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Brokeback Mountain And The Western Genre

1084 words - 4 pages

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 Westerns, it is most common that the regarded love interest is the wife of the main cowboy, who has some sort of a conflict he needs to face and solve by a showdown with the villain.
Brokeback Mountain, being the more homosexual romance-oriented Western that it is, subverts a large number of the typical traditional elements of the Western film genre as a whole, this one especially, by having another male be in the position of the love interest of the hero. Although this subversion in particular is very problematic for Jack, as it puts him in the shoes of being associated with all things relating to femininity in the relationship. For example, Jack is the one who makes the first move when seducing Ennis, using his own allure and sexuality into tempting Ennis when he calls him into the tent, leading Ennis down somewhat of a risky path. Ennis, however, is portrayed as somewhat of a saint, his being repressed and restrained by social standards, saying to Jack, “You may be a sinner but I ain't yet had the opportunity”. Another interesting typical thing in the Western genre that was altered was that instead of Indians being the villain, the enemy is that of a ignorant and oppressive society–a society that would kill Ennis...

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