Brokeback Mountain – A story previously untold

“A raw, powerful story of two young men, a Wyoming ranch hand and a rodeo cowboy, who meet in the summer of 1963 sheepherding in the harsh, high grasslands of contemporary Wyoming and form an unorthodox yet life-long bond–by turns ecstatic, bitter and conflicted” (imdb.com).

In today’s blog post, I would like to take a look at the celebrated movie ‘Brokeback Mountain’ from 2005. The movie was very successful, received great reviews, attracted large audiences of movie goers and won 3 Academy awards.

First, let’s take a quick look at what some reviews had to say about the movie. In a review of the film the New York Times states:

“In a country that makes not just a virtue but a fetish of rugged individualism – and set against the big-sky backdrop most identified with that virtue – ‘Brokeback Mountain’ strikes a deep and haunting chord. It’s the story of people who, for no good reason, are not allowed to live their lives as they would like” (Durbin, 2005).

The Washington Post stated: “It’s a Hollywood romance with broad, universal themes”(Vargas, 2005).

 In an interview with the website gayinthemedia.com, Hollywood actress Anne Hathawat talks about why she decided to play a supporting role in ‘Brokeback Mountain”. “It’s very rare in Hollywood today to find a motion picture that tells a story that’s never been told before. ‘Brokeback Mountain’ was not only such a movie, but it also was an incredibly poignant one that changed the thinking of many of the people who saw it” (Schweitzer, 2005).

Personally, I think ‘Brokeback Mountain’ was a very significant movie because it told a story that was pretty much untold before. ‘Brokeback Mountain’ brought a same-sex love story to the big screen and surprisingly it was not only successful among the gay or niche audience. The movie tells the story of two guys, two farm hands, who work together on a remote mountain in Wyoming in the summer of 1963. As time goes by, the two guys become intimate and realize that they developed feelings for each other. Nevertheless, during that time of U.S. history homosexuality was not accepted in society and commonly seen as a sickness. Hence, once the summer is over, the two guys separate and return home. They try to forget about their feelings and suppress their homosexuality.  A couple of years later, both of the guys are married by that time, they meet again and they notice that they still have strong feelings for each other. Nevertheless, because of the pressure in society one of them continues to try to fight against his homosexuality and denies his feelings. The movie doesn’t end with a happy ending and emphasizes the harsh reality of that time and the presence of homophobia in society. In the end, one of the two main characters gets killed by a group of homophobes because they find out about his sexual orientation.

Certainly, the movie sends some very important messages. One of them is that not all gay men fit into the stereotypes which are commonly held in society. The two main characters in ‘Brokeback Mountain’ are two very masculine and tough farm hands. Most people would probably not expect them to be gay. Their appereance is not what most people would expect from gay men.

“By the time Brokeback Mountain was released, the media had presented the public with two categories of stereotypically gay man. The first was a composite of the friends who gathered for the birthday party in The Boys in the Band – effeminated, narcissistic, promiscuous, and emotionally weak. The second came by way of Will & Grace and the parade of men who appeared in the high -profile gay films of the 1990s – handsome, charming succesful, and blessed with impeccable taste” (Streitmatter, 171).

In addition to the fact that the movie is challenging these commonly held stereotypes and inviting the audience to rethink their perception about homosexual men, the movie also addresses the issue of anti-gay violence. The movie sends a very strong message to the audience. It emphasizes that “gay men face the very real possibility of becoming victims of anti-gay violence, and, finally, the film makes a dramatic plea for American society to put an end to homophobia” (Streitmatter, 170).

______________________________________________________________

DURBIN, KAREN. “The New York Times.” 4 September 2005. Cowboys in Love . . . With Each Other . 1 May 2011 http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/04/movies/04durb.html?8hpib=&pagewanted=all.

Schweitzer, Noah. “Voices from Brokeback Mountain: Anne Hathaway,” Gays in the Media, December 12, 2005 (www.gaysinthemedia.com/interview/annehathaway).

Vargas, Antonio, “Gay Moviegoers Tip their Hats to a Love Story,” Washington Post, December 14, 2005, C1.”

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About MaxMann

I am a Mass Media student at California State University San Marcos and this blog is part of an idependent study research project.
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