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Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay Paperback – 31 Dec 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner Book Compan (31 Dec. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743294165
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743294164
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 831,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Annie Proulx is the author of eight books, including the novel "The Shipping News" and the story collection "Close Range". Her many honors include a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, and a PEN/Faulkner award. Her story Brokeback Mountain, which originally appeared in "The New Yorker", was made into an Academy Award-winning film. Her most recent novel is "Barkskins".She lives in Seattle.

Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Lonesome Dove", three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays. He lives in Archer City, Texas.

Diana Ossana has written two novels, more than a dozen screenplays and numerous essays.


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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With both the original short story (incredibly well written and will surely one day be a classic) and the screenplay in one volume, along with essays by the screenplay writers Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, and the wonderful Annie Proulx herself on the making of the film, this is a "must buy" for any Brokeback fan. As well as being able to compare the short story and the wonderful way McMurtry and Ossana adapted the story faithfully for the screen, missing not a detail, and a glimpse into the making of the film, the screenplay's invaluable for those times when no amount of rewinding and viewing again can make out what the hell Ennis is mumbling! As the title of the book says, from story to screenplay, combining both with the thoughts and recollections of those most closely involved in taking the story from the page to screen, gives more insight into the process involved.

I own two copies of the book - one which I dip into on a regular basis which is now battered and worn, being well read, but my other stays safely stored away, just perfect like both the story and screenplay, but this is definitely a book for reading.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was really helpful as my daughter is doing a project on the film.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8bb2e0a8) out of 5 stars 158 reviews
450 of 461 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bb16378) out of 5 stars Women hold their own in this worthy adaptation of a gay love story 21 Dec. 2005
By Charles S. Houser - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This little volume contains Annie Proulx's original short story version of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN as it appeared in The New Yorker in 1997 along with the screenplay to Ang Lee's film by Larry McMurtry (The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment) and Diana Ossana. The screenwriters retained much of the spareness, tension, and overt and threatened violence of the original story. They even incorporate much of Proulx's unfilmable descriptions in between the characters' speeches (perhaps as cues for method actors). The biggest change from story to screen seems to be the expanded roles of the women in the men's lives--the wives, girlfriends (created from whole cloth), and Ennis's daughter, Alma Jr. This seems justified, given that the story takes place over twenty years, a period in which both main characters, Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar, carried out a spotty love affair but constructed their public lives according to more conventional mores. Ennis's love of his daughters is, we feel, genuine and not a substitution or consolation prize. And the fact that she can see her father's loneliness only adds to the pathos of his situation.

Each writer contributes an essay about their experience bringing this story to the big screen. Proulx's "Getting Movied" was especially thoughtful and generous. The volume would have been nicely served, however, had Ang Lee contributed an Introduction. If you're a movie credits geek, this book concludes with the entire closing credits, including the sheep wrangler and bear trainer. Also includes 8 pages of black and white photos from the film.

A nice souvenir for anyone who loves the movie and wants to study it more closely.
300 of 312 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bb11d5c) out of 5 stars Powerfully moving, adds to the film; includes insightful essays from the writers 25 Dec. 2005
By Glenn Camhi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Both the short story and screenplay are likely to move you to tears, make you feel like somebody's pulling your guts out hand over hand a yard at a time, as Annie Proulx writes of Ennis. They can also make you treasure love more. Proulx's prose is pure poetry. The screenplay is a terrific read and a faithful adaptation and expansion. It's fascinating to have them side by side, to see how certain characters and events were fleshed out... how, for example a single sentence (about a terrible misunderstanding of Jack's, for those who know the story) became a tear-jerking three-page sequence of scenes. The story, script and movie all add depth to each other, like three tellings of the same tale that emphasize different shades. If you're interested in delving deeper into the lives and loves of these characters and the starkly beautiful honesty of this world, buy this book. In addition to the story and script, the book includes three eloquent essays by Proulx and each of the screenwriters, Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. These offer a good deal of insight and color to the story and whole development process, from Proulx's germ of an idea for a short story to the screenwriters shepherding the project for years, to each of their reactions to the final film. Fascinating and powerful. Strongly recommended.
95 of 96 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bb11dd4) out of 5 stars The Art of Transforming a Compelling Short Story Into an Equally Resonant Movie 6 Jan. 2006
By Ed Uyeshima - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ang Lee's powerfully moving cinematic translation of Annie Proulx's masterful short story, "Brokeback Mountain", is obviously turning into a cultural phenomenon. So much so that not only is there the inevitable movie tie-in book (actually the original short story bound in a new softcover with the movie poster), but there is also a much-deserved resurgence in sales for her 2000 short story collection, "Close Range", which provides the broader context for "Brokeback Mountain" (it concludes the book). With the increasing success of the film in its smartly planned roll-out, we now have the story-to-screenplay tome. This would seem like overkill were it not for the fact that Proulx's original story is a remarkable piece of sparingly written fiction and that Lee's film, thanks to screenwriters Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, is a wondrously faithful translation of her vision.

