When the first
p.r. stuff came out about a Collectors' Edition of Brokeback
Mountain on DVD, I admit I laughed. How much more in-depth
do we need to go? It's not like Lord of the Rings
-- and I know there are Brokeback Mountain fans wondering
why we need more documentaries about Hobbits.
When I opened
it up and saw the postcards (which are nice - I just don't
know who I'd send them to), I'll go so far as to say I snickered.
But I've been thinking, usually a dangerous thing for me,
and I've come around a bit on this one.
of all, Brokeback Mountain was, without a doubt,
an historic film. Not necessarily for its subject matter,
or at least superficially, because films about gay relationships
have been around for decades. This one merits special treatment
because it rightfully got recognized as a good film,
not a "gay" film. Yet in a year where gay slurs may have
led to the firing of an actor from one of TV's top shows,
it's clear that some of the issues raised by this film still
need to be examined.
Ang Lee's work
here is no more or less sensitive than it has been on any
of his other films, including Hulk. If that
movie had not been burdened with the expectation of a lot
of Hulk smashing and cost about $50 million less, we might
have liked it better. Brokeback Mountain is a film
from a director at the top of his game, working from a strong
script with at least two of the best young actors in film
On those merits
alone, we should have expected a comprehensive special edition,
which Universal has delivered. Both Heath Ledger and Jake
Gyllenhaal talk about their preparation for their roles,
which at least in Gyllenhaal's case made a huge impact in
his career. Though screenwriters Larry McMurtry and Diana
Ossana probably deserve more attention (McMurtry is, after
all, worth a full length documentary to himself), they get
a good chance to talk about their process on this film.
As has become
de rigeur on "year later" DVDs like this, Universal
includes a featurette on the impact of the film. Not quite
a "where are they now?", it does give a good snapshot of
a movie overcoming prerelease controversy to become a cultural
touchstone. (And no, that's not hyperbole - whether or not
people have seen it, they know certain moments and references
If extras aren't
your thing, the release of this edition still accomplishes
two things. Its existence pushes this film back onto your
radar, and might spur you to pick it up. On the other hand,
it also means that the original DVD release is going for
a lot cheaper as stores try to jettison that stock.
it's a film worth taking a look at, whether it's your first
time or not.
Brokeback Mountain (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)