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Brokeback Mountain
I went to see Brokeback Mountain this weekend.

It was beautifully and movingly done, needless to say; I was in tears at the end. The theatre was nearly full and there were no jeers or walkouts; people seemed to really be absorbed in the movie. The direction was so good that even if you don't like gays, you'd be likely to become involved with and care about the characters portrayed by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhal, and appreciate the central theme of the movie.

The central theme of the movie is not to "push the gay agenda", or even a gay love story. Indeed, there are no gratuitous love scenes, and the ones there are serve only to explain and move the story forward. It's not even mainly about the universality and power of love, although that is, indeed, a sub-theme. It's really about how; when two people are in love, the barriers and obstacles put up by society to thwart that love and the possiblity of their being able to be together, really hurts and damages the people involved and affects their lives in ways that often alter its course, and usually not for the better ... about the inherent and gross unfairness of such barriers and obstacles ... about the fact that such barriers and obstacles are put up by people who don't even know you, whom you will never meet, and who feel they have the right to determine your choices in love and the subsequent course of your life for you. About the fact that, if two people are in love, they should be able to be together regardless of what the situation is. And about the terrible pain suffered by those who cannot be together because of such barriers and obstacles or who, like the character Ennis in the movie, lack the courage to overcome such barriers and obstacles and follow his heart and the true course of what his life was meant to be.

THAT is what the central theme of the movie appears to be to me, and the writing, direction, and acting was such that you literally felt Jack and Ennis's pain and got a true sense of what they were really going through.

Cultural and social barriers make life extremely difficult for people who only want to be left alone in peace to share their love and their lives together. NOTHING MORE.

In our own time, we're dealing with people who think they have the right to, yet again, determine for certain other people who they have the right to fall in love with and marry based, yet again, on their own standards, beliefs, and "morals"; and who are, yet again, causing tremendous pain and suffering for those whom their so-called "standards" affect greatly. I've always had a hard time understanding why people think they have the right to determine, based on their own standards, beliefs, and "morals"; the personal lives and private decisions, such as who to love and who to marry, for other people whom they don't even know and will never meet. What Brokeback shows is that love is love and it shouldn't matter for whom you feel it; people who are in love should be able to be together regardless of what "society" thinks.

The scene that most movingly showed this was when Jack and Ennis had been meeting a couple times a year for nearly twenty years and Jack finally explodes, wanting to actually be able to share his daily life with Ennis. Ennis, however, is too afraid to take that leap and Jack's frustration built up over twenty years, twenty years of having to be married to others, finally boils over and explodes. Several years prior to this scene, he'd told Ennis that "sometimes I miss you so much I can hardly stand it." "We can't fix it," Ennis replies. "If you can't fix it, you gotta stand it." Right then you really begin to sense the pain these two are going through at not being able to fulfill their true heart's desire and be together. The movie seems to be asking here "Why should they have to stand it?" Why shouldn't they be able to be together if they want?" It is an ageless, timeless question when it comes to love.

"Do you realize the life we could have had these past twenty years?" Jack asks Ennis, after finally exploding in frustration. "I wish I knew how to quit you." Indeed, people in love CANNOT just "quit" each other, and the movie again does a very moving job of showing the kind of pain that results from that when barriers and obstacles are put in the couple's way. Ennis suddenly breaks down, and Jack ends up holding him as they cry together for a lost life, a lost past, a lost future, and the fact that their love is hated and misunderstood by their own culture and society. One can imagine this scene being played out in real life thousands of times over, and the thought of so much pain and anguish is overwhelming.

THIS is why it's so important to fight for the right of people who are in love to be able to be together, sharing their love and their lives, without the ridiculous, ludicrous, hateful barriers and obstacles put in their way. And that includes ALL couples, not just gay relationships. That is the central message Brokeback Mountain wants us to leave the theater understanding. And let's hope as many people as possible see it and that they do, indeed, come away internalizing that message.

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