‘Brokeback Mountain’ stirring up controversy

Melissa Sewell

“Brokeback Mountain” accepted four Golden Globe awards last Monday, which adds to their four Screen Actors Guild Awards and dozens of independent film festival awards. Many perceive the film as a step toward easing gay culture’s merge into the mainstream.

For many, however, “Brokeback Mountain” is known only as “that gay cowboy movie.”

The film debuted Dec. 9 in three cities – New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Regardless of the limited amount of screens, a record was broken over the first weekend. According to the TV Guide, “Brokeback Mountain” had the highest per-showing average for any drama in film history.

The film has been shown on fewer screens and in fewer cities due to its content. One Utah theater owner pulled the movie from its line-up when he learned that it involved a gay romance. For over a month, the media has been following the controversy surrounding the debut, from the Catholic Church’s disgust to some celebrities’ enthusiastic support. “Brokeback Mountain” has become much more than a film; it has morphed into a topic of frantic debate all over the country.

Needless to say, the movie is not being shown anywhere in Topeka.

Those Topekans who wish to see “Brokeback Mountain” have no choice but to drive to 3433 Iowa in Lawrence to catch the flick at South Wind Cinema 12.

After seeing the much-talked about movie, I can understand how it has gained all of those awards. Though I’m probably just as jaded, un-amused and unfeeling as the rest of my generation, this humble reporter was moved almost to tears. Almost, I said.

The film made me feel happy and proud at its existence, the same way I feel when I see a same-sex couple holding hands in public. I also felt tense and protective, like I do when that same couple is scowled and jeered at.

On a whole, the film is cinematically beautiful and wonderfully casted. I’ve never regarded Heath Ledger seriously before, but his Southern accent was believable and, my, is he cute in a cowboy hat.

The romance between the two main characters was tastefully portrayed and the resulting conflicts were given due attention. Any movie would fail to truthfully replicate the pain that many experience trying to validate their relationships in the eyes of society. “Brokeback Mountain,” at least, was able to show a fraction of that struggle. And in this, Hollywood has come a long way.