I was obsessed with movies in the 2000s. It was that nascent period where people are first discovering themselves. Some use that time productively, some use it to get into trouble. I used it to watch way too many movies. I eagerly awaited the release of Brokeback Mountain. I was a fan of Heath Ledger, but I loved Ang Lee. The Wedding Banquet and Eat Drink Man Woman are two of my favorite movies.
I had never read the short story upon which it was based, but I was aware of Annie Proulx through The Shipping News, which I had bought with the intention of reading in advance of the movie’s release, but could never get more than a few pages into. I didn’t much care for the movie either, though.
But Ang Lee! And Heath Ledger!
My girlfriend and I went to see it on opening weekend, and I cried in the theater. It was heart-rending and beautiful. I’ve always been drawn to tragic, unrequited romance – and this movie was the perfect embodiment to me. I’ve seen it a few times since, and it’s never failed to move me. The score is beautiful, the acting is top notch, and the direction is sublime. That Crash won best picture was the final nail in the coffin of my interest in the Academy Awards. I’d seen every Best Picture winner between 1969 and 2005 (and wouldn’t miss another one until 2014’s Birdman), and saw most of the nominees as well, and I had seen every ceremony since 1995 – but I would never watch another one. Eventually, my love for movies waned (especially after starting a family and not having the time to watch them anymore), but my love for Brokeback Mountain has never diminished.
I was browsing Amazon Unlimited the other day and saw this story on there. There was no reason to not read the story that inspired one of my favorite movies.
And, it turned out being exactly what I expected it to be. It’s a short story, and the movie was authentic to it’s source.
I didn’t particularly like Proulx’s writing style. It’s clipped, and perfunctory. But the characters she created were so fleshed out while being so sparsely drawn. It was a marvelous economy in writing: she did so much with so little. She hints at deeper things, and much of the story is shadows on the souls of Jack and Ennis.
Maybe I’m still being impacted by the brilliant characterization in Lonesome Dove, but that’s the thing that really stood out to me, here. I felt like she found two souls on these pages.