Top positive review
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN  [Blu-ray]
25 July 2014
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN  [Blu-ray] [US Release] The Perfect Hi-Definition Movie Experience! Love Is A Force Of Nature!
Directed by Academy Award® winning filmmaker Ang Lee. ‘Brokeback Mountain' is a sweeping epic that explores the lives of two young men, a ranch hand and a rodeo cowboy, who meet in the summer of 1963 and unexpectedly forge a lifelong connection. The complications, joys and heartbreak they experience provide a testament to the endurance and power of love. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal deliver emotionally charged, remarkably moving performances in "a movie that is destined to become one of the great classics of our time" (Clay Smith, 'The Insider').
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: 78th Academy Awards®: Won: Best Director for Ang Lee. Won: Best Adapted Screenplay for Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. Won: Best Original Score for Gustavo Santaolalla. 59th BAFTA® Awards: Won: Best Film for Diana Ossana and James Schamus. Won: Best Supporting Actor for Jake Gyllenhaal. Won: Best Director for Ang Lee. Won: Best Adapted Screenplay for Larry McMurty and Diana Ossana. Directors Guild of America Awards: Director of the Year Award and Theatrical Motion Picture for Ang Lee. 63rd Golden Globe® Awards: Won: Best Motion Picture for Drama for Diana Ossana and James Schamus. Won: Best Director for Motion Picture for Ang Lee. Won: Best Screenplay for Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. Won: Best Song for Gustavo Santaolalla and Bernie Taupin for "A Love That Will Never Grow Old." Venice International Film Festival: "Golden Lion" for Best Film for Ang Lee. Writers Guild of America Awards: Best Adapted Screenplay for Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. 78th Academy Awards®: Nominated: Best Picture for Diana Ossana and James Schamus. Nominated: Best Actor in a Leading Role for Heath Ledger. Nominated: Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Jake Gyllenhaal. Nominated: Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Michelle Williams. Nominated: Best Cinematography for Rodrigo Prieto. 59th BAFTA® Awards: Nominated: Best Actor for Heath Ledger. Nominated: Best Supporting Actress for Michelle Williams. Nominated: Best Cinematography for Rodrigo Prieto. Nominated: Best Score for Gustavo Santaolalla. Nominated: Best Editing for Geraldine Peroni and Dylan Tichenor. European Film Awards: Screen International Award for Ang Lee. 63rd Golden Globe® Awards: Nominated: Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama for Heath Ledger. Nominated: Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for Michelle Williams. Nominated: Best Original Score for Gustavo Santaolalla. 49th Grammy Awards: Nominated: Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media for Producer Gustavo Santaolalla. Producers Guild of America Awards, Critics' Choice Movie Awards, and Independent Spirit Awards. Brokeback Mountain ranks 13th among the highest-grossing romance films of all time.
Cast: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Randy Quaid, Valerie Planche, Dave Trimble, Victor Reyes, Lachlan Mackintosh, Michelle Williams, Larry Reese, Marty Antonini, Tom Carey, Dan McDougall, Don Bland, Steven Cree Molison, Anne Hathaway, Duval Lang, Dean Barrett, Hannah Stewart, Scott Michael Campbell, Mary Liboiron, Graham Beckel, Kade Phillips, Steffen Cole Moser, Brooklynn Proulx, Ken Zilka, John Tench, Linda Cardellini, Anna Faris, David Harbour, Kate Mara, Gary Lauder, Christian Fraser, Cam Sutherland, Roberta Maxwell, Peter McRobbie, Mary McBride (uncredited), Barb Mitchell (uncredited), Rodrigo Prieto (uncredited), Neil Riddaway (uncredited), Jon-Paul Khouri (uncredited) and Kailin See (uncredited)
Director: Ang Lee
Producers: Bill Pohlad, Diana Ossana, James Schamus, Larry McMurtry, Michael Costigan, Michael Hausman, Murray Ord, Scott Ferguson and Tom Cox
Screenplay: Diana Ossana, Larry McMurtry and Annie Proulx (short story)
Composer: Gustavo Santaolalla
Cinematography: Rodrigo Prieto
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish: 5.1 DTS and French: 5.1 DTS
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French
Running Time: 134 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Focus Features / Universal Pictures
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Here is a special love story from director Ang Lee in which the taboo word "love" is never spoken. In fact the whole film is a rich, spacious, passionate way of showing, not telling, feelings that dare not speak their name - and doing so with superb intelligence and magnificent candour. ‘Brokeback Mountain’ is an adaptation of a piece of writing from award winning 1997 novel by Annie Proulx, that already bears the burdensome reputation of being the best short story ever to be published in the New Yorker magazine: the tale of two itinerant ranch-hands in the early 1960s, Ennis and Jack, who get a summer's work shepherding on ‘Brokeback Mountain’ in Wyoming.
