Brokeback Mountain
Directed byAng Lee
Produced byDiana Ossana
James Schamus
Written byScreenplay
Larry McMurtry
Diana Ossana
Short Story
Annie Proulx
StarringHeath Ledger
Jake Gyllenhaal
Anne Hathaway
Michelle Williams
Linda Cardellini
Anna Faris
Randy Quaid
Music byGustavo Santaolalla
CinematographyRodrigo Prieto
Edited byGeraldine Peroni
Dylan Tichenor
Distributed byFocus Features
Release date25px December 9, 2005
25px January 6, 2006
25px January 26, 2006
Running time134 min.

Brokeback Mountain is an acclaimed Academy Award-winning LGBT 2005 Film that depicts the complex emotional, sexual, and romantic relationship between two men in the American West from 1963 to 1983.

The film is directed by Taiwanese director Ang Lee from a screenplay by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry, which they adapted from the short story "Brokeback Mountain" by Annie Proulx. The film stars Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams, Anna Faris, Linda Cardellini, and Randy Quaid.

Brokeback Mountain won the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival, and was honored with Best Picture and Best Director accolades from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Golden Globe Awards, Critics Choice Awards, and Independent Spirit Awards among many other organizations and festivals. Brokeback Mountain had the most nominations (eight) for the 78th Academy Awards, where it won three: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score. The film was widely considered to be a front-runner for the Academy Award for Best Picture, though it ultimately lost to Crash.[2][3][4][5][6]


Brokeback Mountain is the story of Ennis del Mar (Ledger) and Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal), two young men who meet and fall in love in 1963 on a sheepherding job on "Brokeback Mountain" in Wyoming. The film documents their complex relationship over the next twenty years.

Template:Spoiler The film opens in the summer of 1963, with a semi-tractor/trailer truck driving in the pre-dawn from right to left across the screen. After sunrise Ennis del Mar, traveling with only a brown paper bag in hand, is dropped off by the truck's driver in a rural town. Waiting outside a trailer office to seek employment, he sees Jack Twist arrive, also hoping for work. Ennis and Jack are hired by a gruff sheep rancher (Randy Quaid) in Signal, Wyoming, to herd sheep on nearby Brokeback Mountain. One of the men stays at a base camp, preparing meals, while the other watches after the sheep from a pup tent higher up on the slopes. They meet only for meals at the base camp, where they gradually become friends as the meals turn into long talks over whiskey. After one night of heavy drinking, a tipsy Ennis decides to stay at the base camp and sleep fireside instead of returning to the sheep. During the cold early morning hours, with campfire out, a moaning and teeth-a-knocking Ennis is invited by Jack to sleep in the tent. After a while Jack initiates an intimate touching action which results in a brief, but very arousing, sexual encounter. They both insist the next day that they "ain't queer"; however, over the remainder of the summer their emotional and physical relationship deepens. Meanwhile, certain ominous events take place during the season: the sheep are mixed in with another foreign herd, one sheep is disemboweled by wolves, a violent thunderstorm comes quickly upon the two men, and a sudden snowfall near the end of August signals an earlier than expected end of summer. On the last day of their job, their frustrations over leaving each other manifest in a playful fight that turns into a scuffle. Jack clips Ennis in the nose causing him to bleed, and Ennis punches Jack in the face.

After the two part ways at the end of their job, (with Ennis becoming physically ill in a memorable scene immediately following Jack's departure) Ennis marries his long-term fiancée Alma Beers (Williams), and they eventually have a family with two daughters, Alma Jr. and Jenny, living above a laundromat in a small Wyoming town. Jack winds up in Texas, where he meets and marries rodeo princess Lureen Newsome (Hathaway), the daughter of a farm equipment magnate. The couple have a son, Bobby. Jack goes to work for Lureen's father at his ranch equipment dealership, despite being constantly demeaned by his father-in-law.

Four years later, Ennis receives a postcard from Jack saying he will be passing through the area, and asking if Ennis wants to meet him. When Jack arrives, their passions for each other quickly rekindle, and they spend the night together in a motel. They go camping in the wilderness the next day, where Jack broaches the subject of creating a life together on a small ranch. Ennis, haunted by a painful childhood memory of the torture and murder of a man suspected as gay in his hometown, fears that such an arrangement can only end in tragedy. He is also unwilling to abandon his wife and daughters. Unable to be open about their relationship, Ennis and Jack then settle for infrequent meetings on camping trips in the mountains.


