What a sad, beautiful, powerful movie. I walked away from this one with such a hole in my heart.
Brokeback Mountain was adapted from a very poignant short story by Annie Proulx. Very short – only thirty pages. But in the hands of its gifted director, Ang Lee, and exceptional writers, Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, the story steps gracefully off the paper and onto the big screen. I imagined it would have a cinematic quality not unlike A River Runs Through It - incredible big-sky vistas, picturesque postcard shots of the Grand Tetons, etc. And it did, but I was enchanted by the story more than anything else.
This film has been pegged “the gay cowboy movie,” yet it transcends issues of sexuality or gender. It’s not just about two men in love, but about anyone who has fallen deeply, passionately and painfully in love. Courageous. Truthful. Completely universal. A modern day western with all the makings of a classic love story.
Two young men, Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) meet in the summer of 1963 sheepherding in the harsh highlands of Wyoming. One is a ranch-hand, the other a rodeo cowboy. Both desperate for cash, they have nothing but the beauty of their surroundings and themselves to bring comfort in their otherwise very lonely lives. The rugged world of Brokeback and the solidarity it had to offer was a calling for each of them. Yet, the promise of a dollar would pale in comparison to the unexpected friendship, unorthodox love and lifelong bond that would forge between them. Their greatest obstacle was not the mountain’s unforgiving environment, but society’s uncompromising ideals. Living up to everyone else’s standards would ultimately break their spirit and their hearts.