About the movie:
Stuff that isn't so:
Movie reviewers typically describe the lead actors as:
Cowboys. However, cowboys generally herd cattle. This movie is primarily
about two sheep herders.
Homosexuals: However, both characters are portrayed as married, sexually
attracted to each other and to their wives. They both are portrayed as
having a bisexual orientation. The
actors are actually heterosexual in orientation and behavior in real life.
The movie was mainly photographed in Alberta, Canada. However, it portrays
From three synopses of the movie:
||Fr. Tom Condon, OP, student master for St. Martin de Porres Province of the Dominicans, a Roman
Catholic order, writes:
"Two sheep-tending cowboys in 1960s Wyoming find themselves unexpectedly falling in love and suffering the heartbreaking consequences,
keeping their relationship a secret for 20 years." 1
"Two young cowboys in the 1960s develop a strong bond that turns to love
over the course of a summer in the Wyoming mountains. As they share herding
duties in an isolated setting, Ennis and Jack find themselves drawn into a
relationship--made impossible by the time and circumstances in which they
live--that will color the rest of their lives." 2
LifeSiteNews, a conservative Roman Catholic advocacy group views the
film differently. They see it as a:
"...propaganda-laden film...Brokeback Mountain works hard to seduce
the watcher into sympathy for the 'love' between the hardened but
sensitive cowhands, but in fact it is a weighty pitch for legitimizing
homosexuality that carefully avoids the raunchier aspects of the
original story by Annie Proulx. In her account the men develop a sexual
'taste' for each other that never carries with it such emotional baggage
as the movie would like us to believe?sex between the cowboys begins out
of boredom and isolation and continues as a sort of physical addiction
which they feed on a periodic basis." 3
Brokeback Mountain centers on a gay
relationship that could not be allowed to exist in Wyoming during the
1960s. The locale may have been chosen as an allusion to Matthew
Sheppard's crucifixion during a gay bashing in 1998. The two lead
characters, Ennis and Jack, later married women and were only able to be
with each other during the occasional "fishing" trip. Ennis was haunted
by a memory of his father taking him to see the corpse of a gay man who
had been castrated during a gay bashing and abandoned in the field to
die. Jack wanted them to settle down together in spite of the danger. He
later dies in a gay bashing attack. Tom Condon sums up the movie well
when he writes:
"A culture of fear, repression, and
dishonesty hinder all the characters as they try to connect with
each other. I highly recommend Brokeback Mountain. It
touches on many different levels. It is an engrossing story, a plea
for tolerance, and a sad, emotional film that will touch anyone who
has ever been in love." 1
||Fr. Tom Condon, OP, student master for St.
Martin de Porres Province of the Dominicans, a Roman Catholic order, writes:
"What sets this one apart is that it
seeks to bring a serious portrayal of a homosexual relationship to a
mainstream audience. Usually gay characters are either eccentric
celebrities (Capote) or secondary characters (The Family Stone). In
Brokeback Mountain, director Ang Lee (Sense and Sensibility) and
screenwriters Larry McMurtry (Terms of Endearment, Lonesome Dove) and
Diana Ossana bring Annie Proulx?s story of Wyoming sheepherders to life.
Young Ennis and Jack, looking for employment in the summer of 1963, find
themselves herding sheep on the rugged, lonely mountains. They find
themselves sharing a sleeping bag one cold night, and have sex. They
fall in love, but part ways at the end of the summer. After a two year
absence, they begin meeting each other for fishing trips (in which no
fish ever get caught) for 20 years.....When
Jack and Ennis meet for the first time in two years, they cannot control
the emotions they have controlled for so long. It?s a beautiful and
startling moment.... 1
A 2 minute, 15 second preview is available free on
the Oscar web site. 2
Awards and ratings:
Brokeback Mountain received best picture awards from the
Golden Globes (drama), Broadcast Film Critics Association and New
York Film Critics Circle. It also received eight Academy Award?
nominations -- two more than any
other 2005 movie:
||Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.
||Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role.
||Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role.
||Achievement in Cinematography.
||Achievement in Directing.
||Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures. (Original Score)
||Best Motion Picture of the Year.
Director Ang Lee was surprised by the awards and nominations. He told
Reuters: "I thought it was a small work of love. I never thought it would
play like this." 7
The winners were announced at the 78th annual Academy Awards on Sunday,
2006-MAR-05. ABC covered the presentations. Brokeback Mountain was
expected to sweep the major awards, but received only three. Ang Lee won
achievement in directing. The movie won for best adapted screenplay and
achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score).
Crash was selected as best picture. 8
An informal poll by CNN of the visitors to their
website showed that 45% felt that Brokeback Mountain should have won the
best picture award; 32% selected Crash and 10% picked Good Night and
Good Luck. 8
Subscribers to IMDb, the "Earth's biggest movie database" gave
Brokeback Mountain a weighted average rating of 8.0 out of 10 as of 2006-FEB-08. 73% of the
subscribers gave it
the highest ratings of 9 or 10; 9% gave it the lowest rating of 1. The movie
rated highest with females aged 18 to 29, and lowest among males aged 45 and
Release date: 2005-DEC to theatres; 2006-APR-04 on DVD.