Ledger as Ennis Del Mar.

As the years pass, Ennis and Alma's marriage deteriorates. Although Ennis hadn't realized it, Alma had accidentally witnessed the two men passionately kissing during Jack's first visit. This, on top of caring for their daughters and earning a living, strains the couple's relationship. During sex one night, Alma insults Ennis's ability to support their children when she insists he use a condom. Soon after, their marriage ends in Divorce. Ennis moves into a rundown house outside of town and has to pay child support. Jack, upon hearing the news of the divorce, drives to Wyoming in hopes that they can live together at last, but Ennis refuses to move away from his children and is still fearful of possible repercussions if they live together. Jack, heartbroken and frustrated, seeks out a male prostitute in Mexico.

On another camping trip in the mountains in 1983 the two men talk about their lives since they last met: Ennis has been dating a waitress named Cassie Cartwright (Linda Cardellini), while Jack says he's been seeing the wife of a rancher (however, we were shown in an earlier scene that Jack was likely to become involved with the rancher himself). The emotional climax between the two men takes place as they pack up their gear, when Ennis tells Jack that because of his job he has to cancel their next planned outing, meaning they will not meet again for several months. Jack's frustration finally erupts into an argument wherein he accuses Ennis of keeping him "on a short leash." In return, Ennis blames Jack for "making me the way I am" and for being the cause of his conflicted feelings. Ennis then laments that these emotions have trapped him and ruined his life and begins to cry. When Jack attempts to hold him, there is a brief struggle as Ennis tries to push Jack away, but they end up locked in an embrace. The two men again part, still upset and conflicted about their situation.

Months later, a postcard Ennis sent to Jack about their upcoming meeting in November is returned to Ennis in the mail stamped "Deceased." In a strained telephone conversation, Jack's wife Lureen tells a stunned Ennis that Jack died in an accident while changing a tire that exploded. While she explains the circumstances of the accident, Ennis fearfully pictures, instead, his beloved Jack being beaten to death by a gang of homophobic men. Lureen tells Ennis that Jack had wished to have his ashes scattered on Brokeback Mountain, but she didn't know where that was. She tells Ennis that half of Jack's ashes were interred in Texas and that she sent the other half to Jack's parents. Ennis explains to Lureen the significance of Brokeback Mountain, possibly bringing her to a quiet revelation of the real purpose behind her late husband's fishing trips. She then curtly suggests that Ennis contact Jack's parents about carrying out Jack's wishes.

File:Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal.jpg

Gyllenhaal and Hathaway as Jack Twist and Lureen Newsome.

Ennis travels to see Jack's parents in Lightning Flat, where he offers to take Jack's ashes to Brokeback Mountain. Jack's father stubbornly refuses, insisting that Jack's remains are to be buried in the family plot. Jack's mother is more welcoming, and gently insists that Ennis see Jack's childhood bedroom before he leaves. In this room, Ennis discovers two old shirts, with bloodstains on the sleeve, hidden in the back of the closet. The shirts, hung one inside the other (Jack's over Ennis's) on one hanger, are the same shirts the two men were wearing when they fought on their last day on Brokeback Mountain in 1963. A grief-stricken Ennis holds the shirts up to his face and embraces them, seeking any remaining scent or semblance of his now dead lover. Jack's mother allows Ennis to take the shirts, and he leaves with a brown paper bag in hand (as in the film's first scene, Ennis's life seems to be carried in this simplest of containers). On his way home, Ennis' pickup truck is seen driving along a highway in the evening dusk, moving from left to right, in a mirror image of the opening scene.

In the final scene, Ennis is living alone is a small, run-down trailer on the prairie. A 19-year-old Alma Jr. visits with news that she's engaged. She asks her father to give his blessing, and to attend the wedding. After asking if the young man indeed loves her (he now being deeply aware of the importance of love), he is at first reluctant, saying his job won't let him attend. Then, after seeing how disappointed Alma is, he changes his mind and agrees to go, and pours glasses of wine [7] for him and his daughter with which to celebrate. After Alma's departure, Ennis notices she has forgotten her sweater. Folding the sweater, he continues into his trailer bedroom, opening the closet door to put it away. On the inside of the door we see he has carefully hung those two shirts, still one inside the other, but now reversed (his atop Jack's). Alongside them is tacked a postcard of Brokeback Mountain. Ennis carefully fastens the top button of Jack's shirt, and with tears in his eyes mutters, "Jack, I swear....", while slowly straightening the postcard. As Ennis shuts the closet door, the focus of the shot is then shifted to an adjacent window, forcing our view onto sunlit fields and a dirt road in the distance. The music gets louder as the screen fades.


