Brokeback Mountain and the Western Genre

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The film genre of the Western has long since proven to be more about the conflict and showdowns that occur in the storyline. Usually the western genre incorporates traditional western motifs and icons and adheres to those common plot structures of the genre, but Brokeback Mountain is different from what is to be normally expected because it does not seem like a traditional and conventional Western film at all. Brokeback Mountain has several different twists to it, like the more modern take on it – traditionally, characters in Western films were riding horses, but because Brokeback Mountain is a more modern movie, the two characters Jack and Ennis are seen traveling in cars and trucks most of the time. This alteration is very major, as in many Western films the horses are very important and not just used as a typical means of everyday transportation. The Western is a genre that brings out other genres as well in their plot – war, melodrama, romance, comedy, and action, for example.

The Western genre had become so flexible that Brokeback Mountain had been able to introduce successfully new ideas into its plot, and although it had a more romantic feel to it because of the relationship between Ennis and Jack, it was still recognized as a Western film. This relationship between the two cowboys is one of the major changes that are prominent in the movie. Ennis and Jack being gay lovers was a newly introduced concept in the Western genre. It could be argued that there is and has always been some sort of underlying element of homoeroticism in Western films before, but not like it was in Brokeback Mountain, where it was so readily explored, and even as such made the central theme of the movie itself, and as seen in most W...

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... incorporated it at all, and others, like Hell's Hinges, where Blaze, after being attracted to Faith becomes more of a hero than a villain, and The Virginian, where the Eastern schoolteacher Molly got along really well with The Virginian, but even in where the element of attraction was introduced, there was still a severe lack of it in the earlier Westerns, as unlike Brokeback Mountain, they were not typically solely focused on the romantic aspect of it all – but it still held true that the genre was ever-changing and still is to this day, and though the traditional aspects and concepts of the Western are still used in order to identify as such, the Western films of today are not solely focused on what they were in the distant past.

Works Cited

Brokeback Mountain. Dir. Ang Lee. Perf. Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams. DVD. Focus Features, 2005.

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