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December 16, 2005

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How cynical!
This is indeed a tragic story, but the fleeting moments of happiness, passion, and beauty are only heightened by the eventual, inexorable tragedy, as is often the case in really epic love stories. There is no indication, however, that the film is suggesting that homosexual relationships can't be 'anything other than tragic'; it is simply depicting one of them, and makes no claims of universality, though undoubtedly, given the time and place, it sadly may have been a common one. In retrospect, however, given the recent Matthew Shepherd murder and the countless closeted married men who still live these lies, it is a story that remains urgently relevant today and desperately needs to be told.

Lightening up this movie out of a misguided desire to show affirming happy gay relationships would have been the real tragedy. Slapping a happy ending on to Annie Proulx's award-winning story would have been the most cowardly and dishonest betrayal, and would only have resulted in another callow, featherweight gay flick. Adding a happy gay couple to show the audience that homosexual relationships aren't all 'tragic' would have been formulaic, preachy, and out-right contextually incoherent in 60s Wyoming.

Belittling Ledger's undeniably stunning performance as 'Oscar-baiting' is a slap in the face to an actor who has said repeatedly he thinks acting awards are beside-the-point and not meaningful. Willam's performance was also wonderful, why wasn't it 'Oscar-baiting'? Because she wasn't playing gay?

Calling Lee's admittedly gorgeous cinematography 'pretentious' is patently ridiculous! The shots are simple still frames or slow pans. How can a natural rock formation be pretentious? Should he have shot the whole film in close-up so as not to risk showing too much beautiful, 'pretentious' scenery?

These characters are the most passionate, honest, and conflicted portrayals I have ever seen on screen. Suggesting they aren't 'complex' or 'forthright' enough begs the question: how could they be more so? How could these tortured souls, struggling with each other, with themselves, and with a love the don't understand but cannot escape, be more 'complex'? How could their portrayl, as honest and convincing as we all recognize it to be, be more 'forthright'?

I think you are overreaching when you find fault using these tenuous, cynical, and vague criticisms. I would like to hear what your real problem with this film is.

Dear Nick,
I initially agreed with you that BM was guilty of perpetuating the ADH ("Another Dead Homo")formula to which you allude (cf. KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN, PHILADELPHIA, LONGTIME COMPANION, etc. etc. ad nauseum). But on second viewing the film has gotten under my skin, and not just for its brave "spit-lube" sequence. It's the first mainstream Hollywood release to treat two men's feelings as full-on romantic love at the center of a story. Even though the love is doomed, it is very real and powerful, and that is an achievement. There is respect for that love in this film, and the love achieves a tragic grandeur not seen in any significant Hollywood film before. Baby steps....

h.m.c.

I saw this movie last night and don't agree with this review's assertion. The movie didn't say to me gay men are unable to have lasting happiness, it's said THESE two guys, Jack and Ennis, because of their situations, the time, and setting, were unable to even reach for it. To me the revolutionary thing about this movie was not the very brief and urgent sexual scene between the men. That is what it is. Nope, what's revolutionary and what emotionally devastates is how they kissed like starving men after not seeing each other for four years, and it was the final time they spent on the mountain and what they said to each other, what they each NEEDED to say to each other... and it was the last scenes of the movie that everything that transpired before has built up to.

The movie explores a homosexual relationship between men that isn't JUST sexual, and is about love and longing. When love is accurately portrayed it is universal. I reveals truths in a way that exposes the yakkity-yak about so-called 'alternative lifestyles' to be utterly meaningless. Jack and Ennis didn't have alternative lifestyles, they had LIVES. We experience their lives through this film. The final scene in Jack's boyhood bedroom and at the closet of Ennis's mobile home have an unexpressible human impact. It's a tremendous movie.

Brief responses to the above three comments:

To Matthew:

I don't think my review is cynical, and I stand by my comments that Lee's direction is superficial and that Ledger's performance is overly affected in a way that usually appeals to (if not directly panders to) award voters. Furthermore, I absolutely do think that the film makes a claim for universality - as does Anthony Arena in his comment below - by treating its story like a grand, epic tragedy about a common theme (repressed love).