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While the movie is set in the Big Horn Mountains of eastern Wyoming, most of it was filmed in the Canadian Rockies in southern Alberta. Ang Lee decided that Alberta would be an ideal place to shoot Brokeback Mountain because of its lush landscapes broadly similar to those in Wyoming, the lower production costs in Canada, and the willingness of the Alberta Film Development Corporation, an instrument of the Alberta provincial crown, to assist with funding.[citation needed]

The "Brokeback Mountain" in the movie, named such because the mountain has the same swayback curve as a brokeback horse or mule, which is swaybacked or sagging in the spine,[8] is actually a composite of Mount Peter Lougheed south of the town of Canmore to Fortress and Moose Mountain in Kananaskis Country.[9] The campsites were filmed at Goat Creek, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Elbow Falls and Canyon Creek, also in Alberta. Other movie scenes were also filmed in Cowley and Fort Macleod.[10]

Other parts of the movie were filmed in the Alberta towns of Crossfield, Beiseker, Rockyford, Blackie, Dinton, and Claresholm; La Mesilla, New Mexico[11] and in Wyoming, at Grand Teton National Park.[citation needed]

The movie was filmed during the summer of 2004.[12]

During filming it was reported Ledger almost broke Gyllenhaal's nose during a kissing scene, as the scene required that they pull each other close very quickly.[citation needed]

Commercial success

Brokeback Mountain cost about U.S.$14 million to produce, excluding its advertising budget of (allegedly) $5 million.[13] According to interviews with the filmmakers, Focus Features was able to recoup its production costs early on by selling overseas rights to the film.

The film saw limited release in the United States on December 9, 2005 (in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco), taking $547,425 in five theaters its first weekend. This was the highest per-showing average for any drama in film history.[citation needed]

Over the Christmas weekend, it posted the highest per theater gross of any movie and was considered a box office success not only in urban centers such as New York City and Los Angeles, but also in suburban theaters near Portland, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, and Atlanta. On January 6, 2006, the movie expanded into 483 theaters, and, on January 13, 2006 Focus Features, the movie's distributor, opened Brokeback in nearly 700 North American cinemas as part of its ongoing expansion strategy for the movie. On January 20, the film opened in 1,194 theaters in North America; it opened in 1,652 theaters on January 27 and in 2,089 theaters on February 3, its widest release.

Brokeback Mountain's theatrical run lasted for 133 days and grossed $83,043,761 in North America and $95,000,000 abroad, adding up to a worldwide gross of more than $178 million.[14] It is the top-grossing release of Focus Features,[15] ranks fifth among the highest-grossing westerns,[16] and eighth among the highest-grossing romantic dramas (1980–Present).[17]

The film was released in London, UK on December 30, 2005 in only one cinema, and was widely released in UK on January 6, 2006. On January 11, Time Out London magazine reported that Brokeback was the number one movie in the city, a position it held for three weeks.[18]

The movie was released in France on January 18, 2006 in 155 cinemas (expanding into 258 cinemas in the second week and into 290 in the third week). In its first week of release, Brokeback Mountain was in third place at the French box office, with 277,000 people viewing the movie, or an average of 1,787 people by cinema per week, the highest such figure for any film in France that week. One month later, it reached more than one million viewers (more than 1,250,000 on March 18), with still 168 cinemas (in the 10th week). Released in Italy on January 20, the film grossed more than 890,000 euros in only three days, and was the fourth highest-grossing film in the country in its first week of release. In the second week, in 224 theatres, the film's gross increased to €1,986,000, and is at €4,626,271 for its fifth week (second only to Match Point at its sixth week).[citation needed]

Brokeback Mountain was released in Australia on January 26, 2006, where it landed in fourth place at the box office and earned an average per-screen gross three times higher than its nearest competitor during its first weekend despite being released in only 48 cinemas nationwide. Most of the Australian critics praised the film.[19] Brokeback was released in many other countries during the first three months of 2006.[20] The film was released in Peru and in the Netherlands on 16 February, and opened in Germany on 9 March. It premiered in Brazil on February 3 and quickly topped the charts with more than 100,000 viewers. The movie was released in India on March 10.

