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Is Brokeback Mountain A True Story?

Dheeraj is an avid movie lover, he loves to watch a lot of movies and recommends the best ones to his readers.


Brokeback Mountain (2005) is an American neo-western movie. The romantic drama was directed by Ang Lee. The film stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead roles along with Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams in the supporting roles. The movie is set in the year 1963 in the state of Wyoming, U.S.A, and follows a storyline of 20 years depicting a complicated love story between two American cowboys, Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar.

The movie was a commercial success and received global acclaim for the career-highlighting performances of Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger which also resulted in Academy Award Nominations for both of them. The movie was also nominated for the Oscars in the category of Best Picture but lost out to “Crash (2004)”. The film, however, managed to win the awards for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score.


The story starts in 1963 in the beautiful mountain range of Wyoming, U.S.A. It shows the life of two cowboys, Jack Twist played by Jake Gyllenhaal, and Ennis Del Mar played by Heath Ledger who are hired to take care of and herd sheep for the summer in the mountain grazing range. At first, they were stiff and hesitant to talk to each other but after some time, they unexpectedly build an intense emotional and sexual relationship. When the summer passes, they both come down from the mountains and say goodbye to each other, hoping to meet again. After returning to their homes, they reluctantly start their own families but as the years go by their marriages and love start falling apart.

Although the movie is slow-paced, it focuses in immense detail on the personalities of the characters while keeping the focus on the topic of homosexuality. The film also explores the cowboy culture with intricate details at that time, which has led many movie lovers to wonder if the story of Brokeback Mountain is based on actual events. Well, let’s see what actually was behind the idea of this story.


Is Brokeback Mountain Based on A True Story?

Well the short answer is ‘no’ the movie is not based on any true story or incidents but it was adapted from a short story written by Annie Proulx. The Story was first published in the New Yorker (an American weekly magazine) in 1997. It immediately garnered praise from readers and critics which resulted in Proulx winning the ‘National Magazine Award for Fiction' and many other acclaims. When asked about the origin of the story of the movie in December of that year, Prolux answered that "The story was not 'inspired,' but the result of years of subliminal observation and thought, eventually brought to the point of writing” in an interview with Planet Jackson Hole, a Wyoming-based outlet.

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Proulx also mentioned she wrote the story based on her own reflections about life in the West. Regarding the premise Proulx said “Rural North America, regional cultures, the images of an ideal and seemingly attainable world the characters cherish in their long views despite the rigid and difficult circumstances of their place and time interest me and are what I write about. I watch for the historical skew between what people have hoped for and who they thought they were and what befell them”


Among all the acclaim and awards, Ang Lee’s directed drama also raised some controversies after its release. In 2006 the movie was removed from some domestic theaters by their owners on the allegation that the contents of the movie have no resemblance to a traditional American family and show it will be ‘dangerous’. Though the dispute was later solved by direct communication with the production house and the cinema owners.


While the movie is a fictional story, it has always been a favorite of movie lovers throughout the years and it is still making a great impact on cinema up to this date as in fact, based on being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" the movie was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2018.

It is a great watch for every cinema lover and you should definitely watch it if you haven't already.

© 2022 Dheeraj Kashyap

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