Finally, your comment that "I would like to hear what your real problem with this film is" implies that I have ulterior motives for not liking the movie besides those mentioned in my review. Not only is this not true, but I can't help but find such a statement insulting and unwarranted. Just because one doesn't enthusiastically love Brokeback Mountain doesn't mean one naturally has an agenda against it.


To "h.m.c" (is that you, Matt?):

I agree that the film should get credit for how it non-judgmentally portrays same-sex romance. But I don't think that it "achieves a tragic grandeur not seen in any significant Hollywood film before." It often felt very conventional, familiar and cold to me. But that's just me.


To Anthony Arena:

I agree that "when love is accurately portrayed, it is universal." But I never felt all that emotionally involved in Jack and Ennis' relationship, in part because I felt that the film never accurately portrayed their love. Namely, it never showed WHY these two men loved each other in the first place. What was their love based on? I have no idea what they saw in each other (other than their similar sexual preferences and job), what interests or feelings they had in common, and what made their bond so strong that it came to define their lives. Lee was so busy turning them into archetypcal symbols of ill-fated lovers that he did nothing to show us what it was that really united them in such a (seemingly) profound way.

I enjoyed your review, and agree for the most part, however, I did not interpret the nature scenes to represent freedom, as you did, but rather I thought it was an attempt to juxtapose a stark contrast between what is natural and beautiful to what is unnatural and ugly (I am not offering an opinion, just making an observation).

Your comment to Anthony Arena could not have been more true. It could have (should have) been a great movie.

Nick isn't homophobic; his favorite Ali G character is Bruno.

Nick,

You made astute observations about "BM". It is more an elegy, a thesis film, than a love story. Like you, I sensed no love, no enduring joy between the Jack and Ennis (that would compel them to keep seeing each other for 20 years), just a lot of complaining and sadness.

The filmmakers basically tell us that *because* they keep seeing each other under tough circumstances for 20 years, it *must* be great love.

Just to be sure, I do not necessarily long for a happy ending between the two. But rather a more detailed depiction of moment-to-moment love between the two, regardless of their final outcome. That would have been brave filmmaking.

Love here is just an "idea", not anything that is genuinely expressed when they are together.

No Nick "h.m.c" is not me posing as someone else. I sign my comments and I don't need to fabricate concurring opinions to support my own.

I absolutely agree that Lee is trying to transmit a universal theme of tragic love, but the reason it is universal is precisely because it transcends gay and straight. If it were a 'universal' theme of 'tragic gay love' it wouldn't be very universal would it? Nowhere is the movie saying that all gay relationships are tragic. Where do you get this idea?

In fact, the only way to make us sympathize with these characters is to make us identify with them as human beings, to show us something transcendent in their love, and that perhaps there was hope it might have endured. The fact it ended in tragedy was a result of the time and place, and the external and internalized oppression placed upon it.

I can't find any basis for your opinions. They depend on attributing bizarre and cynical motives to the director and cast. (The 'Oscar baiting' and 'pretentious scenery' comments especially.) That is why I want to know what your real problem with the movie is. I would love to know.

To NewYork FilmViewer:

Thanks for the nice comments. I completely agree.

To Matthew:

First, the reason I thought you were someone else is that I have a good friend named Matt whose nickname is "hoco" (short for Howard County, Maryland). So I suspected it might have been him.

Nonetheless, I've already explained my "real problems" with the movie, both in the review and now in these comment posts. And I don't think that anything I've said indicates that I have "bizarre and cynical motives" for being critical of the movie. I just thought it was flawed.

Anyway, I'm not going to rehash what I've already said, since it seems unlikely to change your mind. Which is fine. Feel free to disagree.

I have to say, I mainly agree with Nick and his review.

I do not, however, think that Ledger's performance was overly affected. I found him quite amazing, actually. He was not one of the things that disappointed me about this film.

I was, however, mildly disappointed, but I think that's mainly because I had such high expectations for it. I agree that the cinematography was too still and stale at times (though I wouldn't go so far as to call the nature shots 'pretentious') and that the story just seemed thin and uninvolving in the latter half. Interestingly, the whole thing seemed very "classical Hollywood"... I thought it worked at times, other times not so much. Eh. Oh well.