The story of 'Brokeback Mountain' is by now familiar to all except those who have been living under a rock for the past few years. It is sometime in the early '60s, and ranch hands Ennis [Heath Ledger] and Jack [Jake Gyllenhaal] take a job herding sheep one winter up on Brokeback Mountain. Completely bewildering, even to themselves, the natural bonding of men in close quarters leads to something more passionate and physical. There is little doubt in the minds of either Ennis or Jack that whatever happened up on the mountain, will stay on the mountain. Over the next dozen-odd years, they will lead "conventional" lives: marrying, having children, and assimilating into a society that doesn't even have a word for what "they are." But every so often, they will visit `Brokeback Mountain,' under the guise of old friends in for a little camping, but let's just say they don't bring back a lot of fish. Inevitably, their repressed love exerts such a powerful need to declare itself that cracks will begin to form in their facade, to the point of tearing the fabric of their lives apart. I suppose at this point it is no spoiler to say that all does not end well and is a very sad scenario.
Thrown together, lonely and frustrated, Ennis and Jack find that their relationship has grown deeper and fiercer than friendship and they have sex. It is a glorious, revelatory experience, and safe from society's disapproval on that remote Arcadian spot they are at one with their own natures and with nature itself. And for the rest of their lives, unhappily married with children, meeting every few years as notional buddies for furtive "fishing trips,” they yearn to recapture that brief shining moment of happiness and truth.
There are many theories why 'Brokeback Mountain' was a massive success, but I don't think there is one clear answer. I do feel that essential to its success is the fact that this is the first "gay" movie to never actually utter the word. 'Brokeback Mountain' is not "about" an issue or a social problem. It is the only film I have ever seen mainstream or otherwise, that simply accepts its character's orientations as fact. Jack and Ennis simply are. This allows the film to explore their stories, their feelings, and the consequences of their decisions, free of silly moralising, political positions or well-meaning (though often condescending) platitudes. Which is why 'Brokeback Mountain' proved not only so controversial, but dangerous to the long-cherished beliefs of those of a more conservative bent. Polemics are easy to dismiss; stories about three-dimensional people that we come to understand, empathise with and care for over the course of 134 minutes are not. There is a real sense here that the dimensions and space of the film have been stretched, and screenwriters Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana have developed and extrapolated the source material with flair, in particular giving a dramatic presence to the women in Ennis and Jack's story. The wives are destined to be baffled and hurt, and crucially realise that it is they, and not their menfolk, who are expected to live out their lives in a state of denial.
Beautifully composed and wonderfully acted, this film is massively superior to the last Annie Proulx adaptation, the woeful ‘Shipping News’ and far better than Ang Lee's last cowboy film, his very moderate civil war drama ‘Ride With the Devil.’ On a purely cinematic level, 'Brokeback Mountain' never seems to take a wrong step. Here is an example of a filmmaking team firing on all cylinders. Every aspect of the production excels, yet does not overpower the whole of the writing, the direction, the cinematography, the performances, the score and on down the line. And that's really saying something, when you consider that 'Brokeback' could be the career best for all involved. Director Ang Lee, who took home an Oscar for 'Brokeback Mountain,' was the perfect choice to portray a story about characters who can't address their feelings. 'Sense & Sensibility,' 'The Ice Storm,' 'The Wedding Banquet,' even the 'Hulk' they are all strands of the same thematic thread, but never has Lee evoked the tortures of repressed passions as beautifully as in 'Brokeback Mountain.' The actors are also, dare I say, revelations. Yes, that is an overused critical phrase, but few could have ever expected such a level of subtlety, perception and restraint from Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. Not to mention fellow Oscar nominee Michelle Williams (forever erasing any memory of 'Dawson's Creek'), and Anne Hathaway, who with one immensely powerful last scene, facilitates a whole new understanding of the film with just a flitter of the eye and a few simple pauses between words. Finally, we can't forget screenwriters Annie Proulx , Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry, who will likely never be able to write another such perfectly modulated, perceptive script as this.
