Well, It Broke Me.

(Please note: There are NO spoilers in the post.)

Many, many years ago, I went to see Death of a Salesman on stage while I was living in State College, Pennsylvania. I went with my boyfriend at the time. His sister’s boyfriend held the role as “Waiter”. We received two free, front row tickets.

About halfway through my disbelief no longer needed to be suspended. I was a part of that play. I no longer thought about my surroundings. I no longer had to forget I was sitting in an audience. I no longer had to forget I was in a theater at all. Instead, I found myself remembering. I guess that one might say my suspension of disbelief turned into a suspension of belief. Or something.

By the end of that performance I was sobbing. And I don’t mean tears were falling from my eyes. I mean, they were, but it was a whole lot more than that. I was sobbing. The kind of crying one sheds as a child if one is lucky enough. My face began to spasm. I was gasping for air like an uncontrollably tearful hiccup. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed with sadness. It was the most bizarre and crippling feeling. I can’t imagine experiencing sorrow like that until the day I am forced to say goodbye to a family member.

I cry a lot. I cry during T.V. shows. I cry during the reading of a news story. I cry during movies constantly. And for some reason (and this one I just can’t figure out) I cry sometimes when I’m a part of a large audience. But I haven’t ever cried as hard as that night I saw “Death of a Salesman”. I came close a couple of times. When I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close I came close to feeling paralyzed. (I probably would have had the author not found a way to couple all the sadness with the equivalent level of humor.) I came close to losing it when I read A Prayer for Owen Meaney. I came close during About Schmidt.

Last night, Toby Joe and I went and saw Brokeback Mountain. It was a sold out show. It was a Tuesday. It was 8 PM. The theater was packed with people. I came with snacks as I had just left the gym and hadn’t eaten. Little did I know, about 15 minutes into the movie, I’d totally forget about my snack and my hunger. And even in spite of the fact that the two men behind us felt compelled to make snide comments at the screen when there was any sign of affection between the male characters, I was totally engrossed for the entire 2 hours and 14 minutes of the movie. (Seriously, I haven’t ever been so disgusted by the way some men can act. And I don’t mean the the two men on screen. They were both wonderful. The men behind us were of the most disgusting breed. Someone should have asked them to leave or stay home.)

I’ll start by saying that I did have some issues with the film. But I think my criticism is personal and won’t be felt universally. There were a few liberties taken by the director I could have lived without. I won’t drone on and on about that, however. Especially since I hate ruining movies.

What I loved about Brokeback Mountain is the fact that so much of the dialogue takes place in the viewer’s own mind. As an audience member, you’re forced to participate in each and every character’s life. Throughout the movie, you’re putting thought between of every one of their sentences as they are as well. The relationship between Ennis Del Mar and his daughter requires a lot of participation. The interaction between Ennis Del Mar and Jack’s mother requires a certain (albeit presumptuous) amount of participation. I wish I had a better way of explaining this. I’ve never really been that good at explaining myself.

When I get to know a character, even if that person is fictional, I find that I am much more attached to the decisions they make. I’m not sure if I have the story to thank for this, the director, or both. I find I’m crediting the direction this time. The last half hour of Brokeback Mountain had me by the ribs. At the end of Brokeback Mountain, I was left partly paralyzed. I was grateful that they left the lights low in our sold out movie theater. In the theater’s darkness, I was given a moment to compose myself. I had been moved to tears.

What has also brought me to tears was that this film was actually banned from theaters in America yet something like Hostel becomes the highest grossing film (emphasis on the word “gross”). What does this say about our cultural? I find it hard to believe I live in a country that approves of dismemberment, death and torture yet a film featuring a love story between two men is banned from being seen. Shame on us all.

(Please note: This post is all over the place. I wrote it in two sitting and in under 10 minutes. I do apologize for its drivel and seemingly rocky nature.)

11 Comments

  1. Oh, I want to see this so bad. I love movies that you can get lost in. It’s a shame there are so few of them.

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  2. This is not really a response -I am not reading your whole post because I haven’t seen the film yet. But I found the actual short story very moving and I thing Ang Lee can be pretty good. Looking forward to it.

    A co-worker of mine confessed to me that he had to stay home from work the day after after seeing the film due to his "malaise". hee.

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  3. Nico, the film broke my heart. I actually woke up in the middle of the night dreaming about it. I think I was even crying. I don’t remember what it was about, but the characters were still on my mind. It’s heartbreaking and wonderful.

    Painful, too.

    Also, I there are absolutely no spoilers in the post. I don’t think. :]

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  4. I like what you said about Hostel vs. Brokeback Mountain. Very good point.

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  5. I’ve been wanting to see this movie also, but will have to go alone. And there is no way anyone will ever get me to see Hostel – way to violent for my taste.

    And don’t feel bad I sometimes cry during commericals.

