When released in cinemas here in January, Brokeback Mountain was one of the most hyped movies of the last few years -“ not only because of the stellar cast and the fact Ang Lee directed it, but because it was lauded as the first realistic big screen gay love story to come out of Hollywood.
Not surprisingly the hype was especially strong in the gay community, with many people thrilled to have at last a feature film that helped express to a mainstream audience what it can be like to struggle with one’s sexuality.
Deemed an instant classic, it was generally loved by the critics and audiences alike, and the hype grew when it won three Oscars for best director, best adapted screenplay and best original score.
As a result the DVD is bound to do well when it hits the shelves this week.
On the small screen Brokeback Mountain doesn’t have quite the same epic feeling it did at the cinema, nor the same emotional impact.
Bonus features include interviews with the key cast members, the director and screenwriters Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry. Most interesting are Ossana and McMurtry, who described how they fleshed out the short story by Annie Proulx into a feature film.
They discussed how the script then famously sat on a shelf for seven years because Hollywood was too scared to touch it. It became known as the greatest unproduceable screenplay ever written.
Once renowned director Lee showed interest, so did Hollywood. The project got the green light from Focus Features and everyone Lee asked to take part said yes. Lee said Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal were his first choices to play Ennis and Jack, and the screenwriters said they always imagined Ledger playing Ennis.
Ledger and Gyllenhaal explain how they went to cowboy boot camp to learn how to ride horses properly, how to handle sheep and how to live on the land. There’s also a making-of documentary which looks at how difficult it was shooting on location in the mountains of Calgary, Canada.