AFI Movie Club: BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN – American Film Institute

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AFI Movie Club: BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, directed by Ang Lee and adapted by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry from an award-winning short story by Annie Proulx, was honored with an AFI AWARD in 2005 – recognizing it as one of the 10 outstanding films deemed culturally and artistically representative of the year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image. 

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BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN – Reelgood

Watch screenwriter Diana Ossana talk about discovering Annie Proulx’s short story, which she and Larry McMurtry would later adapt into the Academy Award®-winning film BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN in this AFI exclusive video:

Movie Trivia About BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

DID YOU KNOW? 

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx first published her short story “Brokeback Mountain,” on which the film is based, in The New Yorker in 1997. The story won a National Magazine Award, among other honors. 

DID YOU KNOW? 

Moved by author Annie Proulx’s ability to capture the pent-up emotions and powerful love story between cowboys Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist in “Brokeback Mountain,” screenwriters Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry optioned the short story from Proulx soon after it was published – using their own money, as opposed to seeking studio funding. 

DID YOU KNOW? 

Director Ang Lee originally turned down the project due to his commitment to HULK. With the film still unproduced after Lee had finished HULK, producer James Schamus approached Lee again to direct. Lee and Schamus had worked previously together on a number of projects, including CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON and THE ICE STORM. 

DID YOU KNOW?  

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN began shooting in May 2004 in Alberta, Canada, in locations including the Canadian Rockies, Cowley, Fort MacLeod and Calgary.  

DID YOU KNOW? 

Members of the Calgary Gay Rodeo Association served as advisors and consultants on BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and also appeared in several scenes. 

DID YOU KNOW? 

According to Anne Hathaway, when she was asked if she could ride a horse during her audition to play the rodeo queen wife of Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, she told director Ang Lee that she could. Hathaway later revealed she did not know how to ride a horse and learned specifically for the movie. 

DID YOU KNOW? 

According to Jake Gyllenhaal, he arrived a month before shooting started to go through cowboy training camp. Even though Heath Ledger also attended the camp, he didn’t need the training as he had grown up on farms in Australia. Director Ang Lee wanted the two leads to attend together in order to grow comfortable with each other and find their chemistry.  

DID YOU KNOW? 

In June 2008, the New York City Opera announced that it had commissioned composer Charles Wuorinen to write an opera based on Annie Proulx’s short story. The project was composed by Wuorinen with a libretto in English by Proulx. The opera “Brokeback Mountain” premiered on January 28, 2014 at the Teatro Real in Madrid, Spain.   

DID YOU KNOW? 

In 2006, the two iconic cowboy shirts used in the production of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN netted more than $100,000 for a charity auction. Gay rights activist Tom Gregory, who purchased the flannel shirts, describes them as not only an allegory for the relationship between the two lovers, but also a representation of the ongoing struggle by the LGBTQ community for acceptance within society. 

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.

 

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-How was BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN revolutionary at the time it was released, and why do you think it took so long for it to get made? 

-How does BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN fit into the Western genre? 

-Why does Jack hold Brokeback Mountain responsible for their passion? What was it about that summer that couldn’t be repeated? 

-Why doesn’t Ennis develop relationships with other men, while Jack does? 

-What do the characters’ assertion of their masculinity say about the world they live in and the dangers they face? How has the world changed since the time the film was set? 

-Do the two have any real choices when it comes to being together? Could they have found another path where they could have been together? 

-Since the release of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, has the cinematic landscape grown more inclusive of the LGBTQ community? How did the film have a social impact? 

-The film also addresses the crippling effect of “normative masculinity” on males and their relationships. How does the film expand the definition of stereotypical masculinity and also what it means to be a gay man in America? 

-Upon the film’s release, Ang Lee said, “Love is more complicated than our culture categorizes it. Everybody is a universe.” What do you think he meant by that? 

-In a hotly contested race, CRASH beat BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN at the 78th Academy Awards®. Why do you think BROKEBACK didn’t take home the evening’s top honor? Do you think it should have? 

-How would you rate BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN? 

New to AFI Movie Club? Want to learn more?

AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

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