First, I applaud the movie for daring to tell a story that nobody else presumed creating. Even in 2005, this was a pretty prohibited thing to discuss. To its credit, the movie follows the original story fairly close, but the details were left out that made all the difference.
The short story Brokeback Mountain (1997) written by Annie Proulx received a lot of attention when it was first published in the New Yorker. The story is about the relationship between Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar, two cowboys who develop a forbidden love for each other and have to live separate lives. They first meet when they both get hired to herd sheep on Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming. The movie adaptations by the director Ang Lee came out in 2005. And it received Oscar Awards for Best Director, Best Original Score, and Best Adapted Screenplay. The characters Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar are played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger. The purpose of this essay is to show the difference between the short story and the film by comparing the characters Jack and Ennis, their relationship, and their relationship with their wives. In the short story, both Jack and Ennis are portrayed as hard, muscular, and tough cowboys, who are very manly. “They were raised on small, poor ranches in opposite corners of the state, Jack Twist in Lightning Flat, upon the Montana border, Ennis Del Mar from around Sage, near the Utah line, both high-school drop-out country boys with no prospects, brought up to hard work and privation, both rough-mannered, rough-spoken, inured to the stoic life.” In the movie, they are still manly but slightly more refined and softer in both personality and looks. Ennis is more well portrayed in the short-story than Jack and vice versa in the movie. In the movie, for example, you get to see Jack in Mexico, which is only mentioned in the short story.
In the short-story, their relationship is more detailed and their love evolves slower compared to the movie, where they find each other very quickly in the same tent-making love. In the story, we see very clearly that Ennis and Jack really do love each other. They actually talk about it, how much better this is than with any woman. It shows the close, it shows them getting personal, even discussing the possibility of running away together. The movie did not describe the emotional intimacy Jack and Ennis shared even before they had sex. Ennis’s emotional transformation in Jack’s company appears in the book with the line, “Ennis, riding against the wind back to the sheep in the treacherous, drunken light, thought he’d never had such a good time, felt he could paw the white out of the moon.” The deep friendship does not reveal in the movie, the way the book does, which was the foundation for their love. (Walford, Compare/contrast the book vs. the movie, Ennisjack, 2006)
Alma take a quite big part in the short-story, because of Ennis and his importance. As I mentioned before, Ennis is more well portrayed than Jack and this makes Ennis and Alma’s relationship more evident. “In December Ennis married Alma Beers and had her pregnant by mid-January.” This shows how Alma is mentioned only because of Ennis. Whereas Jack and Laureen’s relationship in the short-story is insignificant and unutterable. “I got a boy, said Jack. Eight months old. Tell you what, I married a cute little old Texas girl down in Childress – Laureen.” This is the only time Jack mention Laureen, the others are Ennis trying to make him remember her. “You got your baby and wife, that place in Texas.” In the film, we get the opportunity to experience when and where Jack and Laureen met for the first time, how they live, and how their child looks like. They are equally important as Ennis and Alma in the film and I believe it makes the story more interesting since the connection between husband and wife has a big influence on them as humans.
The movie tried hard to adapt the story into a personal drama, and it could have worked magnificently if the film had not left out the most important parts. The parts where Ennis and Jack’s friendship grew into something more and not just sexually, but emotionally. I wanted to see them connecting on a personal level as they did in the short story. The movie though created a good bond between husband and wife and it made the story interesting and ground-breaking. For me, it was sometimes new, to see how the women live with their man, who they knew was gay. It is an inspiring story to read and tell, especially in our society, where alienation is very common. The story was made to make a revolt, to tell a story that nobody else dared to tell. And even though the movie had its flaws, it is still a good way to present the scary, but the beautiful world we are living in. And again, bravo to the movie for even attempting it, but as I said before the original story does a better job showing that these two men really do love each other.
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