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Studying Brokeback Mountain

James Clarke

August, 2009
Paper, 160 pages, 10 b&w
ISBN: 978-1-906733-06-3
$15.00 / £10.50

Upon its release in 2005, Brokeback Mountain became a major pop cultural event. Striking at the zeitgeist sensibility, the film reminded audiences of cinema's power to dramatize our most powerful emotions and dilemmas and of its capacity to transcend the screen and become part of wider cultural debate. A modern take on a traditional genre, Brokeback Mountain stunned audiences with its powerfully told, tragic love story. The film also underscored the longevity of the Western as a narrative form, despite its fight for relevance in American cinema. Studying Brokeback Mountain compares the film to the short story written by Annie Proulx and considers its subsequent development into a feature film adaptation. The book contextualizes the film within the genre of the Western and cites the narrative and thematic conventions that Brokeback Mountain reinvigorates and complicates. The film is also situated within director Ang Lee’s entire body of work, taking apart its textual qualities, its application of sound, its images, and its narrative structure. The volume then considers the film’s reception and the range of responses it ellicited from critics, both celebratory and damning.

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About the Author

James Clarke is the author of The Virgin Film Guide: Animated Film and The Pocket Essentials: Steven Spielberg, among other books. His work has been published in The Guardian, Resurgence, Empire, and Splice, and he is lecturer and course coordinator of the Film and Video Foundation degree program at Hereford College of Arts, UK.

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