Through a series of narrative ellipses, Proulx presents a palpable love story about two ranch hands, Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, who meet and become obsessed with one another. First published in the New Yorker in 1997 and greeted with much acclaim, the story is less about coming to terms about the characters' sexual proclivities and more about their inability to act upon those heretofore untapped emotions toward a greater happiness. Even though both men marry and have children, neither can fully acknowledge the love they feel toward each other because of the steep price that their love carries and they can only express themselves privately for more than twenty years. Suffice it to say the story is stunning in its preciseness and evocation of the contemporary West, but on first read, it hardly beckons a screen treatment.

Yet, if anyone can do it, the reclusive McMurtry has the credentials given his masterworks as both novelist and screenwriter - "Lonesome Dove", "The Last Picture Show" and "Terms of Endearment". With his longtime writing partner Ossana, the obvious challenge was expanding Proulx's story without getting verbose and compromising the emotional tone or integrity of the core story. The final script is 110 pages long, and it is a testament to McMurtry's and Ossana's talent that only one-third is taken up by the original story. Their approach was to take Proulx's words verbatim and augment many of the narrative ellipses, the most obvious opportunity in adding dimension to the women in the two men's lives. It is fascinating to read how the wives, Alma and especially Lureen, transform from background figures into vivid characters with their own unspoken feelings in the screenplay. The other significant aspect that resonates is how the script captures what Proulx painted in words about the landscape and the silent moments among the characters. Reading the wondrous screenplay makes me appreciate the effort it takes to visualize a story that was meant to be left to the imagination.

There are also three essays included in the book - individual accounts by Proulx, McMurtry and Ossana. What comes across clearly is how they all have strong synchronicity about the final screenplay. Proulx's essay, "Getting Movied", is the most interesting in that she tells us the genesis of the story through years of subliminal observation in her adopted home of Wyoming. It apparently started when she saw an old ranch hand in a bar packed with good-looking women, yet he was only watching the guys in a furtive fashion. This image so affected Proulx that she counted back from his age and decided to set the story in the 1960's when he would have been a young man. She ruminated on the themes of rural homophobia and the internalized challenges of gay men in these areas. It's obvious that Proulx tapped into something deeper and that McMurtry and Ossana have been able to make even more tangible.
113 of 118 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bb11c54) out of 5 stars Proulx, McMurtry and Ossana on BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN 8 Jan. 2006
By Foster Corbin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Included in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN: STORY TO SCREENPLAY are the original story by Annie Proulx and the screenplay by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. Additionally and most importantly there are essays by Proulx, McMurtry and Ossana on how both the story and the screenplay came about. All that is missing, unfortunately, are comments by Ang Lee that would have been helpful indeed.

If you are interested in seeing how the movie was changed from the original story, you can follow both texts, should that meet your fancy. I for one am not inclined to read screenplays. I'd much rather take my chances on remembering differences from actually seeing the movie. The screenplay fleshes out the Proulx story and adds more scenes with both Ennis and Jack's families. There is one brilliant change near the end of the film that has to do with Ennis' shirt he had lost. In Proulx's story, when Ennis visits Jack's parents, he finds his dirty, tattered shirt hanging inside one of Jack's shirts in a closet. In the movie version, Ennis takes the shirts and then reverses them, putting Jack's shirt inside his own. (That's when even the bravest members of the movie audience cry.)

By far the most interesting thing about this book is the essay by Ms. Proulx. She comes across as the person we suspected she is from having written such a powerful story. She makes it clear that this story, while a love story, is also about homophobia, Jack's and Ennis' and everybody else's. Rather than being about "two gay cowboys," as urban critics have said, Ms. Proulx states that she is writing about "destructive rural homophobia. Although there are many places in Wyoming where gay men did and do live together in harmony with the community, it should not be forgotten that a year after this story was published Matthew Shephard was tied to a buck fence outside the most enlightened town in the state, Laramie, home of the University of Wyoming." Even as late as 1997 when Proulx got the idea for her story after observing an older, weathered man in a bar who was not watching the women in the bar but rather the young men playing pool, she noted that in a rural cafe the owner was "incensed that two 'homos' had come in the night before and ordered dinner.'"