During its first week of release, Brokeback was in first place in Hong Kong's box office, with more than US$350,000 (nearly $17,000 per cinema).[citation needed]

Brokeback Mountain was the highest-grossing movie in the U.S. from Tuesday, January 17 through Thursday, January 19, 2006, perhaps due primarily to its wins at the Golden Globes on January 16. Indeed, the movie was one of the top five highest-grossing films in the U.S. every day from January 17 until January 28, including over the weekend (when more people go to the movies and big-budget films usually crowd out independent films from the top-grossing list) of January 20–22.[21] On Saturday, January 28, the movie fell out of the top five and into sixth place at the box office during that weekend before entering the top five again on Monday, January 30, and remaining there until Friday, February 10.

The movie was released on January 20, 2006 in Taiwan, where director Ang Lee was born. It ran until April 20. Box office made NTD 50,112,471(US$1,568,957) in 16 theaters with a total of audience of 210,791.[citation needed]

Tangentially the pair of shirts from the film sold on eBay on February 20, 2006, for US$101,100.[22][23] The buyer, film historian and collector Tom Gregory, called the shirts "the ruby slippers of our time," and intends never to separate them.[24] The proceeds will benefit California children's charity Variety, which has long been associated with the movie industry.[25]


Professional film critics have heaped praise on Brokeback Mountain.[26] The film won four Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture-Drama, and was nominated for seven, leading all other films in the 2005 awards. It has won the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival, as well as the title Best Picture from the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics Association, the Florida Film Critics Circle, the Las Vegas Film Critics Society, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, the Southeastern Film Critics Association, the Utah Film Critics Society, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (the BAFTAs).

Brokeback Mountain was given two thumbs up by Ebert & Roeper, the former granting a four-star review in the Chicago Sun-Times. The film received "circumspect" positive reviews from Christianity Today.[27] Film critic Michael Medved gave the film three and a half stars, stating that while the movie's "agenda" is blatant, it is an artistic work. He did not, however, place the film on his year end top 5 list.[28]

Most gay and lesbian cultural commentators have praised the film[citation needed], although a few critics, such as David Ehrenstein, believe that the film's cultural impact is being overplayed at the expense of other groundbreaking films and the challenges that openly gay and lesbian actors still face. A few other gay commentators have written disapprovingly about the fact that, in what has been widely hailed as a "breakthrough" film for gay cinema, neither the film's two lead actors, nor its director, nor its screenwriters are gay. Template:Double image The film's significance is attributed to its portrayal of a same-sex relationship without any reference to the history of the gay civil rights movement.[29] This emphasizes the tragic love story aspect, which leads many commentators to effectively compare Ennis and Jack's drama to classic and modern romances like Romeo and Juliet or Titanic, often using the term star-crossed lovers.[30][31][32] This link to classic romances is no coincidence: the poster for the film was inspired by that of James Cameron's Titanic, after Ang Lee's collaborator James Schamus looked at the posters of "the 50 most romantic movies ever made".[33]

There was also disagreement among reviewers, critics, and even the cast and crew as to whether or not the two protagonists of the film were actually gay, bisexual, heterosexual, or under no sexual label at all. Most often the film was referred to in the media as the "gay cowboy movie," but a number of reviewers wrote that Jack and Ennis were bisexual.[34][35][36] Sex researcher Fritz Klein also asserted his opinion that the movie was "a nice film with two main characters who were bisexual," and further analyzed that Jack is more "toward the gay side of bisexuality" and Ennis is "a bit more toward the straight side of being bisexual."[37] In an article in American Sexuality Magazine, Amy Andre critiqued the media's avoidance of the use of the term bisexual in association with Brokeback Mountain:

"Brokeback Mountain is not a movie about gay people, and there are no gay people in it. There. I said it. Despite what you may have read in the many reviews that have come out about this new cowboy feature film, Brokeback Mountain is a bisexual picture. Why can't film reviewers say the word 'bisexual' when they see lead characters with sexual and romantic relationships with both men and women? I am unaware of a single review of Brokeback calling the leads what they are—a sad statement on the invisibility of bisexual experience and the level of biphobia in both the mainstream and gay media."[38]

