Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Adaptation Week: Brokeback Mountain – the choices we make and those we don’t

Brokeback cover[*Warning: includes significant spoilers*]

I must admit I was delighted when Vulpes announced they were having a book/film adaptation week and that Brokeback Mountain was one of the subjects on offer. It’s a story I’ve loved for years, along with the whole of Annie Proulx’s original collection (Close Range: Wyoming stories), and I’d been singing its praises for a long time before Ang Lee even picked up his film script to begin – or whatever it is directors do first.

Let me put my cards on the table from the off and say that while I do love the film (it may actually be the best adaptation of a book since The English Patient), I think that the story in its original form is even better. There are things you can say in text that you can’t fully and deeply convey in a visual medium. I’m not sure, for instance, how on earth Mr Lee could ever have hoped to express the opening paragraph of Proulx’s story in film, a paragraph all but shimmering with memory, loneliness and loss:

Ennis Del Mar wakes before five, wind rocking the trailer, hissing in around the aluminium door and window frames. The shirts hanging on a nail shudder slightly in the draft. He gets up, scratching the grey wedge of belly and pubic hair, shuffles to the gas burner, pours leftover coffee in a chipped enamel pan; the flame swathes it in blue. He turns on the tap and urinates in the sink, pulls on his shirt and jeans, his worn boots, stamping the heels against the floor to get them full on. The wind booms down the curved length of trailer and under its roaring passage he can hear the scratching of fine gravel and sand. It could be bad on the highway with the horse trailer. He has to be packed and away from the place that morning. Again the ranch is on the market and they’ve shipped out the last of the horses, paid everyone off the day before, the owner saying, “Give em to the real estate shark, I’m out a here,” dropping the keys in Ennis’s hand. He might have to stay with his married daughter until he picks up another job, yet he is suffused with a sense of pleasure because Jack Twist was in his dream.

Really, it’s all there – all the aspects and themes of the story are contained in this paragraph, but the reader isn’t allowed to know the full meaning of them yet. It’s one of those astonishing paragraphs that are incredibly punchy to start with, but when you come back to them after you’ve finished the story they take on a whole new meaning: the shirts; the poverty of Ennis’ life; the transitory nature of the work he does; the choices he makes and doesn’t make; his difficult family situation; the way he saves the mention of Jack until the very end of his thought process; and how that opens out a whole baggage of painful emotions that both breaks through into and is contained by the physical facts of his life. Hard to get all that into film then, no matter how good the actor.

It’s also astonishing how Proulx managed to take the ultimate literary genre cliché of the gay cowboy and turn it into something rich and very human. Part of the way she does this is to meld the glorious description of the scenery with the emotions of the characters. Consider this passage where the two men are travelling down from the mountain back to their usual lives:

The mountain boiled with demonic energy, glazed with flickering broken-cloud light, the wind combed the grass and drew from the damaged krummholz and slit rock a bestial drone. As they descended the slope Ennis felt he was in a slow-motion, but headlong irreversible fall.

Here the landscape is almost completely overwhelming – a powerful entity under which no human can stand. The same is true of the very intense, almost obsessive love shared by Ennis and Jack, a love that separates them from their actual lives and also from those around them. Ennis says at one point:

“Shit. I been lookin at people on the street. This happen a other people? What the hell do they do?”

One of the many charms and strengths of this short story is the length of time – nearly twenty years – that the text encompasses. It’s quite rare in a short story for such a long time period to go by, and Proulx uses the landscape and the men’s relationship both as a binding factor and a driving force. Time is also used in the tale to create tension, especially the passing of time, and the accompanying sense of a rapidly approaching grief:

One thing never changed: the brilliant charge of their infrequent couplings was darkened by the sense of time flying, never enough time, never enough.

Set against this are the moments of joy Jack and Ennis share, particularly the long and half-asleep hug that takes place during their summer on Brokeback. Here we see Jack’s response to it years afterwards:

Later, that dozy embrace solidified in his memory as the single moment of artless, charmed happiness in their separate and difficult lives. Nothing marred it, even the knowledge that Ennis would not then embrace him face to face because he did not want to see nor feel that it was Jack he held. And maybe, he thought, they’d never got much farther than that. Let be, let be.

In the book, this scene carries a lot of power and the embrace lasts for a long time, while in the film it feels rather cut short – I do feel Lee could perhaps have made more of it at that point. However, this concept of time and its fluidity, as well as the contrast between deeply-held moments and the rapidity of life is something that the fiction writer can play with far more easily than the film-maker. Indeed it is fascinating to note that one of the major differences between the book and the film is that the book shifts its time period back and forth as the story is told, whereas in the film the timeline is largely linear. Perhaps it has to be. A film without a linear timeline is rather challenging to watch, though not impossible. However, the loss of the book’s rich time shifts has to be compensated for in the visual medium, and it is here that the film comes into its own: the mountains and meadows, the rocks, the grass, the skies knit their own voluptuous tapestry across the screen, as indeed does the music, – itself an essential part of the Brokeback viewing experience.

I have also to consider the end of the story. In the same way that I think the beginning of Proulx’s tale is far superior to the film version, it’s my opinion that so is the end of the written text far superior to that offered by the visual medium. In the film, Ennis stands, after his daughter has gone, and gazes at the two shirts that have come to mean so much more than the reader could know at the start. As he talks, he’s half crying and the shot then fades. It’s very powerful (though I’ve seen it before and know exactly what happens, I was still in tears), but here’s Proulx’s final scene:

And he (Ennis) would wake sometimes in grief, sometimes with the old sense of joy and release; the pillow sometimes wet, sometimes the sheets.

There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can’t fix it you’ve got to stand it.

We’re back to the beginning again, but all the reader’s sensibilities and understanding have utterly changed in response to this incredible journey of love, loss, grief, pain and supremely difficult choices that we have been on in the company of Ennis and Jack. Nothing is different but everything has changed. Impossible for any film to catch even a quarter of that kind of emotion.

That said, the film itself is a powerful entity and in some aspects I have to say it succeeds more effectively than does the book, opening out areas and deepening secondary characters that Proulx only chose to touch on. It is this I wish to turn to now.

As I’ve already mentioned, the film starts in a different place and we’re straight into Jack and Ennis’ first meeting at Joe Aguirre’s ranch office in 1963. As I watched it once more for this article, it struck me for the first time how powerful Lee’s use of silence is. Nobody talks for a long, long time and when someone does finally speak, it’s Aguirre, giving instructions as to how he wants his operation run.

For those of you who’ve read the book, it’s quickly apparent how much of the actual dialogue from the short story is used in the film script throughout. Lee has kept very close to the words Proulx used and the themes she has focused on and I can only admire him for that.

There are also some themes, however, that Lee explores more fully than Proulx. The lives of the two men apart from each other are seen in much more detail and the balance between Jack’s family life and Ennis’ one seems more well-matched. In the short story, for instance, we never see Jack’s wife, Lureen, directly, but in the film she becomes an interesting and ultimately moving character in her own right. It is Lureen who ensures that she and Jack somehow manage to motor through life with some sense of connection at key moments, which Ennis and Alma never do. Witness her subtle and delighted smile when Jack finally stands up to her bullying father during a Thanksgiving Dinner. And I love the way that Lureen’s telephone conversation with Ennis after Jack’s death reveals her loss and contained grief as she realises what Ennis has been to her husband – all this purely from the expression on her face and the tone of her voice. The words are the same as in Proulx’s book but the interpretation is vastly different; Proulx only shows us the conversation from Ennis’s side and as a result Lureen is seen as ultimately cold and unyielding. But in Lee’s version, Lureen’s final moment of compassion and generosity when she offers her husband’s lover the chance to bury his ashes is a tour-de-force of unexpected humanity and Anne Hathaway’s acting skill. This same sense of the humanity of women is found in the extended scene where Ennis visits Jack’s parents after his death. The whole scenario is thick with tension but the simple silent act of Jack’s mother in laying a comforting hand on Ennis’s shoulder when he’s unable to speak at all and, later, in putting the two shirts in a bag for his journey speaks volumes.

It’s interesting too how the Jack and Ennis reunion scene is filmed differently from the book. In the book, the scene takes place indoors, on the landing outside Ennis and Alma’s home during a storm, whereas in the film it’s outside in their yard and the weather is good. To be honest I don’t know the reason for the change, although it may have been considered that the storm motif symbolising destructive passion is too overworked in film. It also could have been decided that the outdoor sunshine was quieter and gave a sharper focus to what is going on between the two men. If so, that was probably a good decision – perhaps storms work better in books than on screen.

I also enjoyed the greater focus on the relationship between Ennis and his elder daughter, Alma Junior. There is a particularly touching scene not included in the book when as a child she asks to be able to live with him rather than her mother after their divorce. However, Ennis refuses, ostensibly due to his work commitments, although we know the real reason are his plans to see Jack. And to keep on seeing him. I found this particularly powerful and realistic – Ennis has to make an instant choice as to whether love or family is more important, and the choice he makes is right for him but wrong for his daughter.

Later it’s Alma Junior who brings some sense of light and hope to Ennis’s bleak and difficult life. In the penultimate scene of the film (again a scene not included in the book), Alma announces her impending marriage and once more asks her father to be part of her life on that occasion. Ennis mentions the demands of work, but then agrees to attend. Because of Jack’s absence, he’s finally able to come through for his daughter, and this move towards a more uplifting note gives an essential glimmer of hope that we can carry into the last scene, after Alma leaves, of Ennis talking briefly to the deceased Jack.

As I’ve already mentioned, another aspect of the film which is, by default, impossible for the book to include is the score. Written by Gustavo Santaolalla, an Argentinian composer, it won an Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2005 and deservedly so. I don’t actually think you notice the music when you’re watching the film. Because it suits the story and the scenery so well, it becomes part of the whole experience and I think it would be a significantly lesser film without it.

Finally, Proulx herself had very interesting things to say in a 2005 interview about the book and the film, and the reactions she’s had to both. It’s well worth a read. In any case, for me, both book and film demonstrate beyond all doubt the devastating power of choices in our lives – those made and not made. In this way it goes beyond a simple tale of two gay cowboys in the wild west and becomes a story that can speak to us all: about the choices we make, the people we leave behind; and those we cling to. It’s both a story and a film about how we live now.

The short story of Brokeback Mountain was published in Annie Proulx’s Close Range: Wyoming Stories in 1999 and can now be found in a multitude of formats.

The film of Brokeback Mountain was released in 2005 and is available on DVD.

[Anne has a soft spot for gay cowboys and Jake Gyllenhaal. Not necessarily in that order. To discover more about the choices she’s made and not made, please click here.]

About annebrooke

Anne Brooke’s fiction has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Novel Award, the Royal Literary Fund Awards and the Asham Award for Women Writers. She has also twice been the winner of the national DSJT Charitable Trust Open Poetry Competition. She is the author of nine published novels, including her free fantasy series, The Gathandrian Trilogy, featuring gay scribe Simon Hartstongue. More information on the trilogy is available at: www.gathandria.com. In addition, her gay and literary short stories are regularly published by Wilde City Press, Amber Allure Press and Untreed Reads. All her gay fiction can be found at: www.gayreads.co.uk. Anne has a secret passion for theatre and chocolate, preferably at the same time, and is currently working on a fantasy novel, The Wilderness Room. More information can be found at www.annebrooke.com.

28 comments on “Adaptation Week: Brokeback Mountain – the choices we make and those we don’t

  1. Lisa
    July 23, 2009

    I found myself agreeing with much of what you say here, Anne. I read the short story before I saw the film, and although I thought the film was excellent, the short story was INCREDIBLE and it has stayed with me even more vividly than the film.

    I reviewed Close Range here:

    http://vulpeslibris.wordpress.com/2008/09/06/close-range-wyoming-stories-by-annie-proulx/

    Brokeback Mountain is probably the most powerful story I have read – I have certainly never been more ‘moved’ by a piece of fiction. I would likely have loved the film more if I hadn’t been such a fan of the short story. But I don’t think any film could have quite lived up to my high expectations. There were some wonderful performances in the film though. Heath Ledger was particularly fantastic.

    Thanks for linking to that interview with Annie Proulx. Fascinating.

    Fabulous piece, Anne!

  2. annebrooke
    July 23, 2009

    Thanks, Lisa! And apologies about not linking to the previous article – I should have done indeed, especially as I did comment on it originally!! Doh! Honestly, you can’t get the staff …

    That short story is indeed such a wonderful piece of fiction.
    :)

    Axxx

  3. Jase
    July 23, 2009

    Both the book and the film are amazing, it’s a wonderful and intense story, passion, love, life, death, desire, longing, need, fulfillment, dreams and realities are all there, all clear and all heartfelt. I can not admit to having dry eyes when watching the film or reading the book, which is the greatest gift a writer and and director can give their audience.

    This is a wonderful article, so well balanced and so good, reminded me of parts I’d forgotten, or not noticed like the reunion scene’s differences on page and film. Thanks.

  4. rosyb
    July 23, 2009

    This is a wonderful wonderful piece, Anne. I quite fancied writing about Brokeback myself for this week but you have far surpassed what I could have done. I am going to have to come back to this, it is so thought-provoking.

    I love Ang Lee – I think his films are incredibly beautiful and he uses the landscape to reflect emotion in a unique way. I very much like The Ice Storm, also, which you never hear so much about.

    I saw the film first and thought it very moving and powerful. Then Lisa sent me the story and I have to agree that – unusually for me – the story was even more moving and powerful, although a little unbearably so. I did think that Heath Ledger’s performance was extraordinary and the way he aged so subtle. But the Ennis of the story is such a huge well of a character (although practically silent) that I suppose this is where the story really is quite extraordinary. For me, Gyllenhaal (who is also a good actor) was not quite so successful. The Jack of the book seemed to have something extra and actually carries a lot of the poignancy as he was not only dealing with society rejecting them, but Ennis, to some extent, also rejecting them. This was touched on in the film – but seemed much stronger in the story and Jack’s growing frustration and also that he – in a way – abandons Ennis finally before the tragic ending. This, I felt, was brave of Proulx. It was all there in the film, but I felt the tragedy of the book, to some extent, was the tragedy of Ennis and his own attitudes to the situation in which he found himself and this was a very powerful theme.

    The women, though, I think you are spot on as I hadn’t thought about it properly – were more moving in the film and – as a woman – I did feel that the book almost sidelined the difficulties they faced in such a situation. Perhaps because it is largely from Ennis’s POV. Both actresses managed to bring something to the parts that was extra to the book.

    There was something a little odd about the scene with the parents in the book. Some tiny differences of emphasis. Perhaps because this was to do with Jack’s own abandonment of Ennis. Which is a tricky issue.

    I would also like to say that the sex scene in the film was very like the book and brave in the climate and context of Hollywood. I think it was very well-done. The whole film was brave to stick so closely to the story and be so unschmaltzy and pared down in a context that might have forced them to play it down too much, or to romanticise it too much. I also felt that Ennis’s less than lovely treatment of his wife was brave for Hollywood too – where they want their heroes to all be perfect and lovable. Whatever about the story: the film is a great film and stands alone also.

    I’ll have to come back to this as – you know me – I won’t be able to shut up for long. But great piece. And a strangely moving one to read too.

  5. Moira
    July 23, 2009

    Hell Anne. I’m really glad I wrote my piece yesterday before I read yours today – otherwise I’d have been suffering from severe performance anxiety.

    Beautifully written, deeply thought and felt … just magnificent.

  6. Jackie
    July 23, 2009

    Rosy has said it so much better than I could, touching on many of the same feelings I had. But I have to join in with the praise of this piece, it was both logical & emotional, as well as very, very good.

  7. Julia Smith
    July 24, 2009

    I’m much more of a film person than a book person, so adaptations of stories don’t engage me in the compare-and-contrast cycle. The book is the book, the film is the film. I take each on their own merit.

    The scene with Heath Ledger embracing the shirt in the film is so moving, I don’t need to know anything else about it. I definitely tend to read a book after seeing the film, if I read it at all. I prefer cinematography, actors’ voices, music soundtracks and amazing editing to give me the subtleties I crave.

  8. annebrooke
    July 24, 2009

    Thanks so much, all – glad you enjoyed the article. I thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing it!

    And I do agree, Julia – the film and the book do indeed have their own separate artistic lives – which is marvellous to see too.
    :)

    Axxx

  9. Marcia
    July 24, 2009

    Very good essay, though I do hope that if anyone sees the movie as a result of reading it, they won’t indulge in this manufactured “competition” between the story and movie.

    Frankly, though I liked the story and the movie obviously wouldn’t exist without it, the movie made a huge impact on me that the story did not. If I’d read the story first I doubt I would have bothered to see it.

    This isn’t to denigrate the story, but the film deserves to be respected in its own right.

  10. annebrooke
    July 24, 2009

    Many thanks, Marcia. Interesting to read your reactions to the film and book also, and I do agree with you and Julia that each medium should be respected for its own unique values.

    Apologies however if my article made it sound like a competition – not at all what I intended, believe me. But I did find it interesting, like yourself, to compare the two.

    All good wishes!

    Axxx

  11. Lee
    July 24, 2009

    Anne, I enjoyed reading your essay very much. I also read the story first, in The New Yorker, when it was published, and was planning to not go to the movie when it came out, because I thought it would ruin the story for me. Was I ever wrong! You bring up some interesting points here and I thank you for keeping scholarship of Brokeback Mountain alive. One small quibble: gay cowboys a cliche? Yes, cowboys in general have become a cliche, but gay ones?

  12. annebrooke
    July 24, 2009

    Thanks, Lee! And I do know what you mean about the film – I had doubts about how it would work out on screen too – but am so glad I decided to see it in the end.

    It’s interesting too about the view of gay cowboys – it’s a much used and very popular genre within the GLBT book world, but of course that world is very small and almost self-contained – so perhaps it’s a cliche within it and not outside it, yet?? I don’t really know – am still pondering that one …
    :)

    Axxx

  13. Marcia
    July 24, 2009

    “Many thanks, Marcia. Interesting to read your reactions to the film and book also, and I do agree with you and Julia that each medium should be respected for its own unique values.”

    That was my one quibble, but I’m very impressed with the essay!

  14. Marie
    July 24, 2009

    Anne, thanks so much for your eloquent and thoughtful essay! I read the short story years before I saw the film and fell in love with it and Jack and Ennis. I was almost hesitant to see the film, but any of my fears that I would be disappointed were immediately put to rest when I saw Ennis, through Heath, jump down from that truck. I appreciate both works and believe they each represent the very best of their medium.

    “It’s one of those astonishing paragraphs that are incredibly punchy to start with, but when you come back to them after you’ve finished the story they take on a whole new meaning…”

    So well-stated. I couldn’t agree more! And thank you, also, for mentioning the score. Having viewed the film so many times now, I’m able to focus in on different aspects, and I agree that the score blended perfectly and naturally with the whole experience. Thanks again.

  15. annebrooke
    July 24, 2009

    Many thanks, Marie – and Marcia too!

    Yes, you’re so right – both Heath & Jake were superb in bringing those two men to life in the film. I now reread the book and see them – which is probably a whole other aspect of the relationship between the two mediums as well.

    Axxx

  16. foreverinawe
    July 27, 2009

    Hi Anne,

    Movie reviews in early 2006 were my introduction to Brokeback Mountain, although the movie itself didn’t come to my town until several weeks later. In the interim, I found the New Yorker issue in the local college library, and read the story. A few weeks later, I saw the movie, bought the book, saw the movie, re-read the book… you get the idea.

    I don’t need to tell this venue that they are both masterpieces, and form a kind of literary symbiosis; when there is a gap in my understanding of one, I can almost always fill it in by digging in the other. Where they have actual incompatibilities, it ultimately isn’t important, because each stands on its own merit.

    I am not a Vulpes Libris, although I certainly envy those who are. I do dabble with videos, and recent events inspired me to put this one together. I write to invite you (pl) to watch my little video which I put on Youtube.

    Do you remember when the stageplay Les Miz began?

    I do and I don’t. I live in Tennessee, a long way from Broadway: I have never been there. But of course I heard the music via TV and radio, so I did become familiar with the songs as time went by. I just wasn’t aware of when it started. And time, of course, has dimmed my memory even of the songs.

    Enter Susan Boyle. The world, it seemed, was bowled over by her.

    Me too, but not because of Susan, although I think she is a treasure. It was because of “I Dreamed A Dream”, which I had forgotten, and Brokeback Mountain, which I will never forget. I was awed by how well they go together, as easily as the right key turns the lock tumblers, as someone said.

    In my mind, these two disparate masterpieces cried out to be united, and so that’s what I did. I tried to tell Ennis’s story, post Jack. (Pardon my lack of narration skills, but I just couldn’t find anyone else who would volunteer.)

    Disappointingly, Youtube’s sound track does not keep up with the video, and there is a lot of starting and stopping as the buffer keeps running out. If one is willing to let the entire video download to the buffer before starting Play (about six minutes), it plays properly.

    Here’s the Youtube link (hit Pause, then let the buffer fill completely before hitting Play!)

    This is not about pretty faces or happy trysts. It is how I think Annie saw the story, certainly how I see it, all told with the movie’s images and the pathos of Les Miz.

    ~~~foreverinawe

    PS The link doesn’t seem to want to be a hyperlink; you may have to cut and paste

  17. annebrooke
    July 27, 2009

    Many thanks, FIA – it is interesting indeed to see how the different versions of Brokeback have both inspired a variety of responses and connected in with other equally important issues.

    Nice also to be reminded of that great lock/tumbler line – I’d forgotten that one!

    All good wishes

    Anne B

  18. BayCityJohn
    July 28, 2009

    Wonderful essay Anne. Thank you.

    You’re right about the score. I hardly noticed it the first time I saw the film. That’s as it should be.

    The book, the film, and the score have not only inspired a variety of responses, they have also inspired new works of art.

    I’d like to share one of those new works here.

    MEET ME ON THE MOUNTAIN is the latest link in a chain of inspiration that began with Annie Proulx’s brilliant short story “Brokeback Mountain.” Adapted by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry into an Oscar-winning screenplay, the story was brought to the screen by director Ang Lee and into the hearts of millions through the deeply affecting performances he coaxed from the film’s stellar cast — most notably Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, and Anne Hathaway.

    Says songwriter Shawn Kirchner: “‘Brokeback Mountain’ made a huge impact on me, both personally and artistically. I’ve heard many people say they felt similarly to me: for days afterward I couldn’t shake the feeling the film left me with. I felt like I wanted to respond, but out of respect, I didn’t want to touch it — since the film was such a complete expression in itself. After some attempts at writing lyrics to the soundtrack’s beautiful theme, a wise friend said ‘You know, you’re going to have to write your own music.’ Once I got started, the songs just kept coming….”

    The song and album are not an attempt to re-score the film or to change the story in any way. They are original pieces and stand on their own. You could easily enjoy the music without any knowledge of Brokeback Mountain.

    Here’s the Youtube of Meet Me on the Mountain:

  19. annebrooke
    July 28, 2009

    Thanks, BCJ! It is amazing to see what an influence BBM has had and is still having, and rightly so. Many thanks for sharing this with us.
    :)

    Anne B

  20. Alison Priest
    July 28, 2009

    I wept buckets over the short story, but the movie didn’t quite have the same effect. I never really got over the fact that Ennis had a rather nice pair of blue socks in the film…

  21. Anne Brooke
    July 28, 2009

    Really, Alison? Gosh, I didn’t notice that – perhaps I’m just used to blue socks!! I shall have to rush back to my DVD and stare at Ennis’ feet now …
    :)

    Axxx

  22. Alison Priest
    July 29, 2009

    …the point being that in the book he was too poor to have any socks at all.

  23. annebrooke
    July 29, 2009

    Aha! Well, that makes sense – I hadn’t picked up on that one though …

    Axxx

  24. Pingback: Canongate Brokeback article, parties and murder « Anne Brooke’s Weblog

  25. Scarlet Blackwell
    November 1, 2009

    I really enjoyed reading this article about what is possibly my favourite film of all time. I watch it at infrequent intervals because I always sob like a baby without exception at the end. I liked the comparisons between the book and film and the lovely in-depth dissection and one day I will get around to reading the story, which has sat on my shelf since I first saw the film ;-) A lovely article.

  26. annebrooke
    November 1, 2009

    Thanks so much, Scarlet – it’s definitely my favourite film too! Glad I’m not the only one sobbing at the end … And I do recommend the story – equally good!
    :)

    Axxx

  27. Philip Smith
    February 10, 2010

    I agreed what the author of the article mentioned. Ang Lee had done an excellent job of transported the short story into a movie version. Beautiful screenplay wrote by Larry & Diana from the orginal author Annie Proulx. Wonderful acting by both 2 leads Heath & Jake.

    When watching this movie I don’t see gayness but all I’m seeing is two human souls are deeply in love with each other. Actually I never read the short story before not until I’ve seen the movie first and then I read the book later.

    My one and only big disappointment is that the character Ennis were more open towards Jack in the short story than in the movie. Also in the short story there were a lot more of sex scenes in the novel than from what the movie shown. I guess that Ang Lee decided not to add anymore sex scenes for Heath & Jake’s sake, since….you know….they’re straight actors. It was very brave both of them to took the courage and actually accepted the challenge role(Ennis & Jake), I bet it was diffcult for the actors to act. Ang Lee did a great job of it in creating the beautiful mountain scenes.

    After the movie was over I was like “this is what love is”. I could say that this tragic love story-plot is similar to Titanic, Gone with the Wind, or Romeo & Juliet movie. If it were have been about a heterocouple(male & female) then this could be another Titanic or Gone with the Wind movie so to speak. It’s funny how I, sometimes, called this one is the queer Titanic or something. Don’t misunderstand me, I liked this movie, is just its tragic love story-line similars to Titanic, that’s all.

  28. annebrooke
    February 10, 2010

    Many thanks for the comments, Philip – much appreciated! The actors certainly did a marvellous job in the film. And you’re absolutely right in saying it’s a story with universal themes, in both versions.
    :)

    Anne B

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This entry was posted on July 23, 2009 by in Entries by Anne, Fiction, Fiction: literary, Fiction: romance, Fiction: short stories, Theme weeks and tagged .

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Acknowledgment

  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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