The DVD release will occur before the theatre run is completed. This is a rare
overlap, which has happened because the movie release has been extended.
||US: "R" because of sexuality, nudity, language and some violence.
Distributor: Focus Features
Length: 134 minutes.
Director: Ang Lee
Screenwriter: Larry McMurtry
Source: A short story by E. Annie Proulx
Anachronisms and goofs:
||Near the beginning of the film, a train with no caboose passes. The film
was supposed to portray Wyoming in 1963. But cabooses (cabeese, cabin cars)
were required by law on all freight trains before the 1980s.
During a dance sequence, a jukebox is playing "The Devil's Right Hand"
by Steve Earle. The scene in the movie was supposed to represent activity in
the late 70s. The song was only released in 1988.
There are a surprising number of continuity errors in the movie: a bottle of
whisky that miraculously refills itself, a piece of pie that reconstructs
itself, etc. 5
Some comments by reviewers and others:
||Fr. Tom Condon, OP comments:
Watching Brokeback Mountain, I?m aware that, in some
ways we?ve come a long way as a society. But we still have a long way to
go. We openly discuss issues relating to gay marriage and the ordination
of homosexuals. Yet there is still much misunderstanding, prejudice, and
fear. Several critics have wondered whether a straight audience would go
to see gay cowboys. But, so far, in limited release, the movie is doing
well, drawing a mixed audience. Brokeback Mountain
is an exploration of the mystery of the depths of human sexuality and
relationship. The bleakness of its open spaces highlights the loneliness
and alienation that touch not only Jack and Ennis, but also their wives
and children. A culture of fear, repression, and dishonesty hinder all
the characters as they try to connect with each other. I highly
recommend Brokeback Mountain. It touches on many different levels. It is
an engrossing story, a plea for tolerance, and a sad, emotional film
that will touch anyone who has ever been in love. 1
||Ted Behr of MovieGuide, a conservative Christian media
ministry writes that the movie uses:
"about 58 obscenities (including many "f" words), 15
strong profanities, ?references to urinating; two extreme scenes of
bloody violence include shot of castrated man and man's head is beaten
bloody until he is dead, and scenes of violence where men fight and
wrestle in a rough way, and homosexual sodomy scene plays almost like a
homosexual rape; very strong sexual content includes depicted homosexual
and heterosexual sodomy (with a hint of sadomasochism during one or more
homosexual scenes), depicted homosexual kissing and groping?etc." 6
The reference to urination was apparently a mention by one of the lead
characters that the inside of their tent smelled of cat urine. The reference
to castration and bloody head apparently refers to a
flashback in the movie to an earlier incident of gay bashing witnessed
by one of the lead characters. After having seen the movie, this reviewer was
unable to recall any scenes hinting at sadomasochism.
Banned in the Bahamas:
The Bahamas Christian Council took a dim view of the Brokeback
Mountain movie and was able to persuade the Plays and Films Board of
the Bahamas to ban public showings. Theatre director Phillip Burrows said: "I
cannot understand denying people the right to make their own choices." This
is the latest in a series of homophobic acts in the island chain, including:
||2005: Miss Teen Bahamas was stripped of her title after she admitted
being a lesbian.
2004: A protest organized by Christian groups against the Norwegian
Dawn cruise ship which had carried 1,600 homosexual passengers to the
1998: A mob chased lesbian couples from Bay Street, Nassau's main
shopping thoroughfare. 9
Movie promoted by Wal-Mart:
The American Family Association (AFA), a Fundamentalist Christian
group, asked Wal-Mart to boycott the sale of the Brokeback Mountain movie,
winner of three Academy awards. Randy Sharp, director of special projects for
the AFA, said:
"It wasn't even a blockbuster movie, so if Wal-Mart isn't trying to push
an agenda, why would they put it at the front door?"
Kevin Haff of the Washington Blade, a gay-positive group, said:
"Actually, Randy, 'Brokeback' has made more than $165 million worldwide
on a production budget of just $14 million. If that ain?t a blockbuster, I
don?t know what is. And that number doesn?t include DVD sales, which will no
doubt be tremendous." 10
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Tom Condon, "Brokeback Mountain," Faith and Film, at:
"Nominees: Brokeback Mountain," Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
"User ratings for Brokeback Mountain," IMDb, at:
"Goofs for Brokeback Mountain: 2005," IMDb, at:
MovieGuide's review is at:
http://www.movieguide.org/ It appears to require an annual $40.00
subscription to access.
Todd Leopold, " 'Mountain' looms over Oscar nominations. 'Crash'
earns six; Clooney picks up three," CNN, 2006-MAR-05, at:
"Academy Award Nominees," CNN.com, 2006-MAR-05, at:
John Marquis, "Brokeback Mountain banned in the Bahamas," Reuters News Agency, 2006-APR-04.
Kevin Haff, "Kudos to Wal-Mart. Mega-retailer stands up to religious right, stocks 'Brokeback',"
Washington Blade, 2006-APR-05, at:
Copyright © 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2006-FEB-08
Latest update: 2006-APR-05
Author: B.A. Robinson