Gyllenhaal himself took the opinion that Ennis and Jack were heterosexual men who "develop this love, this bond," also saying in a Details magazine interview: "I approached the story believing that these are actually two straight guys who fall in love."[39] Others, still, stated they felt the characters' sexuality to be simply ambiguous. Clarence Patton and Christopher Murray said in New York's Gay City News that Ennis and Jack's experiences were metaphors for "many men who do not identify as gay or even bisexual, but who nevertheless have sex with other men."[40] A review at wrote, "We later see Jack eagerly engage Lureen sexually, with no explanation as to whether he is bisexual, so in need of physical intimacy that anyone, regardless of gender, will do, or merely very adept at faking it."[41] Ledger was quoted as stating in Time: "I don't think Ennis could be labeled as gay. Without Jack Twist, I don't know that he ever would have come out... I think the whole point was that it was two souls that fell in love with each other." Conversely, others stated that the characters were undoubtedly gay, including GLBT non-fiction author Eric Marcus, who dismissed "talk of Ennis and Jack being anything but gay as box office-influenced political correctness intended to steer straight audiences to the film." Annie Proulx herself said "how different readers take the story is a reflection of their own personal values, attitudes, hang-ups,"[42] though she also openly described both characters as homosexual,[citation needed] and the film's producer, James Schamus, said "I suppose movies can be Rorschach tests for all of us, but damn if these characters aren't gay to me."[43]

When Ledger and Gyllenhaal were asked about any fear of being cast in such controversial roles, Ledger responded that he was not afraid of the role, but rather he was concerned that he would not be mature enough as an actor to do the story justice. Gyllenhaal has stated that he is extremely proud of the movie and his role, regardless of what the reactions would be. Although he has repeatedly stated that he is heterosexual, he regards rumors of him being bisexual as flattering[citation needed]. Both have stated that the sex scenes in the beginning were difficult to do. Lee found the first scene difficult to film and has stated he has great respect for the two main actors for their "courage."

On January 3, 2006, Universal, the studio of which Focus Features is the specialty division, announced that Brokeback Mountain was the most honored film of 2005. The independent website backed that assertion, reporting that Brokeback Mountain was the most frequently-selected movie on reviewers' year-end "Top Ten" lists of 2005.[44]

On March 9, 2006 Brokeback Mountain made the news yet again when a press release was sent to more than 400 media outlets announcing that nearly $26,000 had been raised for an ad to be posted in the Daily Variety on March 10, 2006.[45] This $26,000 had been raised by just over 600 fans through an online donations site, affiliated with a non-studio-sponsored online forum which is devoted to the film and the book.[46] The story was quickly picked up by several outlets including Yahoo!, The Advocate, and The New York Times.[47][48][49] The ad served as a simple show of fan support despite its losing the Best Picture Oscar,[50] and is probably the first time that fans have sponsored the running of such an ad. This Daily Variety issue is already sold out and is impossible to order as a back issue.[citation needed]

Although there are minor differences between the original short story and the movie, Proulx stated in an extra essay published in a reprint of her "Brokeback Mountain" short stories compilation that she was positively surprised and impressed how Ang Lee, the scriptwriters and the actors were able to portray the story, calling it even an improvement from her original short story. She also said that Ledger was "exactly" as she'd envisioned Ennis, but Gyllenhaal was something altogether different, although she loved the way he played it.[citation needed]


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International reception

The title of Brokeback Mountain has been translated into several other languages. Often the foreign title is literally The Secret(s) of Brokeback Mountain (how the French, Italian, Portuguese and Polish titles translate). In French Canada, the title was translated to Souvenirs de Brokeback Mountain (Memories of Brokeback Mountain). The Region 1 DVD has English, Spanish, French, and on some DVDs, German audio tracks.

The film also met with mixed reactions in other nations, including the People's Republic of China and Middle Eastern countries:

  • In the People's Republic of China mainland the film was not shown in theaters (only a limited number are shown) although it was freely available in bootleg DVD and video. It was also widely discussed on radio, television and in print media, with many reviews being strongly favorable.[citation needed] The reason given by the state for not showing the movie in theaters was that the anticipated audience was too small to justify this type of release. However, foreign media advanced the argument that this was merely a cover and that government hostility is better explained by opposition to the homosexuality portrayed in the movie. Although the movie wasn't shown in mainland China, the mainland Chinese media praised Taiwan-born Ang Lee for his Best Director Oscar win, but state TV cut part of Lee's acceptance speech mentioning China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
  • According to news reports, the film has been banned from theaters in mainland China, where censors still consider homosexual relationships to be a taboo topic.[51][52][53]Brokeback Mountain is, however, playing in Lee's native Taiwan and opened in Hong Kong on February 23, 2006.[54]
  • In the Middle East, the film was a political issue. Homosexuality remains a serious crime in most Middle Eastern nations and remains a taboo subject even in the few nations where it is legal. Hence, the film was released in Turkey, but only with a condition that audience members must be older than 18.[citation needed] Lebanon is the only Arab-majority country showing the film, but in a censored format.[citation needed] The film was officially banned in the United Arab Emirates.[55] The movie is being shown in Israel, the only country in the Middle East where homosexuals are protected under anti-discrimination laws.[56][57]


