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if you can't fix it...


I still remember when I saw Brokeback Mountain for the first time. Nine of us went to the Cedar Lee theaters in Cleveland to see it. Back then, we had a tight, fun group of friends and we were all waiting for the movie to come out with literally bated breath. There was a huge buzz among my friends about this little movie that had a gay love story at its core. The Cedar Lee theaters  is an old-fashioned mini-multiplex that shows art movies in Cleveland. It's a quaint, small place that usually shows little gems that you cannot see anywhere else. 

We were a little taken back when we got there because we thought this little movie was going to be just a blip in people's radars but there was a long line at the theater. They always had some little-known European films and art house documentaries there and we figured some Oscar-worthy movie was showing. To our surprise it was our little movie the one that had the long line of people getting ready to go in. The theater was packed. There were people sitting everywhere and some were standing. I had never seen anything like that at the Cedar Lee. The thing is, the Cedar Lee does not have 500-seat stadium seating. These are little arthouse theaters that accommodate what, 100 people or less? It was a shock. It was still packed when we went back for a second viewing three weeks later. 

So we got out tickets and went in. The impact of watching two men fall in love in the big screen for the first time was something I was really not ready to witness. Neither were some of my friends, who were older than me. Representation, am I right? People today take so many things for granted, that movies like this kind of get shuffled in the streaming services without a second thought. It's been what, sixteen years? But I still bawl cry get emotional when I see it.  I can't help it. 

Some people think it's just one more tragic gay love story, but they kind of forget when it came out. It was pre-gay marriage, pre-all-gay-all-the-time Logo. Pre-many things that today are commonplace. It was also the first time that I had seen a full-length movie explore a gay relationship in such detail, with such care and attention to the characters. Even though the word 'gay' is never mentioned in the film and the men may appear to be bisexual, it's clear to me that this is a gay love story. They are only themselves when they're together. People forget that the movie starts in the sixties, when gay relationships (especially in Wyoming and Texas!) were not accepted and could -and can still- mean death. 

But it's not only the passion and sexual tension that is almost palpable during the movie what gets to me. It's not only the idea of many men being constrained by societal norms and heteronormativity.  It's also the intense secretiveness of the twenty-year long affair that makes me cry every time I watch it. You see, I've dated Ennis. I've been Jack. I have been kept a secret. I guess movies all affect us in different ways, but Brokeback Mountain always leaves me with a weird feeling of longing. Not for what I've done. But for what I didn't do. That last scene with the shirts always breaks me. Always. And I wonder: what if...?

Shit, I'm a mess today. I should know better than to watch Brokeback Mountain in the middle of the week.

XOXO



Comments

  1. I think that anyone who has seen that film (I have seen it in Italian AND in English) will never forget it. I remember that Annie Proulx author of the book from which the film is inspired, told Ang Lee that his film was better than the book she had written herself. Usually happens the opposite!

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    Replies
    1. I know, right?
      I think it stays with you because it's well done.I also read the short story and you may be right, the movie makes it more vivid.

      XOXO

      Delete
    2. sorry, but it's not me but Annie Proulx thinking the film is better than her book!

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    3. Annie has had a turbulent relationship with the fame her short story brought her...

      XOXO

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    4. The film brought her words to life. I've not heard that she's had issues with gaining notoriety because of it. I would think any author would be thrilled to have such care taken with their words (not to mention the $$.) XOXO

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    5. It's more about the interpretation the movie got. Some people thought she should have given them a happy ending, without taking into account where the characters were coming from. I'm sure she is fine with the money the movie adaptation brought. She did not did to be recognized, not after a Pulitzer...

      https://time.com/3648650/brokeback-mountain-annie-proulx/

      XOXO

      Delete
  2. STILL one of my most favourite gay movies! So heartbreakingly sad and tragic. A testament to all thwarted gay lives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love it.
      It makes me sad but I love it. It's also part of a period of my life when I was very happy, so....

      XOXO

      Delete
  3. I remember overhearing a woman as I left the theater with friends saying "I had no idea it was going to be so emotional." That says everything.

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely.
      I cried when I saw it the first time. Still do.

      XOXO

      Delete
  4. Annie Proulx's short story, "Brokeback Mountain," is quite the wonder to read. The characters are so well-drawn - with very, very little dialogue; most of it is only inferred. And, I will agree with her that Ang Lee produced a film that is much better than the short story. But what was it about the film that took it so mainstream? That won it Academy Award nominations and statues? That finds it a modern classic? What was it that drew Ang Lee to want to make the film?
    It's a classic love story. It's about two **people**, not about two gay men, or bisexual men falling in love. It's about the human condition. Look at the log line: "Love is a force of nature." But what takes it out of the norm, what makes it different, is that there is no happy ending. Yet, it's a beautiful film. A beautiful story. And based in reality. It happens to people of all stripes. Ennis and Jack could be anybody. XOXO

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    1. It is!
      I got it after I saw the movie (interest in the book spiked!) . It's very introspective (Ennis barely speaks) and Ang Lee translated all that. So glad he didn't retire and got to make the movie.
      And it humanized gay men. The characters had depth and you are right, it's about our need to feel loved by the one we love. The lack of a happy ending makes it a product of the time where it was set, but yes, Ennis and Jack could be anybody.

