Brokeback Mountain, a 2005 American romantic drama directed by Taiwanese film director, producer and screenwriter Ang Lee (born 1954), received a limited release in the United States on December 9th, 2005 after having premiered at the Venice Film Festival that year.
Adapted from a 1997 short story by Annie Proulx (born 1935) with Heath Ledger (1979-2008), Jake Gyllenhaal (born 1980), Anne Hathaway (born 1982) and Michelle Williams (born 1980), it depicts the very complex emotional and sexual relationship between two cowboys in the American West from the 1960s to the 1980s.
While the novel is actually set in the US state of Wyoming, for financial reasons Lee chose to shoot in the Canadian Rocky Mountains in the province of Alberta.
Grossing 178 million US dollars worldwide against a 14 million budget, Brokeback Mountain was commercially very successful, receiving critical acclaim for Lee’s direction and the actors’ performances.
In 1986, it won three Oscars for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score, four Golden Globes for Best Director, Best Motion Picture-Drama, Best Screenplay and Best Song, as well as four British Academy Awards for Best Film, Best Direction, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor.
However, after Brokeback Mountain lost the Academy Award for Best Picture to Crash, a crime drama about racial and social tensions in Los Angeles, some critics accused the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) of homophobia and for making a non-groundbreaking choice. Some people are just never satisfied!
The film opened in Taiwan on January 20th, 2006. As I enjoyed Lee’s former works like The Wedding Banquet (1993), Eat Drink Man Woman (1994), Sense and Sensibility (1995) as well as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and had tried very hard to erase the memory of The Hulk (2003), I went to see it with my local girlfriend and wasn’t disappointed, feeling quite touched.
Interestingly, after the showing we ran into a mixed gay couple from the neighborhood and they had very different opinions about what they had just seen: while the Taiwanese was full of criticism, his younger English partner praised it.
I can’t remember at all the details of their preferences, but later heard that they had split up-hopefully not because of this strong disagreement about a piece of art!
In Hong Kong it was a box office hit and the name of the motion picture became associated with homosexuality. In the former British Crown colony, “Brokeback Mountain circles” is now a slang term for the gay community.
For its distribution in the Spanish-speaking world, the film actually received two titles: Brokeback Mountain: En terreno vedado (In a forbidden terrain) for Spain and Secreto en la Montaña (Secret in the mountain) for Latin America.