If anyone wonders whether 'Brokeback Mountain,' after all the hype, will stand the test of time, it is worth revisiting on this Blu-ray. I first saw the film back in the late summer of 2005, far before it hit theatres and became such a cultural touchstone. I was blown away by the quiet power of the film, its level of astute craftsmanship, and the terrific performances. I was also astonished that though the film never has that "one big scene" expected in a tearjerker and the 'Love Story' death-bed moment, if you will and I couldn't stop thinking about the film for days. But now I had to wonder, would 'Brokeback Mountain' hold up? Indeed, it does. Long after the endless parade of lame "gay cowboy" jokes and pointless bickering about awards tallies are over, I think the film will easily stand on its own as a landmark cinematic achievement. 'Brokeback Mountain' will last because it is about not about issues, but the human condition itself. It leaves us both haunted by the prejudices that doomed the lovers of `Brokeback Mountain,' and emboldened into believing that our society can, at last, rise above them.
It is a desperately sad story in many ways, a story of two wasted lives, but a beautiful and moving story, too. Jake becomes a sell-out, working for his obnoxious father-in-law selling farm machinery, and Ennis turns into a grumpy and taciturn old cowpoke, their true selves become more poignantly inaccessible with each unsatisfactory holiday together. Further than this, ‘Brokeback Mountain’ is the story of how most of our lives, gay and straight, are defined by one moment in which things go gloriously and naturally right, when everything falls into place, but which is then infected by the bacilli of wrongness. Ennis and Jack, flawed as they are, do their best to resist the encroachment of that infection; they fight not just against bigotry, but dullness and mediocrity. Their story is not tragic, but heroic.
Blu-ray Video Quality – 'Brokeback Mountain' Blu-ray disc trails the inferior NTSC DVD release by a couple of years, but packs no new surprises. The film is presented in an awesome 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a very impressive 1080p video image, and I could not detect any difference in the transfers. In general, this is lovely and occasionally even gorgeous presentation that suitably captures the movie's earthy, film-like texture. There is some grain throughout, but I didn't find it intrusive; rather, it adds to the experience by giving the movie a touch more grit. Colours are quite good, from the lush greens of the mountain countryside to the vivid blues and reds of the oft-cited fireworks shot used in much of the promotion for the film. Yes, hues are a bit more subtle and natural than most modern films, but colours remain stable and clean, and flesh tones lovely. Depth and detail are also excellent, particularly compared to the previous standard boring inferior NTSC DVD edition. The early scenes as Jack and Ennis first meet up on the mountain are more textured and three-dimensional. Close-ups are also improved, and I could see every strand of Anne Hathaway's ever-more-hilarious hairstyles as the movie progresses. This is best exemplified by a low shot early on of Ennis on a horse, silhouetted against the sky, where there is some slight ringing around the most contrasted part of the image. Not severe, but still enough of an irritant that it leads me to knock 'Brokeback Mountain' down half a peg from being a genuine reference-quality, five-star transfer.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Universal Pictures much improves upon the Dolby Digital-Plus mix on the previous inferior NTSC DVD release by giving 'Brokeback Mountain' the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround treatments on this Blu-ray disc. This is restrained mix, but as smooth and warm a presentation of the material that is likely possible. Much of 'Brokeback Mountain' remains front-heavy and dialogue-driven. It is always the most prominent feature of the mix, and sounds natural and well balanced. Even Heath Ledger's lowest mumbles are usually discernible (at least at a decent volume). Even more of a stand-out in 5.1 DTS-Master Audio surround mix is Gustavo Santaolalla's minimalist, largely acoustic score. It has a rich, pleasing tone, and the subtle use of score bleed adds a haunting and melancholic quality. Low bass remains strong, if never overpowering. Surround use is subdued as you might expect, yet atmospherics are much more impressive than they at first appear. For example, in the key scene near the end of the film as Ennis visits the Jack's parents, there is a low, almost whispery sound of the outside wind that fills the rear channels. Moments like this are eerie, haunting and highly effective. Also more active is the "fireworks" scene with Ennis, and a couple of rodeo and bar scenes. Ultimately, 'Brokeback Mountain' on Blu-ray still doesn't really overwhelm or pummel, but faithfully replicates the subtle style of the soundtrack.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature Documentary: A Ground-breaking Success  [1080p] [14:00] The most relevant of the new documentary. The usual assortment of film critics and historians are trotted out to proclaim 'Brokeback' a classic, as well as what looks to be comments new and old from cast and crew, but the Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal chats seem fresher, while Ang Lee's interview in particular appears dated). Unfortunately, at only 14 minutes, this barely scratches the surface. I read interviews with Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, both of whom said they got letters from fans whose lives were changed by the film. Where is this kind of emotional material? How about some genuinely insightful perspective on how 'Brokeback' has influenced the political landscape for gays and lesbians in America? Or the backlash against the film? 'Brokeback Mountain' is the kind of hot-button film tailor-made for a substantial documentary, but sadly, this isn't it? Other contributors to this documentary are Peter Bart, Alonso Duralde, Diana Ossana, B. Ruby Rich, James Schamus and Matt Zoller Seitz.
