Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain marked a breakthrough in American film history. Recognized for being ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’, the movie earned a place in the US National Film Registry. Despite facing some backlash from conservative groups upon its release, the film has undoubtedly become a timeless classic.
Based on Annie Proulx’s short story of the same name, the movie received 8 Oscar nominations and won for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Original Score. It defied the conventional masculine norms often portrayed in Clint Eastwood’s movies about the American West.
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What Made Brokeback Mountain Revolutionary?
Brokeback Mountain had a brilliant cast led by the late Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, who portrayed Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, respectively. The film explores the lives of two Wyoming cowboys who fall in love with each other but find themselves trapped in a world where pursuing their happiness is stopped by the fear of punishment. Set in the 1960s and 70s, the movie shed light on the prevailing homophobia and the perception of American cowboys as the embodiment of ‘Real American Men.’
While Annie Proulx, the story’s writer, initially didn’t envision a film adaptation, screenwriters Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana saw the potential and pursued the project. The challenge was to find a cast and crew willing to take the risk. Eventually, the project landed in the hands of Ang Lee.
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Brokeback Mountain Was A Career Gamble For Ang Lee
When the script of Brokeback Mountain came to him, the Taiwanese filmmaker was busy doing the Hulk. Nonetheless, he decided to take on the challenge of the romantic movie at the right moment, providing him with a fresh start after contemplating retirement following his father’s passing.
The film’s casting process saw various actors auditioning, but many showed little interest, believing that participating in such a movie would be a career suicide. Finally, the film found its perfect pairing in Ledger and Gyllenhaal. Ledger played the part to perfection and even took offense at people who made fun of the “I wish I knew how to quit you” moment in the movie.
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Brokeback Mountain serves as a poignant reminder of Ennis and Jack’s existence amid the celebrated masculinity of the American West. Relive this impactful 2005 movie now available on Netflix.
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