Sunday, December 20, 2009

Brokeback Mountain

I'm watching a lot of movies these days courtesy of Netflix. I thought I might as well review them in case you would be interested in my humble opinion.

I watched Brokeback Mountain last night, my second time since seeing it in the theater. Since the first time, I have come to regard Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger as a couple of my favorite actors and I wanted to see how that would affect my opinion of the movie. My biggest impression after viewing the movie for the second time and weeping like I did the first time was that Ledger's performance was amazing. The movie could have so easily been campy with two characters that were almost caricatures of cowboys, but the talented and heartfelt acting elevated the dialogue far above the average love story.

In my opinion, the movie is not so much about two gay cowboys who fall in love (seeing as they were bisexual at the very least), it is a movie that explores the idea of what love really is, and how we as complex human beings tend to fight love instead of allowing it to become whatever it is, naturally. The movie is groundbreaking in its honest depiction of love between two men, so it rightfully deserves it's place as a gay feature film coup de grace, but the message of the movie stays the same whether you are gay or straight; To be happy in love and life, you must take chances.

The music and the stunning scenery lulls us into trance, while the depiction of a hard but pastoral cowboy life sliding inevitably into a domestic boiling pot of trouble reverberates with most working people. We don't really know if it makes more sense for Jack and Ennis to try to forge a life together in order to fulfill their hearts dream, or if they should continue on the paths they have followed for so long. All we know is that they aren't happy, and for them to become happy, we think that they must go ahead and take that unthinkable chance. Fear is what keeps Ennis from doing so, fear of the terrible violence that he saw with young eyes, the violence that erupts from those who fear the differences in the "other", which Jung has stated comes from that which we fear in ourselves. Where else would the violence come from? If we were at peace with ourselves, there would be no violence.

In accordance with that rule, we see Ennis becoming desolate and more violent, to himself and others. We watch as Jack searches for his dream elsewhere. And in the end, we find that Ennis is correct in his estimation of the violence in his fellow man, and Jack's dreams ring hollow, at least in that place in time in that particular society.

While the film slowly winds to a heartbroken halt and tears are coaxed from my eyes, I wonder why we as humans attempt so constantly to block love, to stop happiness in its tracks. It almost seems to me that our main societal endeavor so far has been to shimmy down a path that leads to less and less heartfelt action, toward an emptiness of the soul but a richness in material wealth in our daily action. When it comes down to it, how much of us are filled with love and happiness all day every day? How many of us are pursuing our dreams, for fear that not doing so would be the end of not only our dreams, but our lives?

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