Style and Thematic Analysis of Brokeback Mountain
Brokeback Mountain, released in 2005, is considered to be a culturally important romance film and also one of the boldest film, receiving high critical acclaim and commercial success. It won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2005 and at the 78th Academy Awards Oscar for best director, best adapted screenplay and best original score in 2006. Professional film critics widely praised Brokeback Mountain, they admitted its significance and included it as one of the 400 nominated films for the American Film Institute and it was ranked the 40 greatest film since 2000 from an international poll conducted by BBC. The box office was up to a gross of $178,062,759, adding to the top- grossing release of Focus Features. Comment from Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman, said: “Brokeback Mountain is that rare thing, a big Hollywood weeper with a beautiful ache at its center. It's a modern-age Western that turns into a quietly revolutionary love story.”
The film depicts a complex homosexual relationship with endurance and invisible passion between Ennis and Jack in American West from 1963 to 1983. The style including setting, framing and sound are perfectly arranged to serve the romantic theme as well complex characterization and homosexual issues. Like many of the romantic films, there are always “forces opposed to love”. While in Brokeback Mountain, the greatest obstacle is their sexualities. According to Chicago Sun-Times, “the Brokeback Mountain is the story of a time and place where two men are forced to deny the only great passion either one will ever feel. Their tragedy is universal.” The universal tragedy also reflects a controversial issue in American society – the status of homosexuality.
Sets refer to the elements for the background of a scene, including real environments and studio stuffs. They serve to provide symbolic meaning and emotional significance.
Brokeback Mountain is remarkable for its images of the mountain and rippling creeks. In spite of creating magnificent visual scenes, they also symbolize the protection, and infinity. Ennis and Jack’s relationship begins on the mountain and during the 20 years’ intermittent meetings, they always choose the mountain as their hidden place. The mountain thus seen as a great protector, who cut off all conventional regulations and social discriminations. On the other hand, the mountain itself seems infinite in its massive geographical extent, which is perfectly expressive of the eternal love of Ennis and Jack. Every time Ennis and Jack come to the mountain, their appearances changed while affection never fades away. The rippling creeks represent the slowly flowing love of Ennis and Jack, which is invisible under the ordinary life like the creeks hidden in the mountains.
Framing is a more specific way to create an expressive space. It refers to use architectural features to “frame” an action and to provoke it with meanings.
In Brokeback Mountain, the window is typically used to imply the loophole of characters’ emotion. Ennis spent 4 years as a good husband but the window leaks all his suppressed emotions. He sits next to the window from dawn to dusk waiting for Jack, one cigarette after another. As such, the outside of the window is his true desire while the house is a cage.
In the film’s final scene, Ennis hangs their blood-stained shirts on the closet door with a picture of Brokeback Mountain and closes it leaving them in the darkness while the scenery outside the window is shining. The window frames the shining scenery to make a contrast with the shirts in the dark closet. In western cultural, admitting your homosexual orientation is often referred to as “coming out”. But Ennis choose to hide it in the closet, which means he decided to conceal this homosexual relationship hidden deeply in the closet because he knew the beautiful scene outside would never belong to him after Jack’s death. Thus the deep affection on Jack fully reveals 被动by the window though Ennis says a little.
Critical Perspectives-Theamatic Analysis
Homosexuality issue in America
The reason we labeled Brokeback Mountain as one of the boldest films is because its homosexual theme, connecting the ethical concerns. In Brokeback Mountain, the situation of homosexuality in American are discrimination and suppression.
First, after the boss discovered the intimacy between Jack and Ennis, he quickly dismissed them with incredible reasons and refused Jack’s job application, responding with rude and discriminated discriminatory tone. Thus we could figure out that homosexuals though are not coming out, yet once the society found out his orientation, the discrimination followed.
Second, the small town like Ennis lived hold hatred and phobia towards this group. Parents won’t allow this thing happens to their children, so they taught them in extreme ways like watching the dead body. When he was a boy, he was forced by his father to see the gay man’s dead body who was cruelly killed by his neighborhoods. This trauma remains in Ennis mind as he grew up, which made him constantly refuse Jack’s plans for their future. The suppression also can be see in other form—fake marriage. Ennis and Jack suppressed their true orientations and got married. At that time, this suppression was invisible, because two of them unanimously choose to hide themselves as if it is a disgusting thing.
As for the reasons for the discrimination and suppression, there are two main reasons. One is from the notions of the religion, also the root reason. The West is a fundamentally Christian culture, which has shaped people’s spirits ad ethical values. Homosexuals were initially defined as sinners: “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads” (Bible, Leviticus 18:22). Guided by this principle, American society has witnessed a long history of suppressing and discriminating homosexuals. This homosexual relationship in the film started from 1963 to 1983, which is also a crucial period for gay group: in 1969, Stonewall riots broke out and it was the first time the homosexual group rose up to fight against the persecution conducted by the government; in 1974, homosexuality was no longer considered as an illness. Although several movements were widely supported, the prejudice still lingers on in people’s minds and aversion therapy, such as electric shocks, was widely considered to cure homosexuality.
Another reason that threw this group into hell was the spread of AIDS in 1981, which initially only spread among gay groups. Thus the phobia evaluated and expanded and the condition of gay groups became serious, such as the discrimination on employment, education and enrollment for the army. Under these situations, the love between Ennis and Jack could not be expressed but hidden in mountains. America has long been seen as a great country who claims the freedom, democracy and equity, but when dealing with homosexual issue, it was not until 2015 did the Supreme Court pass the gay marriage bill.
The great success the Brokeback Mountain has achieved was not only because of its detailed style but also its advocate of the true love despite of the gender. “Their tragedy is universal”, as the critic puts, can be an open end topic for us to think about the universal connection between homosexuals and us.