Opening a hidden, real world to the mainstream
Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar have had to work pretty hard for everything they have in their young, rustic lives. Both come from working class, ranch families, and both know what hard work means. It means getting their hands dirty, getting up early, staying up late and eating a lot of beans over an open fire. It’s clear that hardship is something to which they are accustom.When the two arrive separately to find work at a sheep grazing ranch on Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming circa 1963, they don’t have much in their lives but a need for work, a need for money and a need for routine. They find all of this on Brokeback Mountain, along with each other’s companionship. The companionship, clearly, is not one like Clint Eastwood shares with his loyal sidekicks.It’s a shame that everyone who walks into the theater to see “Brokeback Mountain” knows ahead of time that it’s a movie about gay cowboys. I think this preconception alters the impact of the film, mainly because most of us are not accustom to seeing a graphic love story involving two men. Thus, knowing that this sort of love story, so rarely seen on the big screen in mainstream cinema, is going to unfold, most of us watch the preliminary scenes and find ourselves wondering, “so, when are they going to kiss?”
There is nothing subtle about the romance between Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis (Heath Ledger). The movie is about their love and its isolation on Brokeback Mountain.The film is based on a short fiction story by Annie Proulx, which, as she says on her Website (www.annieproulx.com), stemmed from years of “examination of country homophobia in the land of the great, pure, noble cowboy.”Watching the film, one knows that the romance between Jack and Ennis is entirely realistic. Some people (see, Utah cinema owners) don’t want to believe that love between two people of the same sex is real or acceptable. Even those who share it don’t want to believe it.There’s a scene in the film when Ennis tells Jack, “I’m not queer.” After a couple seconds, Jack, replies, “Me neither.”
Brokeback Mountain, the only safe place where the two, who attempt “normal” heterosexuals lives with wives, children, steady jobs, laundry, dishes, etc., can meet throughout the years, is symbolic of the very isolated nature of their romance. When Ennis was a young boy, his father showed him a mangled corpse – this is what happens to a man living alone with another man: He is beaten to death and sickly mutilated. Anyone who would like to believe this scenario is one that only plays out in Hollywood drama, think again. See Matthew Wayne Shepard – the 21-year-old homosexual college student who, in 1998, was lured by two men from a bar in Wyoming, driven out to the middle of nowhere, tied to a split rail fence, beaten, tortured and left for dead. A few days later, some fraternity members at Colorado State University built a mangled scarecrow simulation of Shepard on their Homecoming float, complete with obscene remarks written on its shirt along with “I’m gay.”Why some people have such a problem with other people’s love and other people’s attraction – something that is none of their business and completely harmless to the rest of the world – is truly baffling. “Brokeback Mountain” is a phenomenal, realistic love story. It’s realistic and sad. Perhaps some viewers will find the graphic scenes of passion between Jack and Ennis a bit jarring, but now that a film like this has made it into the mainstream, maybe this aspect of reality will grow to be less of a shock to society. Maybe it can be perceived as less of a malady or a crime.
Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext.14632, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado