Monday, December 26, 2005

Brokeback Mountain

David and I went to see Brokeback Mountain on the 23rd which, I believe, was the first day it showed in an additional four or five theaters (suburban mall type theaters) after it's very limited release in Denver. After it's inaugural showing in Denver at the new Opera House (not really a movie venue)--which David attended--it opened at the Mayan theater. The Mayan is what I call an "artsy-craftsy" venue where mostly independently produced, small budget films show on small screens with horrible acoustics and--being kind--dated audio.

Let's begin with the short story.

Annie Proulx (pronounced proo) took six months to write the short story of the same name, while she admits on her website that she usually takes only three months to write a novel. The short story was published in The New Yorker magazine in 1997.

While I know a wee bit about writing and do devote my days to the craft, I certainly am not as accomplished as Proulx and I do have to admit Brokeback was the first of Ms. Proulx's works I've read. Two things: I found the story clipped and to the point; it's as spare a short story as any I've read which, in most cases, is a good thing; secondly, I found the characters, Ennis and Jack (in the short story) to be a bit, um--dare I say it--stupid or, at least, a little ignorant. These two characters, Ennis and Jack, seemed not to have a clue about the world other than their very small corner of it. Remember, this was 1963. Jack Kennedy was in the White House (and would be assassinated that same year); the Cuban missile crisis had occurred; Sputniks from the Soviet Union had scared the bejesus out of every god-fearing American (bomb shelters were being dug in suburban back yards, for god's sake). And, Ennis and Jack... Well, even cowboys, even in 1963 watched tv and occasionally read newspapers. I guess I wish that Ennis and Jack had not been so insularly portrayed. I mean, wouldn't it have been neat if, on one clear and starry night on Brokeback Mountain, as they pressed their backs against the good earth and stared into the night, Jack would have said:

"Why lookit there," Jack said, as he pointed to a pinpoint of light that moved slowly across the moonless sky. "I bet that is one of them Sputniks." Ennis propped his head up on his palm with an elbow to the ground and followed Jack's outstretched arm.

Ennis chewed a bit on his toothpick before he said, "Uh-huh. Could be."

The sexuality in the short story was, I believe, Proulx's best moment; it was portrayed so matter-of-factly and natural that it took a back seat to the love story which Brokeback Mountain irrefutably tells.

Now, to the movie.

The movie was absolutely--with a few minor exceptions and enhancements--beholdin' to Proulx's story. She says herself that she was literally "...knocked for a loop..." when she saw the movie and how literal the translation was.

I loved the movie. Please see it. Please read the short story.

Now, ya'll straight men with maybe a little too much blubber around your middle and maybe a little self-conscious about that receding hairline and maybe not likin' even the thought of fulfilling the little woman's needs anymore; yes, ya'll straight men might want to stay away from the movie or you might not want to read the short story. See, I've got this theory that there's a whole lot of hetero men out there who, like Jack and Ennis, had some pretty strong feelings about another man or boy in their lives and they may well have, at one time, acted on that impulse to touch and be touched; love and be loved ... by another man. The other part of the theory is, of course, that the man I've described above is scared shitless to relive anything at all to do with that moment, day, week he may have had with another man/boy a thousand years ago when such things could just be forgotten, hidden, tucked away somewhere in the baggage of that man's or boy's mind. Or, indeed, would that moment, day, week more likely be tucked away where the special things are stored; where, at the end of days, those images become more precious than life itself?

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