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The Cinema of Ang LeeThe Other Side of the Screen$
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Whitney Crothers Dilley

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231167734

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231167734.001.0001

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Transcending Gender in Brokeback Mountain

Transcending Gender in Brokeback Mountain

(p.147) Eleven Transcending Gender in Brokeback Mountain
The Cinema of Ang Lee

Whitney Crothers Dilley

Columbia University Press

This chapter analyzes Brokeback Mountain (2005). Based on the 1997 short story by Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain is about the romance between two uneducated farmhands. Throughout 2006, the “gay cowboy story” was both hailed as a vehicle for gay activism and vilified by American conservatives. An initial reading of the narrative through the lens of modern gender theory demonstrates, however, that the story is not overtly political, but rather seeks universality in the experience of human longing for affection and acceptance. This chapter first reviews the history of the representation of homosexuality in mainstream American film before discussing the true-to-life language and idioms used in Brokeback Mountain. It then considers how Brokeback Mountain conjures bittersweet yearning for lost love and lost opportunity, transcending any narrow issues of sexuality or gender, and becomes a more universal love story between two men.

Keywords:   Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain, gay cowboy story, homosexuality, love, sexuality, gender, love story

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