Ha. Hoco reading our blogs? I'd sooner believe in Santa Claus.

Yeah, I know, the idea that Hoco might actually be reading this blog - and posting a comment about Brokeback Mountain, no less - is pretty ridiculous. But I had to make sure.

I have not yet seen Brokeback Mountain, but will hazard to make a comment or two about the premise of the film, even though there is a (great) risk that I will misrepresent the movie (and I look forward to being corrected, should that be the case).

First, I would like to comment on a couple of the threads of the discussion above. The original reviewer argues that the film imagines gay romance as tragic, and subsequently an other reviewer argues that the film only suggests that the particular love between the two represented men is tragic. I would like to agree with the original reviewers' rebuttal to this argument. A film is never *just* about two particular people: placed within an aesthetic form, such as an epic film, two people become archetypes for much larger issues. Most importantly, from what I have heard, the two protagonists of this film do little to distinguish themselves from their archetypes, that is: they do little to suggest that they are 'particular' people in love, rather than just 'cowboys' in love. A film can argue that two 'particular' people are in fact representative of a 'general' phenomenon by celebrating, aggrandizing, making aesthetic, the stories of two 'general', unparticular people. In this way, a story is always a way of imagining a particular moral problem. In this case, based on what I have heard, the film imagines the love of these two cowboys as tragic, and in so doing, it is *unable* to re-imagine the moral problem of homosexual love as anything but tragic. Of course it is possible a movie can, indeed, show the story of two particular people in love, but that is another story - and by all accounts - not what this movie is.

So what *has* this movie done that is original? It would appear that its greatest originality lies in inserting the tragic gay love story into the the seemingly homo-proof cowboy and western story (in fact, cowboy western's are not homo-proof as a viewing of the documentary 'the celluloid closet' will reveal). The movie appears to say: these two, seemingly straight men can actually have same-sex desire. If the movie does not re-imagine the form of the gay love story (it is always tragic), then perhaps it does ask us to re-imagine the players. But, is there a problem with this?

I would argue that there is potentially a problem with inserting seemingly 'straight' archetypes into a gay story, especially when it seems, (once again, based on all that I have heard or read about this movie) that this is essentially all that the movie accomplishes (albeit, within the framework of a very sophisticatedly acted and beautifully shot film). The problem with this is that it gives into the fantasy that 'gay' love *could* be straight. As though somewhere out there - maybe in the back waters of 1960's America - gay was actually straight. Before all of the camp stereotypes, before gay-rights, AIDS, Stonewall, rainbow flags -- 'gayness' existed silently between real, masculine, and - most importantly - straight acting men.

Often a movie about gay protagonists which does not resort to camp, queer stereotypes is automatically lauded as showing a 'sensitive' portrayal of gay people. But it is important to note that simply putting straight stereotypes in their places is by no means any better. What one wants is to show people who are neither stereotype - and to show *their* love as grand, epic, worthy of a being important.

Ang Lee's film - and indeed, Proulx's story - appears to be a very ambiguous re-imagining of straight and gay archetypes which satisfies both a latent phobia of actual 'gay' people with a manifest desire to accept them by reinvesting an older 'straight' story with queer content.

I have to say I was disappointed as well. It reminds me of that movie in the mid-70s, "Making Love". It has a plastic coating on it. It just doesn't come across as genuine. As another poster here commented, where was the joy between these two? I would think during the course of a two-hour love story, there would be at least a scene or two of some laughter. Life is not relentlessly downbeat the way this film is. If it were, we might as well all drink some spiked kool aid right now. The one thing in this film that really felt false was the parents of Jack refusing to grant their son's wish of having his ashes scattered where he wanted them to go, on Brokeback Mountain. How cruel of his parents to Jack and Ennis, and of the filmmaker to us, the audience. More a statement on backwater hillbillies' hangups (or, perhaps more accurately, a director's desire to show nearly all minor characters as relentlessly mean, to keep the depression level up) than a good film, "Brokeback Mountain" is a needlessly bleak, joyless trip, without the real sentiment necessary to validate its tone. Unfortunately, judging from this overly serious production, Hollywood still hasn't come very far since the 1970s in dealing with same-sex relationships in a natural, unaffected way.

I went to see this movie, out of deference to a friend. I am sorry to say, that had I not done so I would have walked out. I am amazed at the "great reviews" this movie is getting, and it is only because of the subject matter. Those reviewers are simply not being truthful. First of all, this is a terrible movie. Slow, pandering, no chemistry between Ledger and Jake, their first sexual encounter was more of a rape than lovemaking, and then it slowly showed how they RUINED the lives around them including their own. In the scene where Ledger "flips" his wife over to remind himself of his homosexual lover, the only character I really felt sorrow for was his poor, long suffering wife, and that scene was disgusting.

It was so obvious that Jake was homosexual and pursuing Ledger, who didn't seem to be so at first. He even took lovers in Mexico and a lover of a famiy friend (!) in the end, so if this film were to be realistic it should have shown him contractinig AIDS, more than likely.

This film will not bring anyone into the homosexual corner, it will turn people, except those who have their own agenda, totally off. I found it sordid, boring and badly done.

Broke down and finally saw this flick last night - what a sleeper! With the emphasis on sleeper. It's defining characteristic is "dull" - 2 hours of plodding snippets from the lives of two rather pathetic men.

The first 30 minutes is spent "developing" their relationship. With the exception of Jack's provocative porn star like posing when they first meet, there is nary a hint of sexual tension between these two men until the fateful tent scene - shocking precisely because it was so unexpected. We are to believe a tender and loving 20 year romance developed out of a violent drunken romp that turns to full sodomy in less than 15 seconds - give me a break.

Both characters are pathetic liars - but their dishonesty is somehow supposed to be legitimated because of a vague threat of anti-gay violence - it's Wyoming after all! (in spite of the fact that gays are probably safer from bashing in Wyoming with its libertarian heritage and openy gay mayor of Casper than, say, West Hollywood.) And the threat certainly doesn't explain why Jack lies about his other boyfriend to Ennis.

Emotionally immature men are a dime a dozen - but is it really worth $8 bucks and two hours to watch movie about em?

What sad comments made by June Girl and Tom Stevens!

June Girl: From your comment, it sounds like you're the one with the hidden agenda. First of all, the movie is supposed to be quiet and slow, this isn't an action flick afterall. Secondly, their first sex scene shows how men react sexually with each other based on their raw, animal instinct. Their goal was to get-off, not to pleasure each other (read about that in a psychology textbook, it's in there). And please explain why it is "disgusting" that he flipped his wife during sex? is it because anal sex grosses you out? or is it because you think it's wrong that he thinks about Jack while having sex with his wife?

Also, June Girl, the movie isn't to "bring anyone into the homosexual corner" - it does not have a hidden message, it just tells the story of the two men, period. If it is trying to send a message, then Ennis or Jack would live happily ever after. Giving Jack AIDS would be sending a message of another kind (which would be being gay is a sin and you will die) - and this movie isn't about that.

As for Tom Stevens' comment - you have missed the mark. They lie because they don't know how to deal with their love for each other and because society forces them to lie. What do you mean by vauge anti-gay violence? the story took place from the 1960s-1980s - gay and lesbians still fear bashing today in a lot of places , let alone in the 60s-80s. Also, sure, the first time they had sex was raw, emotionless, but then they got attached to each other. Why? because sex creates an intimate bond between two human beings - it was through this intimacy (and the longing for it) that established the basis of their love.

Sure, emotionally immature, pathetic men are a dime a dozen - but the it's worth paying $8 for watching these two men because of WHY they are so "emotionally immature" and pathetic. Instead of seeing the movie as propaganda for homosexuality, try watching it again (or read the short story) with your heart- you might see something different.

I'm sorry Ryan, but yes, the fact that Jack sodomized his wife because of his longing for another man was nothing short of disgusting, and cruel!! Her character was the only one I felt sorry for in this entire mess of a movie. I also agree with the comments of the second poster under me.

The movie simply does NOT show homosexuals in a very flattering light, and I don't buy the 20 year "love affair" after the 15 seconds of "gratification" that you seem to think are normal. I've got news for you, it isn't. If this is your idea of normal sex, you're missing a lot!

