Right after watching a film for the first time, I typically don’t have a strong reaction to it, because I can’t really sort through the thoughts in my head and create a linear idea. This is exactly how I felt after watching Brokeback Mountain, perhaps even more so than usual – I just couldn’t really grasp what my own reaction was to what I had just seen on screen. So what I did was I took to imdb.com, in my mind one of the more reliable sources for popular/critical film evaluation, and I clicked on the first review I saw that gave the movie a 100. To paraphrase the article using its own words, it said this :
“Brokeback Mountain has been described as “a gay cowboy movie,” which is a cruel simplification. It is the story of a time and place where two men are forced to deny the only great passion either one will ever feel. Their tragedy is universal.”
We really touched on that first point in class, and lead a little bit into the second part. But it’s really an important idea to reiterate about this film that being gay isn’t necessarily the most important theme – It’s really a lot about passion and sacrifice, and the words “their tragedy is universal” speaks volumes to this. It might be hard to conceptualize Brokeback Mountain as a universal story, especially if your sexual identity doesn’t seem to match up with the characters. But I gather that one thing most people in the world deal with is the loss of passion at some level, whether it be a sexual passion or a completely different form – say music, sports, etc. There are many, many instances outside of sexual identity in which people feel trapped, false, abused or misunderstood, and I think Brokeback Mountain is one of the most heartfelt representations of this. There will always be times when we are forced to conform to something that we don’t draw joy from, while our hearts will long for something better, fiercer, and more full of life and feeling. Jack and Ennis happen to have a sexual attraction but it’s not the only thing that they’re missing – they’re missing a concept of free expression in their lives.