Special Feature Documentary: Music from the Mountain  [1080p] [11:00] Next we have this nice look at the making of the film's score, although I only really liked it because of the vibrant personality of composer Gustavo Santaolalla. He's passionate and enthusiastic, and having won an Oscar for his efforts, certainly deserves his own documentary.
Special Feature: Still Montage  [1080p] [3:00] ‘Impressions from the Film' is a nearly 3-minute montage of the films stills over excerpts from Gustavo Santaolalla's score. How about a real still gallery, with never-before-seen production and publicity photos? Maybe Universal Pictures is saving that for maybe a next special edition?
Special Feature: On Being a Cowboy  [1080p] [6:00] Clearly produced before the film was released and offer no perspective on the film's impact. A bonus is that even supporting cast are interviewed, including Randy Quaid, Linda Cardellini and Anne Hathaway. This might be fairly interesting if you'd never heard anything about 'Brokeback Mountain,' but it's just an average documentary.
Special Feature: Directing from the Heart: Ang Lee  [1080p] [8:00] This is easily the best available feature on this Blu-ray disc. The feature goes into some detail about Ang Lee's desire and quest he hoped to achieve by making a film of this nature.
Special Feature: From Script to Screen: Interviews with Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana  [1080p] [10:00] This feature chronicles the making of the film from the early concepts, casting, settings, pre-production, post-production, and marketing. Since I found the film to be simply magnificent, this feature really accentuates the themes of the film in style. Films produced from Larry McMurtry’s works have garnered ten Oscars and 34 Oscar nominations, beginning with his first novel Horseman Pass By, which in 1963 was made into the film ‘HUD,’ starring Paul Newman. Larry was previously nominated for an OSCAR® back in 1971 for Best Adapted Screenplay along with Peter Bogdanovich for their adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s 1996 novel “The Last Picture Show.” His first attendance at a Hollywood awards ceremony was for the Broadcast Film Critics Awards in Los Angeles on the 9th January, 2006, and his first writing award ever received in Hollywood was at the 78th Annual Golden Globes® Awards on the 16th January, 2006, where he received, along with Diana Ossana, the Golden Globe® Awards for Best Screenplay of 2005 for ‘Brokeback Mountain.’ On February 4th, McMurtry and Ossana won the WGA award for Best Adapted Screenplay. They have also been nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the Best Adapted Screenplay category for ‘Brokeback Mountain.’ Larry McMurtry turned 70 years old on 3rd June, 2006.
Special Feature: Logo Movie TV Special: Sharing the Story: The Making of ‘Brokeback Mountain'  [1080p] [22:00] Finally, this Logo television special "Sharing the Story: The Making of 'Brokeback Mountain,'" which as stated, runs for 22 minutes. This, too, has been played so incessantly on cable TV, especially in America, that it's now slightly yawn-inducing. More interviews with all the cast and crew and plenty of on-set footage make it a good little TV documentary on its own terms, but this is old news if you've already seen it on TV, or on the original inferior NTSC DVD release. Contributors to this documentary are Judy Becker, Linda Cardellini, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Ang Lee, Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana, Gustavo Santaolalla, James Schamus and Michelle Williams.
Special Feature: My Scenes [BD-Live] [1080p] 'Brokeback Mountain' comes BD-Live-enabled. But there's no original content available for download. Only the ability to, as usual with Universal titles, bookmarks your favourite scenes and shares them with friends.
Finally, I am very happy to say that 'Brokeback Mountain' has survived the avalanche of hype, awards nonsense and backlash to survive as a very moving, impeccably crafted, landmark motion picture. It really is a masterpiece of subtlety and restraint, and one that seems to only grow in power with repeated viewings. This Blu-ray essentially replicates the previous inferior NTSC DVD release, with very fine video and a decent, if underwhelming, selection of extras. Only the audio gets a true magical upgrade. Still, 'Brokeback Mountain' is a modern touchstone, and this Blu-ray delivers on the bottom line [sorry for the pun] and that is why I am so proud to add this unique beautiful and character driven tour-de-force film, that is why it is an honour to add this to my Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom