Cast & Crew
In 1963, just outside Signal, Wyoming, hardened ranch foreman Joe Aguirre hires two nineteen-year-old farm boys to tend a large herd of sheep for the summer on Brokeback Mountain. Hard-working and coarse, Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist are eager for the wages and the camping in open wilderness the job requires. Aguirre assigns Jack to tend the sheep, but demands that he tent beside the herd each night to protect them from predators. Further, he insists that Jack do so without a campfire, despite the cold temperatures, to avoid alerting the rangers, who require that the herders stay on designated campsites miles from the herd. Jack can return to the site for breakfast and dinner, made by Ennis, who is hired to cook and attend to weekly supply runs. The next day, Jack and Ennis get to know each other over a drink. Desperate to avoid farm work with his strict father, outgoing Jack earns his living riding rodeo bulls. The more reserved Ennis, orphaned at a young age, was reared by his sister and brother in poverty after the bank foreclosed on their farm. That afternoon, Jack and Ennis load the mules, saddle the horses and herd over a thousand sheep onto Brokeback Mountain's vast pastures. In the first few weeks, the men settle into a routine with little communication. Ennis only reveals that he is marrying his sweetheart Alma in the fall, while Jack rants about the hours commuting between the herd and camp each day. On Ennis' first supply rendezvous, a bear spooks the mules and horse, throwing him to the ground and causing him to search for hours for their supplies. Wounded, Ennis returns late to camp, where a concerned Jack tends to him. Later, Ennis, hoping to appease Jack, who is tired of canned beans, shoots an elk for meat and offers to camp with the sheep. As the days linger on, the intimate physical conditions of the camp and nightly whiskey drinking by the campfire open the men to teasing and talking. Jack proudly displays his rodeo belt buckle and admits his disappointment that his father, also a bull rider, never came to see him ride, while Ennis divulges that he was forced to quit high school to earn a living on his own and cares little for rodeoing, of which his father disapproved. Encouraged that Ennis has finally opened up, Jack mocks his own rodeo enthusiasm with bumbling antics and jokingly calls himself a "sinner" while explaining his Pentecostal upbringing, and a relaxed Ennis admits he is still a virgin. One night, Ennis, too drunk to return to the sheep, attempts to sleep by the campfire, but when it dies out, Jack orders the shivering man into his small tent. Late that night, Jack reaches for Ennis, who briefly resists but then draws Jack into a passionate kiss and the two have quick, rough sex. When Ennis returns to camp that evening after tending the sheep, he tells Jack that their night together was a "one shot thing." Both quietly agree that they are not "queer" and continue their lovemaking that evening, more tenderly than before. The men continue to spend their nights together in the ensuing weeks, but after a snow storm hits the mountain, Aguirre, who has spotted the men in intimate horseplay through binoculars, orders them to bring the herd down early, claiming that more storms are expected. Jack tries to ease the tension by playfully lassoing his sullen lover, but Ennis is so overcome with unfamiliar emotions at the prospect of their summer ending that he violently punches Jack in the face. Having returned the herd to Aguirre, Ennis watches Jack's truck pull away after a cursory farewell and is soon fighting back nausea and tears, unable to accept either his love for Jack or the end of their affair. The next summer, Jack returns to Aguirre after a year on the rodeo circuit, but the foreman hatefully berates him for "stemming the rose" with Ennis and refuses to rehire him. Meanwhile, Ennis works as a ranchhand and lives with his wife Alma and their two baby daughters, Alma, Jr. and Jenny, in a small apartment above a laundromat in Riverton, Wyoming. Resisting his longing for Jack, Ennis regularly pressures Alma into having anal sex despite her aversion to it and vents his frustration by picking fights with other men. In Texas, Jack marries self-assured barrel racer Lureen Newsome and works as a salesman for the Newsome farm equipment business, where he endures daily belittlement from Lureen's father, L. D. Four years after his summer on Brokeback, Jack, having heard that Ennis lives in Riverton, sends a postcard there to arrange for them to meet when he drives through. On the appointed day, Ennis eagerly embraces and kisses Jack upon his arrival as a stunned Alma surreptitiously witnesses the scene. Claiming to Alma that he and Jack will be drinking all night, Ennis instead makes love to Jack at a hotel then returns home the next morning only to say that he is going on a weekend fishing trip, leaving Alma in utter despair. While camping, Jack speaks of ranching together, but Ennis stubbornly refuses anything but secretly meeting a few times a year. He then recounts his father's vile warning: When Ennis was a child, he learned about ranchers Earl and Rich, who lived quietly together until other ranchers beat Earl to death to punish them for their homosexuality. Ennis' father forced his two young sons to see Earl's mutilated corpse, his penis torn from his body, as gruesome and haunting deterrent from the unacceptable behavior. Although sympathetic, Jack complains that every four years is not enough, but Ennis warns "If you can't fix it, you gotta stand it." Ennis and Jack then meet several times a year in Wyoming for their romantic camping trips under the pretext of "fishing," enduring the long absences. Meanwhile Alma, unable to tolerate Ennis' emotional distance and refusal to get a better paying job to support the family, divorces him and marries her boss, grocery store owner Monroe. Learning of Ennis' divorce, Jack arrives unannounced in Riverton to spend an unscheduled weekend together, but Ennis claims that he must remain in Wyoming for the girls, who are visiting him that weekend. Heartbroken, Jack seeks solace by visiting a male prostitute in Mexico. On Thanksgiving, after dining with Alma, Monroe and the girls, Ennis, unable to admit his homosexuality, physically attacks Alma when she finally confronts him about his affair with "nasty Jack." After he meets again with Jack, Ennis explains his growing paranoia that others can sense his homosexuality. When Jack suggests that he begin a new life in Texas, Ennis once again vehemently insists that he cannot leave because of his responsibilities. Soon after, Ennis begins dating saucy waitress Cassie and introduces her to the now teenage Alma, Jr., who bluntly states that her father will not marry again. Meanwhile, Jack, unknown to Ennis, continues to have love affairs with other closeted homosexuals. On one of their camping trips, Jack and Ennis, now in their thirties, share a marijuana joint and talk about their unsatisfactory lives. After Ennis informs him that they cannot meet again until November, not August as they had planned, Jack beseeches his lover to stop creating distance between them. Surmising that Jack is seeking sex elsewhere, Ennis jealously rages, blames Jack for his own homosexual behavior and finally weeps in Jack's arms. While comforting Ennis, Jack remembers him as he was on Brokeback Mountain, when he relished their tenderness and was comfortable with their love. Later in Riverton, after Cassie tearfully confronts him for ceasing contact, Ennis, unable to tell her where his love really lies, offers her no explanation. Weeks later, Ennis' postcard to Jack is returned with "deceased" stamped on it, prompting him to call Lureen for the first time. Lureen tells him that Jack died accidentally when he drowned in his own blood after a tire rim flew off and knocked him unconscious, but the shocked Ennis believes that Jack was beaten to death for his homosexuality. Learning that Jack wanted his ashes scattered at Brokeback Mountain, Ennis drives to the Twist family's farm in Lightning Flat, Wyoming to carry out the request. Jack's father John's abhorrence of his deceased son is evident as he recounts that Jack had promised to take over the family farm with a divorced man he met recently. John then refuses to give Ennis the ashes, but Jack's demure mother shows him to Jack's childhood room, where Ennis finds a shirt he had believed was lost on Brokeback, still stained with blood from their fight, hanging inside Jack's shirt. Cradling it, Ennis mourns his lover and returns to Jack's mother, who silently accepts Ennis' love for her son by offering him a bag to carry the memento. Sometime later, nineteen-year-old Alma, Jr. visits her father in his meager trailer to announce her upcoming marriage and leaves her jacket behind. As he gingerly places the jacket on his closet shelf, Ennis gazes at the two shirts, Jack's and his, hanging one inside the other next to a postcard of Brokeback Mountain, still longing to be with his first and only love.
Steven Cree Molison
Scott Michael Campbell
Steffen Cole Moser
T J Bews
T. J. Bews
Gerry Robert Byrne
Mary Lou Green
George A. Lara
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Music Original Dramatic Score
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
In the onscreen closing credits for Brokeback Mountain special thanks is given to a number of individuals as well as towns in which the film was shot, including many towns in Canada and New Mexico. The film included clips from various television shows, including Kojak and several Canadian broadcasts of sporting events. A closing statement reads "For Shen Lee//In loving memory of Geraldine Peroni." Another closing credit reads "Produced with the participation of the Alberta Film Development Program of The Alberta Foundation for the Arts."
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx first published the short story "Brokeback Mountain," on which the film was based, in The New Yorker in 1997. The story won a National Magazine Award, among other honors, and was later published in a collection of Proulx's short stories entitled Close Range: Wyoming Stories (New York, 1999), with a preface not included in the original The New Yorker publication. The preface, set after "Jack Twist's" death, describes a morning in which "Ennis Del Mar," having been laid off his ranchhand job, must consider moving in with his married daughter "Alma, Jr.," while pleasant thoughts linger from his most recent dream of "Jack."