      XOXO

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  5. Is it horrible that I haven't watched it yet? I don't know what has kept me from watching it, as I have watched many other love stories that center around the gay community. I think I'm going to buy some wine, snacks and watch it this weekend.

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    1. Haha no it's not!
      I know some people who have never seen it. It's a good weekend movie. Wine and snacks sound great! Do it!

      XOXO

      Delete
  6. Bless you, child. You should watch whatever makes you feel anytime you can. I went twice. First with a group of four. We were all stunned and the movie theatre was packed and it was way out in the boonies, on the edge of Minneapolis... one of those huge boxes that hold tons of giant theatres. I was amazed by the care the director and actors took with the storyline. The women in the film ground it. Seeing this relationship from their POV was chilling. And the men... how romantic and lovely and yes, it fills one with a sense of longing. They shared an intimacy not many of us find in our day to day lives. Not even our primary relationships. Thanks for unearthing this one. The second time was with my ex best friend. We always shared iconic gay cinema moments together... he, of course, thought he WAS Jack... lol. But he was never that brave. It's brave, you know... to be authentically ourselves - to claim who we are. Not the easiest... but the alternative? Is like sitting with a plastic bag over your head. Kizzes.

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    Replies
    1. Well said, Upton!

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    2. I have seen that movie twice in theaters and have watched maybe four times. Never fails to move me.
      I agree with you: the actors are great. And the women in the film ground it because we see 'the other side' through their eyes. And I think longing is the best description for the emotion that the movie stirs.
      Jack was brave. To the end.

      XOXO

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  7. I saw it twice because the first time didn't sink in. I thought it was well done, but I don't recall getting emotional. I think because I was just hitting the gay scene, a relationship was furthest from my mind? While I still enjoy it, it still not one of my favorite gay films. Something about the Michelle Williams and Health Ledger characters bothered me. While well done, I think I'm just not into those type of love story movies. But the two together no doubt did a excellent job with the parts.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Oh, that gay scene with the spit in the tent? Iconic.
      And it's a little bit of a dark film, what with the struggle of twenty years of 'fishing trips' and Ennis' reluctance to get together with Jack. And then Jack dying.
      And that was a very uncomfortable relationship, right? To thing that then went on to get married...

      XOXO

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  8. Same here with being 'the secret' with a married man. I was absorbed into his family, friends with his wife, took care of his kid. Actually, his son is on Blogger and is gay. He is probably reading this as he stalks me. It is the reason I don't go to certain blogs as I feel he needs his space. I only wish him the best.

    BBM was good as a gay 'period piece'. On the same vein, and better to me was "Man In An Orange Shirt" done on PBS Masterpiece Theatre.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, it's hard.
      And that's quite the story, Jimmy! And I hope he reads this: he can go fuck himself.

      I'm going to search for Man in an Orange Shirt right away!

      XOXO

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    2. No, the son is a nice person. Not like his father.

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    3. Oh, that was for the daddy. The son has probably had enough to deal with up until now...

      XOXO

      Delete
  9. That scene at the end, when you see that Ennis kept jack's shirt always breaks my heart.

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    Replies
    1. OMG
      Tears. Tears, I tell you!
      The symbolism of those two shirts (he thought he had lost his after the fight) never escapes me.
      Gawd!

      XOXO

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  10. Ground breaking. I didn’t see it until it came out on disc. But it’s heartbreaking what men go through to develop that kind of a relationship and then have to keep it a secret. It’s a tough life.

    XOXO 👨‍❤️‍💋‍👨

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was groundbreaking.
      And it gets to me. Every time I watch it.

      XOXO

      Delete
  11. I saw this twice at the cinema, too. One of those was while on a date, and we were both blubbering messes by the end. I bought it on DVD as soon as it came out, but I have never been able to face watching it due to how it makes me feel. (The same goes for Watership Down - bought the DVD but can't bear to subject myself to the horror and sadness)

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    Replies
    1. Oh, I know!
      I always cry when I watch Brokeback Mountain. Always. It never fails to get me emotional. And I have not watched Watership Down. Didn't Sam Smith sing the theme song?

      XOXO

      Delete

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