The Brokeback Mountain film, directed by Ang Lee and produced by James Schamus and Diana Ossana, got released in 2005 as a Neo-Western romantic drama film. The film is adapted from the story ‘Brokeback Mountain’ written by Annie Proulx. It navigates around Ennis and Jack, two shepherds who instigate an emotional and sexual relationship. The film is set in 1963, whereby Joe Aguire hires the two to work as sheepherders in Wyoming. Unexpected circumstances forced them to develop intimate relationships little by little, and soon they were in love. The film portrays a gay relationship that is witnessed between Jack and Ennis. Their relationship gets complicated when each gets married to their girlfriend. For 20 years, both Ennis and Jack maintain their sporadic and tortured affair despite each being already married. The connection is first noticed when Jack shows his affection when drunk, and Ennis reciprocates it. Brokeback Mountain is the setting of this occurrence and thus why the film is titled in recognition. Here, the romance witnessed in the whole film first emerged and grew.
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The film begins on Wyoming’s Farm in 1963, where both Jack and Ennis meet as they look for work at Joe Aguirre’s farm. At first, they only stare at each other without uttering a word since they are new and do not know each other. When Joe arrives, he asks if they are looking for work, then begins by stating his requirements and needs for the work being given. After getting hired, they leave and head to a nearby pub to drink and enjoy their success in acquiring jobs. As they drink, they engage in conversations about their past. Both Jack and Ennis look young and still in their teenage years. Ennis states that his parents died when he was young, leaving him under the care of his older siblings. Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar are well acquainted with rough living and hard work; they are also high school dropouts. After the talk, they go to the farm to officially start their career, and Brokeback Mountain becomes the film’s new setting. Here, many sheep that need to be herded are grazing on the pastures. Before nightfall, they prepared where they were to spend their night and where to lit a fire.
The following day, the two prepare breakfast as they communicate about the previous night’s happenings. Jack makes a pass at Ennis after they engage themselves in heavy drinking. Despite Ennis being reluctant, he finally submits and engages in sex in their tent. Afterward, Ennis claims it was only a one-time incident. However, the act made them develop emotional and sexual attachments. They later exchange fists that left them bloodied before partying ways. After some time, Ennis gets married to Alma, his longtime fiancée, and conceives two children. Next summer, Jack returns seeking work, but Aguire informs him there is no work, for he was not willing to hire him after witnessing the fight with Ennis at Brokeback Mountain. Since there is no work, Twist decides to go to Texas, where he marries Lureen Newsome, a rodeo rider, and conceives a boy. After four years, Jack meets Ennis, and they kiss passionately as Alma witnesses the act without them knowing. Jack finally suggests the two create a life together, but Ennis refuses as he is not ready to abandon his family.
Additionally, he fears what might happen to them when their secret is revealed. Alma confronts Ennis because of the kiss with Jack. As a result, they part ways, and Ennis decides to date another girl in a short-term relationship. Ennis and Jack go on a fishing trip which ends in disappointment. Jack is informed that they can only meet again in November because of work staff. Jack embraces Ennis, who is seen crying after blaming each other for their impossibility to be together. After some years, Ennis gets information that Jack is dead; after receiving a postcard, he had sent returned and stamped ‘deceased,’ forcing him to call Laureen for clarity.
The description of the tire exploding and killing Jack made Ennis visualize it as a very cruel murder. He is also informed that Jack wished his ash to be scattered on Brokeback Mountain upon his demise. Ennis goes to Jack’s parents to fulfill the wish his lover wants. However, the father refuses and insists the ashes will be preserved in a family plot. Ennis has no other option but to accept. He then goes to Jack’s bedroom, where he finds the shirts they wore during their brawl. Inhaling air deeply while holding them to his face, Ennis weeps silently. The mother, Jack, then allows him to keep the shirts as a symbol of remembrance.
Towards the end, Alma Junior, a 19-year-old daughter of Ennis, arrives at his trailer and informs him that she is engaged. She invites his father to the wedding and asks for his blessings. After hesitation, Ennis agrees to attend. Immediately after she leaves, Ennis goes to the closet where he had previously hung the two shirts close together; one tacked to the other with his shirt now being outermost. A postcard of Brokeback Mountain is stapled to the closet door just next to the shirts. Ennis stares at the souvenir and breaks into tears. The film thus comes to an end after its dramatic occurrences within.