Although Ms. Proulx expected protest letters from religious types when her story was originally published in THE NEW YORKER on October 13, 1997, what she got were letters from men, some from Wyoming, who said that she had told their story or their son's story. She says she is still getting these kinds of letters eight year later. Although she states that she had some disagreements with the writers of the screenplay, she essentially is pleased with the film-- and we have no reason to believe she is being anything less than honest in her praise of McMurtry's, Ossana's and Lee's adaptation.

Both McMurtry and Ossana in their essays compare this film to Richard Avedon's photographic collection IN THE AMERICAN WEST, which is certainly not a sentimental representation of the West.

Those of us who welcome this kind of honesty in films are keeping our fingers crossed that Televangelist Pat Robertson is too busy with events in Israel to put a curse on any or all of the individuals involved in this fine endeavor.
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bb160c0) out of 5 stars Deepens the experience 7 May 2006
By MartinP - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Brokeback Mountain seems to elicit an extraordinarily strong, often emotional response from audiences everywhere. It is a film easy to become obsessed with, and this book might just be the thing for anyone who wants more - though those with hopes of finding some sort of redemption to ease the pain of the movie's starkly desolate ending will be disappointed. Annie Proulx's original, magnificent short story (reprinted in full, including the italicized intro that was not in the original New Yorker publication) is even sparer and more brutal than the film, and at least as powerful. Her Jack and Ennis are rather less glamorous than Gyllenhaal and Ledger (for one thing, Gyllenhaal's teeth are way too perfect), and somewhat more explicit in their discussions of their predicament. The way Proulx weaves the presence of nature into their story, so that the wind, the mountains, the vast plains become an organic part of the tragedy, is marvellous. It is equally marvellous to see how McMurtry and Ossana took this lump of gold and forged it into a jewel of a screenplay (one that laid around in Hollywood desk drawers quite a while as the best unfilmable script around). In fact, the second part of this book presents us with a somewhat problematic mixture of screenplay and shooting script, dated October 2005 (after completion of the film, that is). The text is very close but not identical to the movie; descriptions also contain several discrepancies to what is seen on screen; and the timeline, especially towards the end, appears to be garbled. On the other hand it does include such elements as Ennis's swapping of the shirts, which was an on set idea of Ledger. Short story and screenplay have much in common, and share large swathes of dialogue. But they also cover different ground, and the whole is more than the sum of its parts. The story fleshes out Jack's history and allows a look inside Ennis's mind; the screenplay makes dramatic characters out of the women and children, who are as much victims of forces beyond their control as the men are. It also turns Ennis into rather more of a conundrum than he is in the story (or, for that matter, in a 2003 version of the screenplay).

On initial viewing, one of the things that makes the film so compelling is the fact that it does not spell out all the answers - it is no coincidence that BBM discussion boards are buzzing with (at times highly outlandish) interpretations. This book is fascinating because it makes you aware that in fact nearly all the answers ARE there, but hidden under the surface. I found its reading enriched my experience of the film considerably (and turned renewed viewing in to some kind of exquisite self-inflicted torture...). By the way, the screenplay is of course also a great help to those who - due to either Ennis's mumbling, the heavy accents, or both - have trouble understanding everything that is being said.

The book is rounded off with three brief essays, from Proulx, McMurtry and Ossana. McMurtry's is cursory, rather pointless, and vaguely unpleasant. The other two however are engrossing and contain enlightening angles on the film and the story. Proulx forcefully slams the notion of the "gay cowboy movie" and points out that the theme of BBM is the destructive force of rural homophobia. As she makes clear, a sexual relationship like that of Jack and Ennis is no far-fetched fantasy but a reality of life in the Mid West (as everywhere). Interestingly, sex between men is not what bothers society; it's love between men that society can't abide. A thought like that allows a whole new take on the scene in which Joe Aguirre confronts Jack with his knowledge of Jack and Ennis's sexual exploits. Aguirre is hardly a paragon of moral indignation - he's seen it all before and even has a cute colloquial phrase for it; he's merely exasperated that his employees weren't doing the work they were paid to do. Ossana poignantly links the story of Jack and Ennis to the killing of Matthew Shephard in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998: the destructive processes shown in BBM are very much with us still.

Obviously, the eight pages of black-and-white stills are a far cry from the film's visual splendours. Worse, in its avoidance of any scene depicting intimacy between the men (and its eagerness to include a lot of boy-girl images), the selection is simply hypocritical. On the other hand, even in this modest incarnation, the image of the two shirts on their worn hanger next to a postcard of Brokeback Mountain leaves no doubt that it is already a classic cinematic icon, and one of the most inspired endings to any movie ever. For those who have trouble recovering from their devastation after seeing the film, the end of the full credits list that completes the book also contains some helpful information: "The characters and events depicted in this photoplay are fictitious".
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