In October 1997, as noted in the film's presskit, Diana Ossana shared the story with her longtime writing partner, native Texan and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry. Several of McMurtry's own novels have been adapted into Academy Award-winning films, including The Last Picture Show (1971, see below) and Terms of Endearment (1983) and Texasville (1990). Moved by Proulx's ability to capture the pent-up emotions of the cowboy characters and by the work's powerful love story, Ossana and McMurtry optioned the story from Proulx soon after, for the first time using their own money, as opposed to seeking studio funding.
Ossana and McMurtry then wrote the screenplay together, finishing by the end of 1997. On August 27, 1998, Daily Variety reported that Gus Van Sant was signed to direct the picture for Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) and by October 18, 1998, a Los Angeles Times article noted that Columbia Pictures, a subsidiary of SPE, had been assigned the picture. A September 4, 2005 New York Times article noted that Van Sant approached the then sixteen-year-old Jake Gyllenhaal for a lead role. According to a December 13, 2005 Los Angeles Times article, producer Scott Rudin also optioned the film after reading Ossana and McMurtry's screenplay, while actor Joaquin Phoenix expressed interest in playing "Jack." Baseline Studio Systems' website adds that Billy Crudup, Josh Hartnett and Colin Farrell had been mentioned as stars. However, Rudin and Van Sant had casting difficulties and Rudin's option expired before the project was made. Producer Joel Schumacher also was briefly attached to the picture.
According to a September 5, 2001 Daily Variety article, Academy Award-winning screenwriter and producer James Schamus optioned the screenplay in 2001 for independent production company Good Machine, whose principals were Schamus, David Linde and Ted Hope. Schamus, who had tried to get the film made earlier, approached Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee, with whom he had worked regularly on films, including Sense and Sensibility (1995), The Ice Storm (1997) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). However, Lee was already committed to making The Hulk (2003), which Schamus was also producing, and passed. In 2002, Universal Studios merged Good Machine with their USA Films division to form Focus Features, which was headed by Schamus and Linde. By 2003, Schamus signed Lee to direct the film for Focus Features.
On January 14, 2004, Daily Variety reported that Australian Heath Ledger and Gyllenhaal were cast in the picture. When approached, Ledger committed to play the part of Ennis without having spoken or met with Lee, who noted in the presskit that Ledger's performance was "underplayed powerfully." The presskit also stated that Ledger and Gyllenhaal were coached to perfect their accents, which had to vary as their characters aged. Actor Randy Quaid, who played the part of "Joe Aguirre," had previously acted in several Westerns, including roles in The Last Picture Show and Texasville. Actress Michelle Williams, who garnered attention for her supporting role as Ledger's wife "Alma" in the film, began a relationship with Ledger during shooting of Brokeback Mountain and subsequently had a child with the actor in 2005. Some sources add Steve Eichler, Barb Mitchell, Haley Ramm and Ken Roberts to the cast.
The film began shooting in May 2004 in Alberta, Canada, in locations including the Canadian Rockies, Cowley, Fort MacLeod and Calgary. Members of the Calgary Gay Rodeo Association advised and consulted with the production, and also appear in several scenes. According to the presskit, the film, with an estimated budget of over $12 million, was the least expensive film Lee had made since his early work, the 1994 Taiwanese film Eat Drink Man Woman.
Although Brokeback Mountain followed the short story plot, often using dialogue from the text verbatim, there were several differences between the screenplay and the short story: In the film, the character "Cassie," Ennis' girl friend after his divorce, is fleshed out, as is Jack's relationship with his in-laws. The film also includes more scenes about Jack's homosexual affairs outside of his relationship with Ennis. In addition, the closing scene in the film includes a visit from a teenaged Alma, Jr., which is not included in the short story.
Brokeback Mountain had a limited release on December 9, 2005 in Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco, then had a platform release, opening in an increasing number of cities throughout December 2005 and January 2006. The film was extremely well received by critics, and widely publicized and attended. While many articles and press members praised the film as the first mainstream "gay cowboy" film, Ossana and McMurtry maintained that the film was essentially a love story. Many press interviews lauded Ledger and Gyllenhaal for breaking a Hollywood taboo by acting in intimate homosexual scenes, citing possible risk to their careers for the portrayal. Among the many lines often quoted in the press and sometimes lampooned by comedians soon after the picture's release was Jack's frustrated lament to Ennis during their last trip together, "I wish I knew how to quit you."
