Brokeback Mountain qualifies among the most controversial movies produced in 2005. Its analysis has been done from a political, social and moral point of view and has been a subject of criticism by political experts, the audience who have branded it as unacceptable because it will corrupt the morals of the society, since its initial release due its theme which is homosexuality.
The title of the film is called Brokeback Mountain which was released initially on September 3, 2005 in USA (United States of America). The DVD was later released on April 4, 2006.The movie was directed by Ang Lee. The film featured the song was “A Love That Will Never Grow Old” by Bernie Taupin and Gustavo Santaolalla. The four major characters and the actors that play them in the film are; Jake Gyllenhaal as Jack Twist, Heath Ledger as Ennis Del Mar, Anne Hathaway as Lureen Newsome and Michelle Williams as Alma. According to Needham (2008), “The film was awarded accolades by the following organizations; Satelite Awards presented the movie with accolades in the category of best film, best director,and best orginal song.” Golden Globe awards presented the movie with accolades in the category of best director, best motion picture, best screen play, best original song. Academy Awards presented the movie with accolades in the category of best director, best adapted screen play, best original score. BAFTA Awards presented the movie with accolades in the category of the best actor in a supporting role, best director and the best movie among many others.
This was the most awarded film than any other that was produced in 2005 among many other festivals and organisations. The movie was nominated for a total of 8 Academy awards which was the highest number at the 78th academy awards. For this award it won the best adapted screenplay, best director and the best original score. Most of the organisations awarded the Ang Lee as the best director.
I chose this film for the assignment because it was one of the most controversial movies produced in 2005 and yet it was the most awarded in 78th academy awards. It has a political, social and moral point of view which is a good basis of research study.
The BrokeBack Mountain is a romantic story is about two young men a rodeo cowboy and a Wyoming who meet during summer while herding sheep in the harsh grasslands and form unacceptable relationship which in the end turns conflicted and bitter.
“In 1963, Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar are employed by Joe Aguirre to look after his sheep during the summer season in Wyoming. Jack makes sexual passes at Ennis after a night of drinking heavily. Ennis is at first apprehensive but finally falls to his advances. What happens as a one-time incident ends up developing into an emotional and sexual relationship. Their summer is cut short and they get involved in a bloody fight. The two soon part ways and Ennis gets married to his long-time girlfriend Alma Beers and they bear two children. Jack returns to Wyoming in the summer but Joe Aguirre who witnessed their relationship on the mountain decides not to hire him again. Jack marries Lureen Newsome and start a family together. Jack and Ennis still continue to meet for the fishing trips. Both their marriages deteriorate and they decide to eventually get divorced. Jack and Ennis continue to have disagreements until they part ways and Jack decides to find happiness in Mexico with male prostitutes. After sometime Ennis receives a postcard he had sent Jack stamped “deceased” . Lureen explains to Ennis in a telephone conversation that Jack died after a tire he was changing exploded. This is when Lureen tells Ennis that he wanted his ashes to be scattered on Brokeback Mountain” (Lee, 2005).
Ennis daughter Alma Jr. who is 19 years old asks for his fathers blessing and invites him to her wedding. He asks if she loves her fiancée and she answers in the affirmative. After Alma leaves Ennis fastens Jacks shirt, and with teary eyes he mutters, “Jack, I swear” before he walks way.
Identification and causes of the social problems
Some of the social problems noted in the movie where homosexuality, bloody fights, murder and divorce and the people who caused it are outlined as follows (Needham, 2008);
- Homosexuality-homosexuality was featured in the film when Ennis and Jack are witnessed by Aguirre on the mountain which made Jack not to be re-hired at Wyoming. In another incidence Jack visits Ennis over four years and they kiss passionately which Alma, Ennis wife accidentally witnesses. They both still continue to meet for the fishing trips.
- Bloody fights- Ennis and Jack visit to Wyoming in the summer is cut short after they engage in a bloody fight.
- Murder-Ennis has a childhood memory that haunts him where he witnessed a man who was tortured and murdered because he was suspected to be of homosexual behaviour.
- Divorce- after the marriage of both Ennis and Jack deteriorates, Ennis and Alma decide to eventually divorce. Jack moves to Mexico and separates with his wife Lureen.
