Transience and Imperfect Tense: Brokeback Mountain as Melodrama
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Stewart, M. (2008) Transience and Imperfect Tense: Brokeback Mountain as Melodrama, Scope: an online journal of film and tv studies, vol. 12, , ,
For a number of critics, Brokeback Mountain (2005) is a groundbreaker, the boundaries it extends, broadly, being generic. B. Ruby Rich believes Ang Lee has taken an established conventional genre by the horns [-_] creating something entirely new [-_] read[ing] the history of the west back through an uncompromisingly queer lens (Rich, 2005: 2). Philip French argues that the film is a major contribution to our understanding of the western genre (French, 2006: 3). I have no particular problems with this. For while Lee seems to want to distance the film from the Western genre (in Clarke, 2006: 29) and, as Peter Bradshaw indicates, this ascription can limit how the film is conceived (Bradshaw, 2006: 3), I think the Western is big and complex enough to go quite a long way toward explaining what Brokeback Mountain is all about. However, the best way into Brokeback Mountain, as it were, is via melodrama. Various theorists and observations lead me to this belief. Moreover, I want to argue that theorising Brokeback Mountain as melodrama is important for a number of reasons.