It’s summer in Wyoming in 1963. Two young men are hired as ranch hands to herd the sheep on Brokeback Mountain and bring them down to lowland pastures for the winter. Ennis Del Mar (played by Heath Ledger) is an experienced ranch hand and Jack Twist (by Jake Gyllenhaal) is enchanted by the “legend” of a cowboy lifestyle and is an aspiring rodeo bull rider. They start the job and head up into the mountains on what they expect to be an uneventful, quiet and lonely couple of months. But they soon recognize something in each other and strike up a familiar camaraderie. Over the weeks of the isolated trek, their friendship clumsily develops into a deep and confusing love. Presently, the summer and the job comes to an end and once down from the mountain, Ennis marries his fiance Alma (by Michelle Williams) and settles into married life, while Jack returns to the rodeo and marries Lureen (by Anne Hathaway). A few years later, Jack is restless and he reconnects with Ennis, which rekindles their relationship. Things are still strong between them and although it gets complicated and has its ups and downs, they stay in touch throughout their lives as their marriages change and their worlds intersect. Even though years have passed, their community still holds strong views and this demands that they constantly hide their true feelings from those around them. This enduring love continues though – until it reaches an inevitable and tragic conclusion.
The magnificent vistas of the Wyoming high country provide a jaw-droppingly consistently beautiful backdrop to this beautifully told story. The wonderful connection of these two souls, who both found meaningful, life-long companionship in the most unlikely place is universal. Take out the fact that it is two guys and just think about two people who find deep and enduring love – it’s a very moving tale. The performances are exquisite. Heath Ledger brings such depth to his role as Ennis – with his marvellous and curious speech and his unique mannerisms, he is terse – to say the least. He received a BAFTA for this performance. Contrasted with Jack Twist, the more sensitive, romantic and relationship-focussed of the two. Jake Gyllenhaal is fabulous in this role. Together, their chemistry, balance and complimentarity is sublime. This is a gritty, real story – the wives have tough lives with these two guys and both Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway should take a bow for their work here. Everything about these performances is good. Ang Lee is masterful at getting the best of the people, their dialogue, the surrounding landscape and the cinematography. Together this ensemble is outstanding. No surprise whatsoever then that at the 2006 Academy Awards (Oscars), the movie was awarded with Best Achievement in Directing, Writing (Adapted Screenplay), Music (Original Score) and Golden Globe awards for Best Motion Picture (Drama), Director, Screenplay and Original Song and also BAFTAs for Best Lead Actor, Supporting Actress (Michelle Williams), Cinematography and Editing. A fantastic effort and very well deserved by everyone involved. The movie screenplay was adapted from a short story “Brokeback Mountain” by E Annie Proulx.
Made in 2005. Directed by Ang Lee