Saturday, March 6, 2010

No Man's Land

The last of the real men?

Interesting take on Brokeback Mountain and masculinity from The New Republic's Chris Orr. He maintains that Brokeback Mountain, apart from its gay themes, touches deeply on issues concerning a man's place in the modern world. About Jack and Ennis, Orr says:

It's no coincidence that, with the exception of their first, hurried reunification, their time together is spent not in discreet motels or open-minded cities but in the great outdoors. There, Jack and Ennis are free to be not merely gay men, but men--cooking over a fire and sleeping under the stars, unburdened by the neutering demands of domesticity, of children and wives and bills to pay.

I like Orr's list (after the article) of Westerns that re-write the genre, including John Wayne's fascinating turn in The Searchers (don't ever let anyone tell you Wayne didn't have chops; he did), Clint Eastwood's magnificently bleak Unforgiven, and what may be my favorite Western of all, Sergio Leone's operatically intense Once Upon a Time in the West. As a writer (and gay man) who seeks the freedom to practice his craft as a way of life, I can relate to a lot of what Orr says here about men in conflict with the soul-destroying characteristics of quotidian, modern life. Fascinating stuff.

Bronson in OUATITW. Every line in his face tells a story.


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