Sunday, January 01, 2006

"Jack, I swear..."

This is sort of a post about Brokeback Mountain, because everybody else was doing it. Plus, blogging about a gay cowboy movie set in Wyoming (but which was secretly filmed in Alberta, which is, in a somewhat odd definition of the term, where L. and I went on our first date) is kind of like writing about nature, which is what I am supposed to be doing in the first place.

I have seen this movie twice, and I left the second viewing with a very different sense of the movie than the first time. The first time I saw the gay cowboy movie (or the queer cowboy movie, as Sam has argued) and the second time I saw a movie which I found to be just incredibly, profoundly sad; so much so that I wasn't sure how I'd missed it the first time. As Dan has also mentioned, this movie sticks with you.

The reason it's staying with me, in a kind of molasses-of-sadness way that I can't remember another narrative doing in a long time, seems to me to be a thing apart from the movie itself--the writing, the acting, the directing, the cinematography--as L. said, forbidden love is a story you've seen a hundred times before; here they just changed one tiny little detail, and look what happened. I don't mean to imply that this film transcends its gayness, because regardless of what else you want to argue, THIS FILM IS TOTALLY GAY (or else it's totally queer, but I'll leave that argument to the people who have degrees in this stuff). It is gayer-than-a-tree-full-of-parrots gay. But this film did transcend some sort of narrative something for me, in a way which the other longing-and-loss texts that I've read/seen/whatever didn't, but which seems inextractable from its gay/queerness, but also beyond it.

Also, the two guys making out is totally hot.


Rebecca said...

hello from Mumbai...

Yes I've been pondering BBM, and thinking that perhaps there are new narratives in the world. I mean sure, you can reduce anything to boy-meets-girl blah, but I think that's missing the point. I'm going back on earlier things here and also likely angering my English phd friends, but I think there can be new narratives. I think new histories demand new narratives. new ways of thinking. And by new, I don't mean utterly fresh, of course. That doesn't exist. I mean different enough to warrant a new descriptor, a new way of looking. a new something.

To cite Veronica Mars: it's the same old story: girl meets boy, girl uses boy to steal evidence files from police station, girl is utterly wrapped up in a murder investigation from her past, girl admits to boy she has both used him and kissed other boys, and thus girl and boy continue to help one another out in relative amicability. Or maybe it's a new narrative. dunno.

Transient Gadfly said...

so i am only ABD in english (and very likely to remain so), but you have my full support here. the suggestion that there are no new narratives totally misses the point. anything can be distilled into sameness. anything. because we all live, love, and die, eat, have friendships, frustrations, major and minor victories, etc. the point of storytelling though seems to be that these are never the same. much of the titular point of this blog, oft made in my own living room, is that it all sounds the same, but it seems completely different when it happens to you. part of the point of storytelling is to show the wonder in the everyday and universal -- when you fall in love it feels like only you but also you are enacting exactly what everyone before you has or look how pretty autumn leaves are (another supposed, if not actual, point of this blog). but the other side of the storytelling coin, it seems to me, is the uniqueness of each time, each permutation, telling why this one is different and, if you'll forgive the circularity, worth telling. and worth telling now. BBM is not just a love story. it's a different story than that. it is new because it's not been told before in this way (big screen, big actors, big director, big writer, oscar noms, etc.). but better still, it's important to tell this story because now is the time for it. it tells us something important about NOW. it is timely. ("timely" is a registered idea of sam's. it is not mine. also untimely. if i remembered how to do that href crap, i would link you right to sam, but everyone already knows him.) it's like your earlier rant about king kong -- we can't forgive the absurd orientalism just because it's based on a film made in the thirties -- why are they telling this story NOW? i had the same complaint about Narnia whose moral was essentially: war is good; boys become men by sticking bad guys with long, hard objects; if you have objections to war and killing, it's because you are naive and immature; war may look scary but actually it's noble and a lot like playing dress-up. this may have been a semi-reasonable story during WWII, but it is certainly a highly problematic one now (especially to tell to children), and now is when we're telling the freaking story. aaarrgg.

LOVE the technology in india. love it. --mtg

Craig Blackmon said...

Maybe the difference comes from the fact that this story of longing and loss is as much about Ennis Del Mar, and what's going on inside of him, as it is about Ennis and Jack. The movie points out the terrible toll on a person when he refuses to acknowledge his own identity. Certainly other, traditional "longing-and-loss" stories include complex characters who fight some internal battle related to the relationship. But the internal battle in Brokeback Mountain is really the primary story, which is set up by the longing-and-loss relationship. That's a reversal of the more traditional story.