Thursday, February 02, 2006

the book, not the movie

*note: spoilers!

i read anne proulx's "brokeback mountain" (now a major motion picture from focus features! - so screams the cover) last night.

and i cried.

i tried, several times, to blog about the story. i wanted to write about how despite the fact that i don't approve of it being turned into a gay propaganda film - i'm not homophobic and i'm all for human rights, but i believe that homosexual activity is just not natural - i found proulx's short story to be a profound piece of work.

but i couldn't. so here's an attempt at just writing stuff off the top of my head and trying to make it comprehensible.

the 55-page long story left alot of room for imagination and interpretation, which is just the way i like it. the way she described the growing affection between jack and ennis...

during the day ennis looked across a great gulf and sometimes saw jack, a small dot moving across a high meadow as an insect moves across a tablecloth; jack, in his dark camp, saw ennis as night fire, a red spark on the huge black mass of mountain.

that paragraph not only described the exact way one sees the object of one's infatuation - as the only thing that stands out against a background of plainness - but also expressed the fact that jack had always had stronger feelings for ennis than ennis had for him, even right at the beginning.

i think if i quote every bit of the book i liked, i'd be liable to be sued for using the writer's work without permission.

if you were to ask me which part first shook the tears out of me, i wouldn't be able to give you a satisfactory answer. i guess it could have been the "act-tough" manner jack and ennis first parted after their time at brokeback mountain ended. or maybe it was that scene when alma, after bearing witness to a kiss the malaysian censorship board would definitely scream at, realised that her marriage to ennis has ended.

or perhaps it was this part...

what jack remembered and craved in a way he could neither help nor understand was the time that distant summer on brokeback when ennis had come up behind him and pulled him close, the silent embrace satisfying some shared and sexless hunger...

...later, that dozy embrace solidified in his memory as the single moment of artless, charmed happiness in their separate and difficult lives. nothing marred it, even the knowledge that ennis would not then embrace him face to face because he did not want to see nor feel that it was jack he held. and maybe, he thought, they'd never got much farther than that. let be, let be.

i'm not sure if my tears flowed when my mind registered those words because i was more aware of the stabbing pain in my heart as it splintered into pieces.

the story didn't change my stand on homosexual activity being unnatural, though it did make me think about discrimination as a whole.

there was a part in the story where ennis talked about seeing the body of a man who was beaten to death and posthumously castrated because he lived with another man and never married. ennis' father brought him to the grisly site when he was a child. it made me sick to the stomach.

by the end of the story, i found myself almost forgetting that the whole plot revolved around an intimate relationship between two manly men.

"brokeback mountain" became a love story that is as heart wrenching as heart wrenching love stories go. it pulled the right cords and resounded the right chords...and i loved it.

i know the movie will never make it to malaysian screens, and i know that it will not mend any relations between the gay population and the church.

but if you enjoy reading good writing and you can separate the raw feel of the plot from the strong feelings you undoubtedly have about the underlying issues...please go grab a copy of "brokeback mountain" and read it before making a visit to your friendly neighbourhood uncle ho.

lishun at 10:47 AM