Roman Catholic Church

The positive review by the Catholic News Service caused a controversy in itself when it gave the movie an "L" rating, meaning "appropriate for limited adult audiences". A few days after the original review was published, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting changed the rating to "O" for "morally offensive," in part due to the reaction of conservative Catholic organizations, such as LifeSite.[58] On December 29, 2005, the review was completely removed and replaced with a review that praised the film and its actors as "superb" but also stated that the homosexual relationship the film portrays went against Catholic teachings. Nevertheless, the review stated, "The universal themes of love and loss ring true."

Utah theater cancellation

On January 6, 2006, Utah Jazz owner and Latter-day Saint Larry H. Miller pulled the film from his Jordan Commons entertainment complex in Sandy, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City. The decision was made at the last minute after entering into a contract to show the film and heavily advertising for it. He reneged on his obligations approximately two hours before the first scheduled showing upon learning that the plot concerned a same-sex romance. Miller stated that the film got away from "traditional families," something which he believes is "dangerous."[59] Focus Features threatened to sue him and announced it would no longer do business with him. In a statement the company added, "You can't do business with people who break their word."

Political pundits

Several political pundits on Fox News, including commentators Bill O'Reilly, John Gibson, and Cal Thomas, accused Hollywood of pushing an agenda and told their viewers that The Chronicles of Narnia had more merit for "Best Picture of the Year." On December 23, 2005, the network reported that Brokeback Mountain was facing "Brokeback Burnout," citing as evidence a fall in revenues from Sunday, December 18, 2005, to Monday, as well as subsequent falls during the week,[60] despite the fact that nearly all films see smaller business during the week compared to weekends. O'Reilly has persisted in his criticism, bringing up the movie as a subject of intense criticism on more than nine occasions on his show, and a half-dozen times on his radio program, saying, "I have nothing against the subject matter. The point is that these newspapers use entertainment to push political agendas. They do it all the time, it's indoctrination. I'll predict the movie will get a lot of awards, but will not do big box office outside of the big cities."[61] Fox News columnist Priest Jonathan Morris has referred to the movie as "propaganda" that "glorifies homosexuality."[62]

Gene Shalit and The Today Show

The film critic for the U.S. morning show The Today Show, Gene Shalit, called Gyllenhaal's character, Jack Twist, a "sexual predator" who "tracks Ennis down and coaxes him into sporadic trysts." This triggered complaints, particularly from gay media watchdog group GLAAD, which argued that Shalit's characterization of the character would be akin to calling Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Titanic a sexual predator for his romantic pursuit of the character played by Kate Winslet. Shalit later apologized.

In a letter to GLAAD, Shalit's son Peter, who is gay, wrote, "He may have had an unpopular opinion of a movie that is important to the gay community, but he defamed no one, and he is not a homophobe." He went on to say that GLAAD had defamed his father by "falsely accusing him of a repellent form of bigotry."[63]

U.S. social conservatives

Several Christian fundamentalist groups, such as Concerned Women for America and Focus on the Family, lambasted the film heavily even prior to its release. Following wins by Brokeback Mountain, Capote, and Transamerica at the 2006 Golden Globes, Janice Crouse, a Concerned Women for America member, cited these films as examples of how "the media elites are proving that their pet projects are more important than profit" and suggested that they were not popular enough to merit so much critical acclaim.[64]

Right-wing radio personality Rush Limbaugh has referred to the film as Bareback Mountain and Humpback Mountain.[65] Don Imus, a controversial radio personality known to some as the "shock jock," had labeled the film "Fudgepack Mountain".[66]

Criticism of marketing

Some commentators have voiced concerns about the coverage of the movie's homosexual theme in the mass media both in advertising and in public events, such as press conferences and award ceremonies. Several journalists, including New York Daily News writer Wayman Wong, Dave Cullen and Daniel Mendelsohn,[67][68] have complained that the movie's director, lead actors, and publicity team all avoided using the word gay to describe the story and pointed out that the movie trailer does not show the two male leads kissing each other yet includes a clip from a heterosexual love scene.