I stand by my comments. It is a shame that this film will do damage - much more than it helps. Watch and see. The only ones who like it have an agenda.

June Girl -
First and foremost...what is this agenda that you speak of?
Is it that mythological agenda that we homosexuals have to take over and corrupt your families and eat your first born?
Please, just get off it. An agenda (and for sake of arguement... EQUALITY and acceptance...not special rights...does not make for an agenda) does not exist in the gay community, and if it does, I missed the memo.
I for one enjoyed the movie, not saying it was perfect but I enjoyed it. It was an interesting portrayal a love story. I find it to be pretty realistic, and a great example for the complexities of human beings. This brings me to your "normal sex" quote...
Not everyone lives a 9-5 white bread world (heck I doubt ANYONE does...everyone has their secrets and desires/kink). This movie is perfect example of sexual orientations in secret.
It's your opinion if you don't think this movie shows homosexuals, or heterosexuals for that matter in a flattering light...no one is seen with rose colored glasses in this movie. Everyone is raw and vulnerable.
I for one am impressed with the way this film panned out. I do think that human beings in this movie were shown for the first time in a long time, as real. I am also happy to see a movie dealing with gay issues that does not end with some character dying of AIDS. (which is another silly comment June) That stereotype has been beaten to death.
Now June girl, arn't you late for some blue screened movie with big explosions and flashy lights to sustain your obviously short attention span?

Maybe Ryan is right: maybe I have been so spoilt by the single most tender and loving moment in all moviedom - Shelley Winters' death scene from the Poseidon Adventure - that I have failed to "open my heart" to Brokeback Mtn and thus cannot appreciate the film's ineffable wonderfulness. Or maybe it's just my preference for early John Waters and adolescent male action movies.

Whether sodomy is "disgusting", male or female, is a matter of personal taste. It's not my bag, but I don't begrudge anyone their kicks. It is, however, highly stigmatized and stereotyped in our culture. And this points up one of the disturbing elements in this movie that its gay enthusiasts seem to want to ignore.

Ennis may have sodomized his wife simply to remind him of Jack; however, Elna's lack of objection suggests it probably wasn't first time it happened. It is disturbing that the movie reinforces the stereotype that gay men are obsessed with anal sex, male preferably but female in a pinch. The idea is common that putatively hetero men who enjoy anal sex with their wives or girlfriends must have "gay tendencies."

The movie suggests an equation between homosexuality and sex-crazed violence - another common stereotype and one that Ryan curiously lends credence to by citing unamed fictional "psychology texts"! Ryan succinctly articulates the movie's message that gay men are driven to violent sexual encounters in order to "get off" under the lash of "raw, animal instinct" - what could be more homophobic???

The movie further reinforces the notion that homosexuality is inimical to family life as well as the old Hollywood convention that it inexorably leads to sadness, despair and untimely death.

So why is the movie so popular in gay circles? Two reasons come to mind -
1.) if the characters of Ennis and Jack were played by 300lbs fat kids with bad haircuts I daresay Ryan would have trouble "opening his heart" to the movie!

2.) It wasn't enough for Jack to get killed in a car crash, heart attack or stampeding bull, he had to be a victim of a hate crime. The overwrought backdrop of anti-gay violence transforms the characters into victims, apparently the only thing that makes someone heroic today, legitimating their pathetic lives and dishonesty whilst insisting that the viewer not "judge" them because of it. It also causes the Ryans of the world to ignore the sinister homophobic elements.

Brokeback Mtn lacks the humanity, subtlety and genuine depth that characterized the much maligned "Making Love" - a film whose characters experienced grief and loss, but who were able to build new lives for themselves in a spirit of honest integrity.

But of course won't satisfy anyone whose idea of social progress is founded on an obessesion with one's own victimization, real or imagined.

I just have one question for everyone: why must a film's story be "universal?" Can't a story just be for its own sake? Would you shoot down "Gandhi" or "Casablanca" because they are not universal enough??

What a rediculous review- too laughable to take seriously and not worthy of debate.

