Despite all the hoopla, this is really a good film that does the rancher/cowboy genre proud.
It would have been nice to have gotten a commentary track on this DVD from some of the actors.
The most interesting thing about this movie from my vantage is not the fact that it looks at gay cowboys (which truthfully is probably the least interesting part of this movie), but the fact that Ang Lee made one of the richest, American looking movies in recent years (who cares if it was shot in Canada, right?). In fact, I think very few films in recent memory have done such a good job of melding picturesque images, with somber guitar strains and in turn evoked such emotion. Brokeback Mountain, despite what some people may or may not want to say about the subject matter, is one of the richest films to have come out last year. This tale of two men who forge a bond over the course of many years is really something special. At it's heart it is a tale of love that while maybe the entire country didn't wholeheartedly embrace, it at least let it be known that it was there and it was telling this kind of story.
If for no other reason, Brokeback Mountain deserves a tremendous amount of respect.
"Sharing the Story: The Making of Brokeback Mountain"
This is a typical "making of" featurette in which we hear the oft told tale of how this small story became a big screen film. While nothing is on here that I didn't expect, I especially liked hearing from the creative people behind this piece as they dissected their roles on and within this film.
"Directing From the Heart: Ang Lee"
A featurette that looks at Ang Lee as a director. Over the years he has shown himself to be someone who can deliver big films with a certain personal sensibility. While I think the Hulk was a pretty large misstep, I think that Lee has had enough successes that it could at least be seen as a respectable failure. I think it is his "personal sensibility" that allowed him to so deftly handle the material of Brokeback Mountain.
"On Being A Cowboy" featurette
Due to time purposes, I was only able to glance at this featurette that seems to examine being a cowboy. It looked at the life a cowboy lives and everything that goes along with that. Since Brokeback Mountain isn't a movie that examines anything in a conventional way, this featurette didn't seem to do that either.
From Script to Screen
For my tastes, this segment was very interesting. I love writing. I love the creative process that happens when ideas are translated to the page and eventually the screen. This featurette gives us interviews with Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, the people who took the short story by Annie Proulx and crafted the screenplay for the film. While not as in-depth as I might like, this was still very enjoyable and enlightening to watch.
1.85:1 - Aspect Ratio. I saw this movie on the big screen in a crummy, almost dilapidated movie theater. Then, I screened it on my 9" inch one speaker television set. While I don't think either of my two viewings was ideal, I will say that this movie works well in both mediums. I think when you have a solidly put together story, mixed with great acting and breathtaking visuals, you end up with a film that easily translates across the different formats. I don't, however, think this movie works as well on an iPod.
English - Dolby Digital 5.1 - French - Dolby 5.1. In many ways this isn't a dialogue film but it's also not a film that is filled with silent moments. It is mix of both of those things and what results is an experience. Brokeback Mountain is one of those rare movies in which the film is truly layered by a touching soundtrack. From the opening notes of the "score," we seem to be entering a world that is void of any emotion. As it goes on, everything seems to build and build until the movie reaches it's unfortunate conclusion.
This front cover features the same image we have scene of Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger as they appear to stand together. The back cover gives us some pictures from the film, a description of what Brokeback Mountain is about, a "Special Features" listing and some technical specs. Pretty simple packaging and something tells me that in a few years (or maybe sooner), they are going to release a two disc version of this film with a lot more bells and whistles.
The biggest problem when a movie like Brokeback Mountain is a success (and at $166 million worldwide it is a success), is that the market will be flooded, not with homosexual films but with bad homosexual films. Movies that are made with a gay angle to just make a buck. What is the difference between that and straight movies that are cranked out just to make a buck? Hey... I don't care much for those either. I just think when you work as hard as the people on this film did, to tell a heartfelt emotional story about love (regardless of if it's between men and women, men and men, women and women, etc.), I think there is something about that purity of intention that should be preserved. This is show business however, so it probably won't be.
Brokeback Mountain is a welcome addition to the great films it now stands along and I look forward to proudly displaying it in my DVD collection.
Brokeback Mountain was released September 10, 2005.