Quaid lawsuit

On March 23, 2006, actor Randy Quaid, who played Joe Aguirre (Ennis's and Jack's boss), filed a lawsuit against Focus Features (LLC), Del Mar Productions (LLC), James Schamus, David Linde, and Doe's 1-10 alleging that they intentionally and negligently misrepresented Brokeback Mountain as "a low-budget, art house film with no prospect of making any money" in order to secure Quaid's professional acting services at below-market rates. The film had grossed more than $160 million as of the date of his lawsuit, which sought $10 million plus punitive damages.[69] On May 5, Quaid dropped his lawsuit. Quaid's publicist said he decided to drop the lawsuit after Focus Features agreed to pay him a bonus. Focus Features denies making such a settlement.[70]

Allegations of animal cruelty

The American Humane Association raised concerns that animals were treated improperly during filming, alleging that sheep were handled roughly and that an elk appeared to have been "shot" "on cue," suggesting further that the animal was anesthetized for this purpose, violating standard guidelines for animal-handling in the movie industry.[71]

Post-Academy Awards reaction

Main article: Critical reception of Brokeback Mountain: Post Academy Awards reaction

Brokeback Mountain had won the "Best Picture" award in almost every major pre-Oscar award ceremony. The media reported that a few senior voting members of the Academy made derogatory remarks about the film before the Academy Awards and subsequently suggested homophobia might be at work when the Academy selected Crash as Best Picture, especially after Ang Lee won the Academy Best Director for Brokeback Mountain. Author Annie Proulx and many other critics indignantly lamented the Best Picture loss for Brokeback Mountain (see awards article), while in contrast, Roger Ebert, the only major critic who supported Crash, defended its selection.

The "Ultimate Brokeback Forum" financed a full-page ad in the Daily Variety issue of 10 March 2006,[72] thanking the creators of Brokeback Mountain and listing its Best Picture awards.

Pop culture impact

  • Brokeback Mountain has been widely parodied in the U.S. (see Brokeback Mountain parodies).
  • The film also gave rise to using brokeback to mean gay or un-masculine.[73] Across broader society, brokeback is not a new word, but an elliptical phrase meaning Brokeback Mountain, e.g., "Brokeback shirts on eBay."
  • In the episode "Dead and Unburied" on NICS, Agent DiNozzo refers to watching the sunrise with Agent McGee as "very brokeback mountain."
  • Heath Ledger's casting as comic book villain the Joker in the newest Batman film and persistent rumors that insisted Jake Gyllenhaal was a front runner for the character of Harvey Dent caused some fans and film reporters to refer to film as BrokeBat Mountain. Coincidentally, Jake's sister Maggie was recently cast in the film. The Harvey Dent role has been filled by Aaron Eckhart.
  • In an episode of the British car fanatics' show Top Gear, the presenters Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson, and James May traveled to America. Because Richard traveled in a cowboy hat and shirt, he was nicknamed "Brokeback."
  • The film's title (and content) have also inspired the name of a starting hand in Texas Hold 'Em. Generally pocket kings are referred to by several names such as "King Kong," "Ace Magnets," and especially "Cowboys." Thus, many poker players have begun to refer to pocket kings as either "Brokeback" or "Brokeback Mountain."[citation needed]


Main article: Critical reception of Brokeback Mountain

The movie won 71 awards and had additional 52 nominations.[74] Most of the awards were in category for best film, director and screenplay. Some of the most significant awards and nominations for Brokeback Mountain are listed below. The film is one of several highly acclaimed LGBT-related movies of 2005 to be nominated for critical awards; the others are: Breakfast on Pluto, Capote, Rent, and Transamerica