I will say, to Tom Stevens
Don't speak of things you obviously know nothing about. This film isn't just popular in gay circles, pal, take a look at the press and reviews - you seem to deperately dislike this movie to a point that is a little creepy, and you obviously have no gay freinds or family members. Same with June girl and all of her moronic "agenda" b.s. - as if there isn't an "agenda" behind the vitriol with which you both seem to adamantly hate this film. Really? a tragic film involving gay men compelled you both to spout off on a blog about the movie? Kinda weird, don't you think?

Neither one of you has a clue what you are talking about and you are both clearly homophobic. If there wasn't a reason at all to dislike this film, you would have found one - period.

Rediculous, indeed.

And creeeeeepy!

Dear Nick,
I must say that I agree with a lot of the points you have made about "Brokeback Mountain." I saw the film last night and overall, I was very disappointed. With all the hype and excitement about this film in that it was "revolutionary" and is one of the best love stories in cinema history, I was truly excited. But after viewing, I don't believe this film qualifies as one of the greatest love stories.

As you pointed out, I did not feel the love connection between Ennis and Jack. The film doesn't accurately portray WHY these two men fall in love except maybe a mere attraction but I don't see that as "great love." It's going beyond the physical that makes a great love story, in my opinion, and I don't think the film takes this next essential step.

Although I had my disappointments, I give credit to Ang Lee was bringing this type of film to the mainstream which is a bold risk. Ledger's performance was by far the best of the bunch but the film didn't give him or Jake enough to work with in developing their love. If the film portrayed why they became lovers more thoroughly, I think the tragic romance element would have been more effective for me.

Sue

I respect your opinion, but must disagree with your assertion that the film fails to show why these me fell in love.

Why does anyone fall in love?

For one thing, it's not as if they had what you would call a conventional courtship - these are macho ranch hands of the sixties. It's not like they had a series of dates at the drive-in and met the parents. Secondly, how do you convey WHY these men fall in love when they don't even know what it is that they are feeling? Whatever they are experiencing internally was utterly foriegn to them and it shows in their initial inability to even convey it.

Besides, the film is a study of subtley. Their initial attraction is obviously a physical one - a quick glance exchanged here and there - but I found many of their actions in the beginning of the film to be gently affectionate -Jack tending to Ennis's wound when he is attacked by the bear. Ennis trying to purchase soup for Jack when he complains about the food they have. Ennis jokingly teasing about Jack's harmonica. Also, keep in mind that these guys spent months together that first time - not just a day or two - and Ennis's reaction to their departure is heartbreaking in that the sense of loss he is experiencing is so overwhelming and unexplainable he feels the urge to vomit.

By the time they meet up again four years later and embrace in what results in a moment of total, unbridled passion, there is no question that they have not left one anothers hearts and minds for a second.

If that isn't love, I don't know what is.

Bravo, Susan! Who can possibly define "love" by the interests people share? Well, maybe someone who has never been in love. Love is almost always undefinable. If the movie failed in persuasively representing that love, it is the fault of the actors and director, not the screenwriters for providing some plausible "reason" for that love.

That said, the movie fails for the reason every single one of Ang Lee's movies fail: his ineffable politeness and reticence as a filmmmaker.

I won't actually see this film. I don't need to. No matter how much energy and effort is put into portraying gay sex as love, it's essentially dead sex. So, I don't need to experience that kind of death relationship on screen. I wonder if you've ever considered homosexual sex as just an inverted form of heterosexual sex. During the act, one person assumes the role of a male and the other a female, always. I find it very interesting that the word "gay" is associated with the homosexual community. It's another one of the contradictions about the nature of the homosexual act and it's surrounding behavior. Because homosexual sex can never truly satisfy or fulfill, one understands the multitude of partners, the compulsive nature underlying its behavior and the general sadness associated with so many homosexual relationships. This is why so many homosexuals are obsessively driven in their work, their hobbies, their homes and their political focus. Because sex is designed to be procreative and lifegiving, just as relationships are, homosexual sex is unfulfilling. Though not every sexual encounter between a man and a woman will bring about life, the openness to its possibility is what makes sexual relations their most meaningful and, as a result, something which should be confined within a marriage relationship. When sex is supposed to be fulfilling and it isn't, when it's supposed to be procreative and isn't, it becomes a fixation, an obsession. This is why it's the focal point of the homosexual agenda. It's not about relationships at all. It's about the act itself and the attempt to make something meaningful out of something wholly not. Now the act is being forced on the general public as normal and acceptable. If it were normal and acceptable, it wouldn't be so repuslive to so many people like myself. It disturbs us physically, intellectually and spiritually.

