Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


Old comments migrated to Disqus, currently working outtechnical issues

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Brokeback Mountain

Amy Welborn links to two worthwhile reviews. Steven Greydanus says that the movie is somewhere between two noted leftist-friendly films, one that "insist[ed] on hearing the case for the opposite point of view," and one "work of uncomplicated agitprop":

Brokeback Mountain isn’t as exquisitely even-handed as Dead Man Walking, but it keeps the cards sufficiently mixed to feel far more honest than The Magdalene Sisters.

He is particularly disturbed, however, by the demonization of men and masculinity:

In the end, in its easygoing, nonpolemical way, Brokeback Mountain is nothing less than a critique not just of heterosexism but of masculinity itself. It’s a jaundiced portrait of maleness in crisis — a crisis extending not only to the sexual identities of the two central characters, but also to the validity of manhood as exemplified by every other male character in the film. It may be the most profoundly anti-western western ever made, not only post-modern and post-heroic, but post-Christian and post-human.

One wonders if author Annie Proulx is one of those stereotypical embittered man-hating radical feminists - assuming this element is present in the original short story.

Victor Morton notices something in the film that a lot of other people missed: the homosexual relationship portrayed in Brokeback "was portrayed as a destructive force of nature."

Now ... I'm not going to oversell BROKEBACK on these grounds. It's definitely not a Christian work, and one should approach it with caution. But if this story were about an illegitimate lisison between a married man and a married woman, maybe it would be far easier to see how comfortably BROKEBACK fits into the traditions and templates of romantic tragedy, and so (and this is what I care about here) not leap to conclusions about what the film is supposedly "endorsing." It'd be easier, in some quarters, to see that its low-key elegiac tone and its bittersweet ambivalence about an impossible love come straight out of BRIEF ENCOUNTER or THE AGE OF INNOCENCE. But the essence of tragedy is that every option be costly.

A film about a destructive adulterous affair is uplifting if one can regard the wives and children as acceptable collateral damage. Unfortunately, many viewers are so callous.

Site Meter