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  6. Wow, I saw this movie last night too! Though not in NYC. ;-)

    I was disappointed in the film. I thought it dragged on WAY too long and felt the chemistry between the two men was sorely lacking, as well as there being serious flaws with specifics that made no sense.
    That said, I appreciated much about it. I loved the cinematography and I thought Jake G. and Heath L. acted superbly. I just felt that a movie based on a SHORT STORY should not go over the 2hr mark.
    I would really like to see a movie that is about two people falling in love; about their inner characteristics meshing; who just happen to be two men.
    Pete and I were discussing this last night (he thought the movie was like watching paint dry, sadly), and mentioned the Birdcage. Nobody banned that movie. Why? Because they were stereotypes, number one, and people feel safe with them. Second, no hot sex. ;-) But there is a scene in that movie with Lane and Williams after an argument, and Willimas tells Lane that wherever he is, that is HOME. It is a very touching scene, and it doesn’t matter in the least that they are two men…you believe they are meant to be together.

    Sorry this is so long! The movie made me think much more about our culture than it did about cowboys, in other words, and I guess that’s good.

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  7. I always cry at movies and I did cry at Brokeback but I didn’t have the cathartic breakdown I thought I might have.

    The characters stuck with me for days though, something that rarely ever happens. I was talking today about the movie and though I had seen it weeks ago, it felt like I had just seen it. Most often I’ll forget plot points and characters the same night that I see a movie. Brokeback is an exception and I loved the slow pace of the movie that seemed to mirror the slow growth of their relationship and the quietude of the setting and their occupations.

    As I watched the movie, I thought, “Man, I have got to go to Wyoming – the mountains are so beautiful!” Then I saw during the credits that it was filmed in Alberta and I had to laugh because I have been there and I have seen those mountains :)

    I’d be interested in hearing your critique of it Mihow. What bugged you about it?

    One more thing, who would be stupid enough to go to see Brokeback Mtn in NYC and have the nerve to snicker about the affection between two men? You’re in the fucken capital of man-on-man action, you jerks!

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  8. I have a little bit of time, so I will go into a few things now.

    (SPOILERS BELOW!)

    One of the problems I had was the part toward the end where they are saying goodbye to one another and have just had a colossal (and wonderfully acted) fight. Right after they get done hugging on the ground after Jack breaks Ennis down and makes him hug him back the scene suddenly shifts to Ennis riding away on a horse. He says, “I’ll see you in the morning.” and rides off into the sunset. The scene then switches back to him driving off in his car.

    You KNOW at that minute they’re never going to see each other again. But I guess I just didn’t like how Ang Lee put it together. Now, I am sitting on the short story and can’t wait to read it. So I’m not sure if this scene was specific and needed to be in the film. Maybe it was really important. Who knows.

    I’m not sure how I can put the other part that (only slightly) bugged me. Nor do I have any idea how I might fix it if I were suddenly a genius and had the ability to. While the actors and their aging was entirely believable throughout the movie, sometimes, (and I mean very few times) I felt that we had to fill in too much to sew the pieces together. I wish I could explain that better. I think later, after I leave work, I will.

    In the meantime, might as well put it out there and see if anyone bites.

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  9. P.S. The above comment was one of those times I write in stream of thought. Forgive me if it makes no sense at all.

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  10. P.P.S Once removed, I am now realizing I have a weak spot in my heart for all those lonely. I guess it’s loneliness that gets me every time.

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  11. Spoliers, beware

    I had a few problems with the movie.

    a_ The scene after they have sex, when Randy Quaid sees them, and they’re shirtless, waxed, oiled and wrestling. I found that so ungodly stereotypical. I laughed my ass off , as did an entire section of the theater. i think people were completely justified at laughing at things then , because it was needlessly overdone (kinda like seeing mccauly culkins pale white ass in party monster – except everyone gagged at that sight)

    b_ When they would refer to ‘that summer up on brokeback mountain’ – the words/overhyped emotion they would be spoken with just cheapened it. it seemed like they filmed that for the trailers / press circuits.

    c_ texas. at first i thought they captured the idea of texas – nouveau riche, gay cowboys (not homosexual, but happy colors like roy rogers), utter tastelessness – but then it was just too much. i think they way overdid it in production design and costuming.

    d_ the end. there were a couple of scenes where ledger was talking about how their love destroyed his life, and jake gylenhall would go to flashbacks of their first summer. they edited it in a way that it made me think (for the time being) that jake gylenhall imagined the whole thing the first summer , before anything happened, and was playing everything out in his mind. but then the timeline went back to the ‘present’ for the movie, and things progressed. that really annoyed me. the girl i saw it with said she thought the same thing.

    that said, it was hauntingly beautiful – tough to watch but impossible to look away.

    mihow – you should really rent mysterious skin when it comes out on dvd. equally as well acted and tough to watch ( that’s the one about the teenages coming to terms with being sexually molested as children )

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