As I watched the trailer, I couldn't help thinking of the real victims here - the children. Likely their lives, as portrayed in the film, are largely superfluous, like so many children's lives in our society. As long as they're kept busy and distanced from the damaged adults in charge of parenting them, their needs are seen as being met. The parents, in turn, work hard to avoid dealing with their own messed up lives, leaving them incapable of committing their energy into a real relationship and experiencing a truly joyful life. But you see, it's easier to fixate on one's genitalia then it is to give selfless love to these most important and fragile members of humanity. Anyway, I'm one person who's sick and tired of being told that homosexuality is normal or happy. One day, someone will come along, hopefully a child like the one in the Emporer's New Clothes, and point out more dramatically than I, the truth about this perversion. I'm all for upholding the dignity of human beings, as long as the acts involving people are dignfied and give dignity to the persons to whom those actions are directed.

Sincerely, Neil Hudec
Camrose, Alberta, Canada

Neil, there is no dancing around the fact that you are basing your twisted veiwpoint on two things very key elements - 1) sexual activity that has nothing to do with the universal themes of this film and 2) a film that you haven't seen - so before you come here and talk about things you don't need to see, you should kinda see them first, eh?

Your veiwpoints are already very sad in the fact that you have an obvious agenda against gay people that has been taught to to you and is rooted in utter ignorance - but the fact that you are commenting on a film you have not seen and basing your thoughts on a movie trailer and not the actual film itself are not only absurd, but render your opinions irrelivant.

Personally, I cannot fathom how anyone can see this film and not at be moved by it's universal themes of loss and longin - or at the very least, acknowledge these men and their humanity - but I suppose it is that very thing that scares the detractors of Brokeback Mountain the most - and that is the saddest of all.

Well, I thought I could just allow this conversation to blossom on its own, but wow, Neil, that's some post. Commenting on a film you haven't seen is bad enough; holding such views, however, is another thing entirely. You are, of course, entitled to think whatever you like. But I've got to say I find your opinions offensive and depressing.

Kev - I agree with what you're saying (in your last post), but I'd strongly caution against lumping every Brokeback Mountain detractor in with Neil and those who agree with him. Some people - such as myself - simply didn't like the film. It doesn't mean that we're all scared of acknowledging gay men's basic humanity.

Hi Nick, let me make clear that I certainly do not lump anyone who dislikes this film into a category. Sure, it had a strong effect on me personally - but film is an art form just like any other and open to criticism and varied opinions.

What do I find offensive are the detractors of this film, like Neil from Canada - who not only object to it's very exhistence without having seen it - but who are obviously threatened by the notion of a homosexual relationship that is humanized in any way that may be veiwed as sympathetic or real. It is this rationale that, to borrow your words, I find offensive and depressing. There is nothing in this film that comes close to the sadness of Neil's post.

Kev - Couldn't agree with you more.

Just wanted to say, I'm gay, I'm very happy, I enjoyed the film ... it spoke to me, and I did believe these men loved each other deeply. They were perhaps not able to declare their love, but their actions said enough to me.

I thought Heath Ledger did an excellent job and is deserving of a best actor nomination. I also enjoyed the Canadian scenery. The movie, however, was disappointing to me overall and I became bored about halfway through the film.

Man, what a bunch of ignorant comments.

First, June Girl: This was 1963. AIDS didn't exist until 1983. Second, Tom: There wasn't an "openly-gay" mayor of Caspar, Wyoming in 1963 - or anywhere else. You folks should really read some history books at some point. Gay people were arrested in those days for going to gay bars - or simply for engaging in consensual gay sex, which was illegal in most of the country. (It was only three years ago that this ceased to be the case in 17 states, in fact.)

"Libertarianism" was only a twinkle in Milton Friedman's eye, too, BTW. What happened in this movie was reality for gay people.

