Editorial 24 - February 2006 - Brokeback Mountain Movie Review
In the movie Brokeback Mountain, two cowboys, Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar, fall in love. Their love stands the test of time, separation, societal-disfavor, straight marriages, job pressures, fear and distance. For years, the lovers meet for short romantic fishing trips. They do not feel able to express or celebrate the passion, the intensity or the commitment of their love openly. The fishing trips, the get-togethers are never frequent enough, long enough, or enough to express their feelings. Their love for each other and their sexuality remains hidden, covered by the wives, children, jobs and leisure activities they have.
To gay, lesbian and bisexual people, Brokeback Mountain is far more than a movie about a loving same-gender relationship. In some respects, Brokeback Mountain is a movie about the very essence of being gay or bisexual. Giving and receiving love is dangerous. Having a fulfilling life requires not just being able to be out; it requires being safely out. Fear and not feeling safe to be who you are is a part of being gay, lesbian or bisexual.
This is something straight people do easily understand, because they do not face such deep fears every day. Straight people do not have to worry about society disapproving of the gender of their mate. There is no need to hide a straight relationship. A loving kiss or holding hands does not need to be limited to the privacy of indoors or to a remote mountain where nobody can see. Heterosexual love can be open. Society celebrates heterosexuality and heterosexual love. There are marriages, children, anniversaries and family times. But people in same-gender relationships may have to hide who they are, because being open is frightening, and, in some areas of the world very dangerous.
The dangers of gay relationships are clear in the movie. There is the story of the old man who was killed in a hate crime. Whenever the men's love longs to be more consistently lived out, more open, the fear of the danger of being open drives them apart, drives them back into the closet. And eventually, it is death that ends ends the relationship. When the wife of Jack Twist tells Ennis del Mar, his gay lover, how her husband died in a freak accident, the scene of a man being brutally murdered flashes on the screen. The scene of the brutal murder could be the truth of how Jack Twist died. It also could be the deep fear Ennis had that Jack was murdered.
The theme of love than transcends tremendous obstacles, such as distance and separation is not new. We have seen it in other well-known movies. What makes this movie unique is that this love overcomes the obstacle of societal fear, of homophobia and of heterosexism. Those are obstacles every gay or bisexual person faces when they fall in love with another person of the same gender.
There are a few questions movie goers need to ask themselves after watching Brokeback Mountain. Those questions include:
- Do I have the courage to live and love as gay and bisexual people must live and love?
- Is my love deep enough and courageous enough to withstand the hatred and fears of society?
- Which is deeper in my life, my love, my fear or my hate?
- Do I have the depth of character to walk in the shoes of gay or bisexual men and women?
- Am I part of the problem or part of the answer?
- Have my words, actions or deeds made secrecy of the closet an easier choice for gay people? Or have my words, actions and deeds made it less stressful for gay and bisexual men and women to be who they are?
- Do I have the courage to work to change societal attitudes towards gay, lesbian and bisexual people?