Masculinity & Brokeback Mountain Essay

924 Words Jun 19th, 2011 4 Pages
The raison d’etre of the Western is arguably to celebrate masculinity, but Brokeback Mountain is a revisionary Western that challenges definitions of masculinity. Discuss this statement with reference to Jane Marie Gaines’s and Charlotte Cornelia Herzog’s comments on the homoeroticism of the Western.

The Western genre is undoubtedly one that is governed by the traditional male 'hero' and its masculine stereotypes. Rarely does the genre break away from this mould, however Ang Lee's renowned film Brokeback Mountain defies the set expectations of the Western and its celebration of masculinity. The film depicts the tragic love between the two central characters 'Ennis del Mar' and 'Jack Twist', set against the backdrop of the American
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Noticeably, Jack Twist almost always wears these two colours throughout the entirety of the film.
Between the two male leads, Twist is most obviously more effeminate than the hard exterior portrayed by del Mar's character. The introduction of Lureen shows her wearing vibrant scarlet clothing or red lipstick. This is presented as a more masculine colour - illustrating Lureen as a strong, independent woman. It is also observed that Lureen maintained the business and that her father constantly questioned Jack's ability as a 'man'. The opening scene is significant, as it positions the viewer to immediately understand the characterisations of each male lead and provides a glimpse into the future development of their relationship. Stenning Edgecombe claims,

'From the different attitudes the camera had toward their bodies in the opening sequence, to the economies of looks and talk between them, to their different sexual positions and experiences, this act masculinised Ennis while feminised Jack' (2007)

The contrast between the two characters is most evident, and though there is no dialogue, their body language highlights the different roles in which they play. Ennis leans against the trailer, hands buried deep into his pockets, with his head bowed low. While Jack attends to his physical appearance with shaving, while they both somewhat cautiously surveyed one