It was a good movie; too bad you folks are too self-absorbed to realize it.

I've been up all night reading French and Italian criticism of BM on the Web: Generally, the French are knocked off their pins (boulverse', epoustoufle') by it; most mention its awesome "formal beauty," and say it haunts them days and weeks after they've seen it. Male and female, gay and straight, old and young, the consensus among the French seems to be that it's so touching and beautiful a love story that it simply doesn't matter what gender the protagonists are. I'd say about half of the Italian revues agree with the French, and a quarter or less tend toward Neil-from-Canada's unreflectingly heterosexual bigotry--though their expression is at once more outrightly vulgar and much better humored than Neil's; with not a few wondering why Ennis and Jack have sex together when they could be having sex with the sheep. As for my own views, I'm with the refined and perceptive French, but I find the vulgar Italians irresistibly funny.

The movie did nto take my breathe away as I thought it would and the opening scenes were too drawn out.I also feelo the characters were not developed as well as they could have been. Other than that this movie has a really strong emotional pull because of how the cowboys forbidden romance affected not just them but so many others. People should feel lonely and isolated when watching this film.When i finished the movie at first I thought it wasnt that good but a day later I still cant shake the lonely desperation I feel for all of the characters(esp. Michelle Williams character)It has left unresolved feelings for the characters and its audience.

I just happened on this discussion and read through it with growing unease. What the hell are you people talking about? Brokeback Mountain is arguably the single finest, most emotionally draining and beautifully sad film I have ever seen. The dialogue is a marvel; nothing like it before in its minimalist ability to say so much. Ledger, Williams and Gyllanhaal are stunning, acting far beyond the abilities any of them have ever shown us before. And the movie has caused me to look back with ruth at my own long life and the choices made I lived to regret. I am a 68 year old heterosexual, by the way, and admit to a few "ewwww" moments in the film but am so very very pleased I took the opportunity to see it. I have now purchased the DVD and will treasure it as the classic film it surely will come to be.

Having seen "Brokeback Mountain" now three times (twice in the theater and once on DVD) I come away convinced that it is a socially significant event for Hollywood and America in general, not because it chose to portray the doomed love affair between two men in 60's Wyoming but because it so successfully and poignantly charts the anatomy of the destructive and pernicious effects of internalized homophobia; a disease that contributes signficantly to the collateral damage of many of the supporting characters. The fact that so many gay people of a certain generation (and a good many today) are taught to think of themselves as "different", "inferior", "damaged", "sick", "predatory" and otherwise without value is summed up neatly in Heath Ledger's agaonizing portrait of a man at war with himself.

The fact that most reviewers (with the exception of Roy Grundmann's brilliant analysis in the 31st edition of "Cineaste" magazine) failed to address what I believe to be the most painful aspect of this pathbreaking film (instead choosing to tear the film apart for it's Hollywood narrative structure and conventional picaresque photography) reveals the extent to which most in our culture choose to ignore the way in which society's attitudes are internalized at a very young age by children who may have homosexual inclination. This is given a brief but narratively significant nod when as a child, Ennis is shown the dead body of a man who was homosexual and his father clearly implies this is punishment for said status. This is refracted years later through the lense of Ennis's imagination when he is told of Jack's death and imagines a violent death at the hands of a three thugs who beat him mercillously. The fact that Ennis would "imagine" this horror shows the extent of his internal damage; a damage that is self inflicted through the course of the narrative by his refusal to let anyone, male or female, have access to his heart.

In this respect Ennis has much in common with Robert DeNiro's Jake LaMotta in Scorcese's "Raging Bull", a man who punishes himself for his "behavior" of which he understands so little. Signifcantly, both characters are shown pounding a concrete wall with their fists and screaming in agony. It is this agony that is both the heart and the "heartbreak" of "Brokeback Mountain".

While others posture on the ideological divide, the issues that painfully affect gay people who deny their right to love are conveniently and unwisely ignored.

Neil Hudec's ignorant musings from atop Mt. Sinai in Canada only go to show how far "nice people" like him have to go in their own spiritual evolution. And on that note I'll quote Christ's reputed last remarks: "Forgive them father, for they know not what they do".

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