Some people have criticised and condemned the movie for trying to portray homosexuality as normal while others have embraced the film positively for embracing the modern society. Political experts such as Cal Thomas, Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson blamed Hollywood for encouraging a homosexual agenda with the movie. Some critics voiced their concerns about the exposure of a homosexuality theme, portrayed in the film in public events such as award ceremonies and press conferences. The film began to face a burnout and the sales started to fall drastically. It soon became a source of mockery on Fox News Radio after months after its release. “In 2008 one of the main actors Heath Ledger died as a result of a drug overdose and Gibson of Fox News Radio was criticised after mocking the deceased for hours after news of his death broke out” (Hueglin, 2008).
The harm caused by the social problem which is homosexuality, is that the audience sees gay men as the key characters instead of the cliché assistants’ roles in the movie. The clergy men and the community believe that it is inappropriate and abnormal for two people of the same sex to be in a relationship. After the two minute clip two men kissing some people chose to stay while others decided to leave the theatre. Films can envision a social change in the society. The film inspired social hopes among individuals on homosexuality and bisexuality. The harm caused by such films is, films can change the way individuals think and perceive life. Movies can cause a great social problem in the society such as when it comes to solving problems. The film might be an individual’s first exposure thus raising awareness that such a problem exists. The more policies the film has on the community the more the individuals are likely to change on social practises. The social problems are recognised by the human rights movements since they state that everyone has a right of expression regardless of their sexual bias. The community does not recognise the social problem because they would rather live in denial than accept the reality of homosexuality and bisexuality in the society.
This movie has been listed as one of the most controversial movies produced in 2005. The movie discorages homosexual relationships because it takes the following steps to solve the social problem;
- It shows the gay characters getting married and having relationships and families with the female partners even though they end up in divorce.. This means that even though the movie features gay relationships they also try to discourage them by showing that the men have families.
- Joe Aguirre denies Jack employment in Wyoming because he witnessed Jack and Ennis relationship on the mountain. This shows that the society is yet to fully embrace homosexuality and tries to solve the social problem by denying some rights for example their unions are not recognised and any public display of affection leads to a backlash from the society where we see Joe Aguirre denying Jack employment.
The solutions offered are not effective because we still see that Jack and Ennis used to go for fishing together and when Ennis died, Jack mourned his partner and fulfilled his partners wish that his remains should be scattered on Brokeback Mountain. Jack also kept and wore the shirt which was blood stained after they fought with Ennis in Wyoming. The solution offered in class is not workable because the main characters are gay and they still remain partners until the death of one of the men.
Point of view
The moral point of the film is that, even though the main characters are portrayed as flawed, their wives and children come out strongly as the real heroes. The film shows one of the characters wives plight after she accidentally discovers that the husband is a homosexual. The director is trying to convince the audience that the film does not prefer homosexual relationships because it exposes both Jack and Ennis struggling. For example the negative reaction when their employer realised they were homosexuals. One of the characters Ennis dies through an accident even though Jack does not seem to believe that version of the story.
“In the political point of view political experts such as Cal Thomas, Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson blamed Hollywood for encouraging a homosexual agenda with the movie” (Hueglin, 2008). In the social point of view some critics voiced their concerns about the exposure of a homosexuality theme, portrayed in the film in public events such as award ceremonies and press conferences.
The movie’s theme has tried to move away from stereotypes and convey how randomness love can be powerful. This was a welcome change especially to the gay people in America and other cities.
Relevance of the film
The film serves to explain to the audience beliefs about queerness, sexuality and masculinity. There is a distinction between the two homosexual men where Ennis displays more feminine characteristics than his partner Jack in their relationship. In Marxist view of theory the film can be depicted as a characteristic of social theory which is supposed to produce a dominant ideology. Cultural texts are expected to encourage straight relationships and in contrast the film theme of homosexuality causes sexuality destabilizing gender identity on the audience. Bisexuality is referred as being queer by the community because it is believed one can either be gay or straight. In this movie it shows that the characters Jack and Ennis are bisexual thus bringing the queer factor in the film. “The issue of homosexuality has been discussed across continents with some of the countries choosing to recognise homosexuality while others are yet to recognise it” (Eitzen, Zinn, & Smith, 2011).
Eitzen, D. S., Zinn, M. B., & Smith, K. E. (2011). Social problems (12th Ed.). Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.
Hueglin, T. O. (2008). A political economy of federalism: in search of a new comparative perspective with critical intent throughout. Kingston, Ont., Canada: Institute of
Intergovernmental Relations, Queen's University.
Lee, A. (Director). (2005). Brokeback Mountain [Motion picture]. United States of America:
Needham, G. (2008). Brokeback mountain. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press.