Updated: Jul 7
"How can I open my heart?" Buddhist instructor Sharon Salzberg was asked once. "Usually, it's broken open," she said. This film will both shatter and open your heart.
Longing is such a profound part of the human condition that it has inspired a slew of compelling films.
One such film is Brokeback Mountain, a story of love and tragedy, unmet goals, and lives squandered by denying passion and accepting orthodoxy.
Ang Lee's love narrative in which the forbidden word "love" is never uttered.
The entire film is a rich, expansive, passionate method of displaying, not explaining, sentiments that dare not say their name - and doing so with exceptional wisdom and candor.
Sometimes the idea of a "forbidden romance" in cinema is enticing, but other times... it's tragic.
It all depends on the forces that keep these two individuals apart.
This concealment of love shatters everything in both of their lives, causing cracks that show up in their job and relationships.
How can people expect to completely understand someone if they are rejecting a part of themselves?
It's devastating in the case of "Brokeback Mountain," a profoundly heartbreaking film from 2005.
It's only "forbidden" because the two do not believe they can, or should, be together.
That is why it is so effective by nature.
What appears to be a standard homosexual independent film on the surface does not follow the standard format and instead gives voice to its audience's biases and apprehensions.
Brokeback Mountain is based on Annie Proulx's 1997 short story "Ennis and Jack," which has the dubious distinction of being the most exemplary short story ever published in the New Yorker magazine.
The story of two nomadic ranch workers in the early 1960s, Ennis and Jack, who earn a summer's employment shepherding on Wyoming's Brokeback Mountain.
Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal portray them in this film.
Ennis and Jack, who were thrown together because they were lonely and frustrated, discover that their connection has grown deeper and fiercer than friendship, and they have sex.
It is a magnificent, revelatory event, and they are at one with their own natures and with nature itself, secure from society's condemnation on that lonely Arcadian site.
And for the rest of their life, unhappily married with children, reuniting every few years as notional mates for covert "fishing expeditions," they crave to relive that little dazzling moment of bliss and truth.
They both agree that what transpires on Brokeback Mountain remains on Brokeback Mountain, and they both expect never to see each other again when the summer is through.
Ennis is on his way to marry Alma (Michelle Williams), while Jack meets rodeo queen Lureen (Anne Hathaway).
But, deep down, none of them can forget their summer together, and Jack ultimately resolves to break the quiet and contact them.
Ennis nearly breaks down in the film's last, heartbreaking moment as he looks at a postcard of Brokeback Mountain tacked to his closet door; beside it, the trailer window looks out on a field of corn that stretches to the horizon.
It's a contrast of beauty and barrenness, but also of distinctive wilderness and domesticated land, acres upon acres that have been smoothed down and made uniform to the point that men like Ennis Del Mar, gay or not, have no place in them.
At the end of the day, this is a love tale that has the potential to be a powerful force.
It has the potential to be indestructible, robust, and one of the greatest of highs.
It may also be unyielding even when everything else is working against you.
That is certainly the case with "Brokeback Mountain."
This film exemplifies how terrible separation can be and how two people who desire to be together may continuously remain apart despite the depth of their affections.
It also serves as a reminder of the brutal hand of societal pressures and judgemental attitudes, as well as the weight and toll that may have.
Within the background of the 1960s, when things were much more challenging for the LGBTQ community, two guys discover a passion that burns even when others and themselves try to stifle it.
As a result, even if this isn't a cheerful narrative, it's a meaningful one to see.
It's difficult to find a film that grabs you as tightly as "Brokeback Mountain."
The tale stays long after its tragic conclusion, demonstrating the power of such an incredible picture while also retaining and imparting the concept of desire to its viewers.
Ang Lee creates a delicate film that takes its time stretching and bending.
There isn't a single frame that doesn't evoke feelings of desire or loneliness, letting us feel their remoteness and sadness.
We follow them through two decades as they deal with loss and regret, constantly finding each other despite time and distance.
It boasts a haunting soundtrack that is absolutely skeletal in its relevance to the tone of the film, exquisite cinematography, and suitable directing by Ang Lee, all while delivering fantastic performances, including one of the late Heath Ledger's best.
Brokeback Mountain is a love story that will make you feel compassion as you confront the story's central agony of separation.
It is also a cry for justice and acceptance for these lovers who have been forced to keep a vital part of themselves hidden for so long.
Brokeback Mountain is the account of how most of our lives, gay or straight, are characterized by a single moment when everything goes wonderfully and naturally well, but which is later infected by the bacilli of wrongness.