In addition to being named one of AFI's ten Movies of the Year for 2005, Brokeback Mountain garnered many accolades, including the Golden Lion Award for Best Picture at the Venice International Film Festival, where the film had its premiere in September 2005; New York Film Critics Circle awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor (Ledger); and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture and Best Director. In addition, Gyllenhaal was named Best Supporting Actor by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review, which also listed the film on its Top Ten list. The film also won the following Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Lee) and tied for Best Supporting Actress (Williams) with Amy Adams in Junebug.
Brokeback Mountain won Academy Awards for Best Directing, Original Score and Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for Best Cinematography, Actor (Ledger), Supporting Actor (Gyllenhaal), Supporting Actress (Williams) and Best Picture. Many in the press considered Brokeback Mountain the front-runner for the Oscar for Best Picture. Consequently, when the film lost to Crash (see below), some critics, among them Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, wrote articles accusing the Academy members of being homophobic for their choice over Brokeback Mountain. Prouxl wrote a letter to the British newspaper The Guardian, published on March 11, 2006, stating not only that the ^Crash win was undeserved, but that Ledger and Gyllenhaal portrayal of characters based on "imagination and a few cold words on the page" deserved more recognition, as opposed to the Oscar winner for Best Actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and his portrayal of well-known and documented author Truman Capote in Capote (see below).
In March 2006, Quaid, who claimed that the film was falsely represented to him as a low budget art house film as a ruse to secure him on a very low salary, sued the filmmakers for $10 million in damages. On May 5, 2006 Los Angeles Times article reported that Quaid had dropped the suit after Focus Features agreed to pay him a bonus for his work on the film.
The picture also received Golden Globe awards for Best Motion Picture-Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Original Song. Additional Golden Globe nominations included Best Actor (Ledger) and Best Supporting Actress (Williams). Other accolades for the film included a Producers Guild award for Best Picture-Theatrical, a Best Director award to Lee by the Directors Guild of America and a Best Adapted Screenplay Award from the Writers Guild of America. The film also received Screen Actors Guild nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Ledger), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Gyllenhaal), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Williams) and Outstanding Performance by a Cast; Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Male Lead (Ledger) and Best Supporting Female (Williams).
Released in United States Winter December 9, 2005
Released in United States on Video April 4, 2006
Released in United States 2005
Released in United States September 2005
Shown at Venice International Film Festival (Competition) August 31-September 10, 2005.
Based on a short story written by E Annie Proulx and first published in the "New Yorker." It is also included in Proulx's short story collection "Close Range: Wyoming Stories" published by Scribner in 2000.
Scott Rudin was previously attached to produce.
Billy Crudup, Josh Hartnett and Colin Farrell were mentioned to star.
Literary Sale Date 06/29/1998
At one time, project was being eyed for Gus Van Sant to direct and Columbia to distribute, but it ended up in development at Good Machine when Sony's option expired.
Released in United States Winter December 9, 2005
Released in United States on Video April 4, 2006
Released in United States 2005 (Shown at Venice International Film Festival (Competition) August 31-September 10, 2005.)
Released in United States September 2005 (Shown at Telluride Film Festival September 2-5, 2005.)
Winner of four 2005 awards including Best Film, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Jake Gyllenhaal) by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).
Winner of four 2005 Satellite Awards including Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Director, Best Original Song ("A Love That Will Never Grow Old") and Best Film Editing by the International Press Academy (IPA).
Winner of the 2005 award for Best Adapted Screenplay by the Writers Guild of America.
Winner of the 2005 award for Best Picture by the Producer's Guild of America.
Winner of the 2005 award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film by the Directors Guild of America (DGA).
Winner of the two 2005 awards including Director and Film of the Year by the London Critics' Circle.
Winner of three 2005 awards including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor (Heath Ledger) by the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC).
Winner of three 2005 awards including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor (Heath Ledger) by the San Francisco Film Critics Circle (SFFCC).
Winner of two 2005 awards including Best Cinematography and Best Original Score by the Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA).
Winner of two 2005 awards including Best Director and Best Supporting Actor (Jake Gyllenhaal) by the National Board of Review (NBR).
Winner of two 2005 awards including Best Film and Best Director by the Boston Society of Film Critics (BSFC).
Winner of two 2005 awards including Best Film and Best Director by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA).
Voted one of the 10 best films of 2005 by the American Film Institute (AFI).