It can be classified as a melodrama because of the exaggerated emotional appeals between Ennis and Jack. Constantly they disagree and fight but still get together in dynamic scenes. One remarkable occurrence was when they kissed after being away from each other for close to four years. Several events occur after Ennis and Twist spend time away from each other, just as in William’s ‘Something Else Besides a Mother: Stella Dallas and the Maternal Melodrama. The classic narrative film by William is between a mother and daughter. A woman views the melodrama here despite the typical desire to embrace the economic prosperity of a mother-daughter possession and dispossession.
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Mise-en-scene is the arrangement of actors and the setting of the scenes within a film. In Brokeback Mountain film, this element makes melodrama recognizable by setting up scenes whereby romance and emotional affection are openly shown. Mise-en-scene can create a sense of place through actors, location, set design, lighting, shot-blocking and camera placement, composition, depth of space, film stock, costumes, and hair and makeup. To navigate this element towards success, the director steers it with the help of several other personnel. That is why additional individuals act as production designers, visual effects supervisors, makeup artists, and location managers in the film. Therefore, melodrama can be incorporated within the film’s scenes in situations where family issues, morality, love, and marriage face challenges from an outside source.
In the movie Brokeback Mountain, problems in the marriages of both Ennis and Jack are caused by their inability to control their emotional appeals. Since they are in love and are not ready to express their feelings publicly, what they do in secret is revealed. Alma witnesses them kissing passionately, forcing her to part ways with Ennis. In the film, melodrama is accompanied by suggestive music, which guides us in foretelling the scene to be witnessed shortly. For example, the setting of the scenes, Brokeback Mountain, and the tent enhance melodrama. Dialogue between the main characters in this setting directs the film’s plot towards realizing crises in human emotions, tragedy, emotional hardships, and failed friendship or romance.
Narrative structure within the film defines the structural framework followed, which includes the plot and the storyline. The action, the story, and the plot make up the narrative structure. The film is recognized as a melodrama based on the plot and story it follows. There is an exaggeration of characters and plot elements to appeal to the viewers’ emotions. Key features that steer the film to being a melodrama include moral polarization, heightened emotions, narrative structure, and emphasis on violence and actions within the plot and scenes of the movie. The film can be categorized as a domestic melodrama as it portrays serious subject matters like romantic themes, illegitimacy, and adultery. As seen, the film’s storyline revolves around the love of Jack and Ennis, which is not only a friendship love but more than that. Emotional expressions like kissing and engaging in sex acts set the storyline and enable us to understand what the film is all about. The film engages stereotypical characters who never develop but remain the same throughout the film’s plot. Three major plot elements that enhance our stand on the melodrama film include provocation, pangs, and the penalty at the end. All this is relevant and possible because of the film’s narrative structure.
The sound element in the film and Linda William’s work can be seen to have a significant influence in categorizing the two as melodramas. Sound design is the final and most crucial element in creating a hypnotic experience for the audience. With it, the film’s visuals are backed up, thus holding up high weight. The film enhances the mood, tone, and atmosphere by introducing specific sound designs in each scene depending on the plot. Melodrama is thus achieved, thereby categorizing the film under this sub-genre seems ideal. When Ennis receives the news that Jack is dead, the sound effects enable us to understand sadness. His emotions are exaggerated when he cries and sniffs on the blood shirts he has collected. The two shirts were preserved from the last violent encounter in Brokeback Mountain.
Intense sound play is accompanied when the two come in contact after several years. They express their emotions by kissing passionately as the sound effect accompanies the act in the background. Melodrama is extensively witnessed in this scene. On the other hand, in William’s work, Val portrays melodrama by publicly expressing her strong emotions towards the marriage of a daughter, as seen in the last scene of Stella Dallas. The statement has exclamation marks at the beginning, indicating solid emotional contemplation. However, the emotion is exaggerated, thus bringing the element of sound, which helps us identify it as a melodrama. In the Brokeback Mountain film, the visual of the movie is enhanced by sound design. Through the sound design, we can understand the violence and emotional occurrences in the movie, thereby helping in understanding why it is a melodrama.