Alma, especially since has two kids with her. But little does he realise that Alma would be the downfall of their love and even the death of one of them.
If you ever want to understand homophobia or the struggles of having to “come out of the closet”, Brokeback Mountain gives you a great perspective. Even though the story is set in the late 70s and early 80s, there are bits that are still the same in many rural regions of countries around the world. The plotline is slightly predictable and will wear you down at some point. But the acting, direction, and production is par excellence.
The IMDb rating for the movie is 7.7 and is much better than many other LGBT+ movies that we have witnessed before. And if you feel like watching a movie that moves you, even if it is to tears, then this your weekend watch.