Movie Critique

In Brokeback Mountain Jack Twist played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Ennis Del Mar played by Heath Ledger meet as they take on the job of sheepherding in Wyoming at Brokeback Mountain.  Their relationship forms as they attempt to bring the entire group of sheep home alive.  Jack goes up to the top of the mountain to stay with the sheep as Ennis is continually cooking at a tent set up at the bottom of the mountain.  Jack comes down to eat and goes back up continually and eventually they trade positions.  The men converse over their personal lives while in the mountain.  Ennis explains his family life and his relationship with his father to Jack (which is the most that Ennis has said to Jack let alone to anyone in a while).

One night after drinking a good amount of liquor Ennis does not go back up to stay with the sheep and sleeps outside of the tent that Jack is in and begins to shiver from the cold at night.  Jack invites him into the tent because he cares about his health and their intimate relationship begins to unfold.  They have sexual intercourse that night.  Ennis wakes and goes back up to the top of the mountain the next day and is non-responsive to Jack before he leaves showing that he is upset with himself for what happened.  They discuss what occurred and Ennis says “I ain’t not queer” and Jack responds “Me neither”.

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They kiss and cuddle again and also portray playful flirtatious actions at the same time they throw punches at each other and yet again make up.  Their sheep have made it home and they leave Brokeback Mountain as two separate men.  They both decide to marry and have children and four years later get in contact with each other.  Jack shows up at Ennis’s house and Ennis’s wife sees them kissing threw the window yet she does not say a word and the men head up to the mountain to “fish” for a few days as his wife balls her eyes out because of what she just saw.  Ennis explains to Jack how his father made him and his brother see this gay man dead with his penis pulled off because he was disapproved by the people of the town he says that “Two guys living together – no way.” So they realize they can’t be together and they both have something to go back to at Brokeback Mountain still.

They continue to meet each month and Ennis and his wife end up divorcing.  Jack finds out and faces Ennis about it and Ennis rejects to spend time with Jack because he has his children that weekend for the one time of the month that he is allowed to see them.  Jack leaves very heartbroken and travels to Mexico where he pays a male prostitute to have sex with him.  Thanksgiving roles around and Jack turns off the TV on his son because he won’t eat his food and his father in-law turns it back on and says that “you want your boy to grow up like a man don’t you darling? Boys should watch football”.  Jack turns it back off and curses at his father in-law for disrespecting him in his house.

Ennis spends Thanksgiving with his ex-wife and kids and she ends up facing him about why he continually goes up to Brokeback Mountain and that she knows that he is not fishing there.  Ennis loses his temper and leaves.  After trying to create a relationship with another girl Cassie, Ennis heads back to the mountain as Jack explains how he misses him so much and he can’t stand it.  Ennis explains that he is unable to meet Jack back at the mountain on their scheduled time and so Jack gets mad and Ennis reacts to him by saying his he should be ashamed of himself for going to Mexico for his needs.  Jack explains that they could have had a good life but all they have is Brokeback Mountain so he shouldn’t be mad for getting something that he never does from someone in Mexico.  Jack wishes he knew how to “quit him” and Ennis says that it is because of him that he is the way his is as they cry together.

They leave the mountain once again and Ennis receives a post card returned to him that he sent to Jack.  He calls Jack’s wife and finds out that Jack has died.  Jack’s wife explains that he was fixing and tire on the road as it exploded into him knocking him out and dying from droning in his own blood.  At this moment he is envisioning Jack getting beat up by men shunning him for being gay as his cause of death.  Ennis travels to Jack’s parents house and they tell him that Jack planned to leave his wife one day and come home and build a cabin with Ennis and fix their ranch up.  Jack’s father will not let Jack’s wish be granted by letting him take his ashes to Brokeback Mountain, but allows him to take the shirts that he was wearing when he died.  Ennis continues to live alone and at the end of the film his daughter drives to his house and explains that she is getting married and leaves.  She leaves her sweater there and Ennis puts it up in his closet to once again come across Jack’s shirts that he has hung and says “Jack I swear” to conclude the film.

This film is trying to portray the lives of two homosexual men who are faced with the fear of being homosexual themselves.  They have both covered their true identity by means of getting married and having children.  This film is also in attempt to create awareness to its audience that the love that these men have for one another is just the same as the love that men and woman have for each other if not portrayed even stronger than that.  This film has successfully accomplished these two different ideas to its audience.  This movie is an interpellation of what society has linguistically created to be the norm of relationships.  We continually see the denial of love between homosexual couples because they are afraid of society and what their family will think of them.  In this film Ennis and Jack have also taken themselves away from society so people can’t see their love for each other and are very destroyed from it.  Yet at the same time Ennis’s wife is also trapping herself in denial because she for years does not tell Ennis that she knows that he is in love with Jack.

This film exemplifies Aristotle’s ideas of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.  The ethos that Aristotle describes involves the character of the speaker as a tool for persuasion to an audience.  Pathos being the emotional side of each character and logos deals with having logic or reasoning behind the act of persuasion.  I feel that both Jack and Ennis have persuaded the audience with the use of all three of these elements.  The act of persuasion in this film is to help an audience embarrass the idea that homosexuality is hidden from society as well as from the performers.  These men had to use their logical reasoning to live both words at the same time by traveling to the mountain each month.  There was very evident emotion behind their homosexuality and this was shown through tears and physically affection.  Yet they both knew that they would be shunned if they acted this way in the setting of people that they lived around in town or at home.  There were many things that brought the character of homosexuality out, the ethos, in Jack and Ennis for instance when one would take on the feminine role of cooking or when Ennis used the sense of smell as his remembrance of Jack much like a lady would do.

This film has also shown the use of dramatism by Kenneth Burke.  This concept involves the social use of language.  The five different stages of this idea are that there is an act, scene, agent, agency, and purpose.  We have clearly identified the use of acting homosexual from these two actors, in the scene of a far away mountain, who have performed the act of sex as men, their bodies being the tool for this, and finally the motivation is the be happy and accepted.

This way of performing sexuality is completely different from my own performance of sexuality.  Sexuality can be performed any way that the individual desires whether it be with the same sex or someone who is a prostitute like in this film.  Love and happiness are to be accepted throughout society based off sexual feelings alone.  These men hid themselves away from everyone seeing them perform their sexuality as well as performed the sexuality that they did not desire by marrying women.  This combination of two different worlds is its own way of performing sexuality.  This film has affected the way that I perform my own sexuality in no way because I do not connect two different types of life styles nor do I intend to hide my feelings.  The only way that I connect with this is the mere fact that I do not perform the act of sex in the public just like these two men.

I suggest that others should see this film and especially those (i.e. men) who turned this film off as soon as they “couldn’t take any more” due to the erotic within these men.  There is a deeper story behind homosexuality being presented.  To me this message is that loving and being loved is something that can be destroyed if not revealed to the world. I personally am driven off the affection that occurs in the public setting.  It makes me feel special and noticed and it is when I am denied that affection that I don’t feel loved and I feel like I am hiding my emotion.  Sexuality is, whether hetero or homo, a form of expression that needs to be performed and not judged.  I feel that if someone who was a “homophobic” person watched this film and really looked into the messages shown they could realize that love is love and they should place themselves in their shoes.  If they were denied to love someone they would be just as hurt at these two men have been.

Reference

Schamus, J. (Producer), & Lee, A. (Director). (2005). Brokeback Mountain [Motion picture].  Ennis Films, River Road Entertainment, & Focus Features.

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