Notable awards

  • 78th Academy Awards: Best Director (Ang Lee), Best Adapted Screenplay (Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana), Best Original Score (Gustavo Santaolalla)
  • 59th BAFTA Awards: Best Film (Diana Ossana and James Schamus), Best Supporting Actor (Jake Gyllenhaal), Best Director (Ang Lee), Best Adapted Screenplay (Larry McMurty and Diana Ossana)
  • Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards 2005: Best Picture (Diana Ossana and James Schamus), Best Director (Ang Lee), Best Supporting Actress--(Tie) (Michelle Williams), Best Original Song (Emmylou Harris, Gustavo Santaolalla, and Bernie Taupin, "A Love That Will Never Grow Old")
  • Directors Guild of America Awards: Director of the Year Award - Theatrical Motion Picture (Ang Lee)
  • European Film Awards: Best Director (Ang Lee)
  • GLAAD Media Awards: Outstanding Film - Wide Release (Ang Lee, Diana Ossana, and James Schamus)
  • 63rd Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture - Drama (Diana Ossana and James Schamus), Best Director - Motion Picture (Ang Lee), Best Screenplay (Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana), Best Song (Gustavo Santaolalla and Bernie Taupin, "A Love That Will Never Grow Old")
  • Independent Spirit Awards: Best Picture (Diana Ossana and James Schamus), Best Director (Ang Lee)[75]
  • MTV Movie Awards: Best Performance (Jake Gyllenhaal), Best Kiss (Heath Ledger & Jake Gyllenhaal)
  • Producer's Guild Awards: Producer of the Year Award - Theatrical Motion Picture (Diana Ossana and James Schamus)
  • Time Magazine: TIME 100: The People Who Shape Our World (2006) (Ang Lee)[76]
  • Venice International Film Festival: "Golden Lion" for Best Film (Ang Lee)
  • Writers Guild of America Awards: Best Adapted Screenplay (Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana)
  • National Gay Pride Association: Best Motion Picture (2006) (Diana Ossana and James Schamus)
  • Australian Film Institute award for Best actor in an International film Heath Ledger

Notable nominations

  • 78th Academy Awards: Best Picture (Focus Features: Diana Ossana and James Schamus), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Heath Ledger), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jake Gyllenhaal), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Michelle Williams), Best Cinematography (Rodrigo Prieto)
  • 59th BAFTA Awards: Best Actor (Heath Ledger), Best Supporting Actress (Michelle Williams), Best Cinematography (Rodrigo Prieto), Best Score (Gustavo Santaolalla), Best Editing (Geraldine Peroni and Dylan Tichenor)
  • Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards 2005: Best Actor Heath Ledger, Best Supporting Actor Jake Gyllenhaal, Best Writer (Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana)
  • European Film Awards: Screen International Award (Ang Lee)
  • 63rd Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama (Heath Ledger), Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture (Michelle Williams), Best Original Score (Gustavo Santaolalla)
  • 49th Grammy Awards: Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media (Gustavo Santaolalla, producer)
  • Independent Spirit Awards: Best Male Lead (Heath Ledger), Best Supporting Female (Michelle Williams)
  • Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (Heath Ledger), Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role (Jake Gyllenhaal), Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role (Michelle Williams), Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway, Randy Quaid, Linda Cardellini, Anna Faris) ..
  • Grammy Award Nominations: Best Soundtrack Compilation Album.

DVD release

This film is the first to be released the same day as both a DVD and a downloadable movie available via the Internet.[77]

It was released in the United States on April 4, 2006. The film moved more than 1.4 million copies on its first day of release and was the second biggest seller of the week behind Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.[78] Though the ranking fluctuates daily, by late March and early April 2006, Brokeback Mountain had been the top-selling DVD on several days running.[79] The Region 2 (Europe) DVD was released on April 24, 2006, though at first only in the UK. Other release dates are much later: France on July 19, 2006 and Poland in September, a considerable time after the theater release in both countries. The Region 4 (Australia/New Zealand/South America) DVD was released on July 25, 2006.[80] Brokeback Mountain was re-released in a collector's edition on January 23, 2007. On that same day, Brokeback Mountain was also released as a Combo Format HD-DVD/DVD.[81] Brokeback Mountain will be released on Blu-ray disc on September 30, 2007.[82]

See also

  • "Brokeback Mountain" short story: description of original/amended Proulx story.
  • Brokeback Mountain soundtrack: description of related soundtrack recordings.
  • Critical reception of Brokeback Mountain: awards and nominations the film received, and post-Oscar reaction.
  • Queer Cinema


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Further reading

  • Proulx, Annie (1997, 1999, 2006). Close Range:
  • Proulx, Annie; McMurtry, Larry; Ossana, Diana (2005, 2006). Brokeback Mountain: Story to the Screenplay. London, New York, Toronto and Sydney: Harper Perennial. Template:Auto isbn
  • Packard, Chris; (2006) Queer Cowboys : And Other Erotic Male Friendships in Nineteenth-Century American Literature. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-7597-3

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