- Alternative Character Interpretation:
- Though the setting makes them sympathetic for doing so, regardless of one's views on homosexuality, this is still a story about two guys unapologetically cheating on their wives for twenty years.
- What prompted Ennis' father to show him the dead gay man? Did he suspect that his son wasn't straight and was trying to scare him? Or was there no prompting and he just wanted to instill his prejudices into his son at an impressionable age?
- Is Lureen telling the truth about Jack's death? Does she genuinely believe that her husband's death was because of an accident or does she know all along about Jack's sexuality and that his death was the result of a hate-crime? The fact that Anne Hathaway claims that she herself didn't know, they recorded the scene twice with two motivations in mind, and they mashed together the result as the final cut doesn't help.
- Award Snub: Movie critics generally see the decision to award Crash with Best Picture over Brokeback as one of the biggest Oscar mistakes of the decade, if not all time. It's become an even greater consensus in the years since, as Crash has not aged well compared to that year's other Best Picture contenders. The voters are commonly accused of wimping out by awarding a movie with the relatively safe message of "racism is bad."
- Awesome Music: The music from the trailer ("The Wings") is very touching, and it became a staple of Slashy Fan Vids. But it's very cool on its own merits.
- Best Known for the Fanservice: The way people talk about this movie, you'd think it consists solely of Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal having sex in a tent, plus a part with Anne Hathaway topless.
- Fridge Brilliance: When Ennis finds his and Jack's shirts hanging in Jack's childhood closet, Ennis's is tucked inside Jack's. By Heath Ledger's idea, they are reversed when Ennis takes them home after Jack's death. The shirts can also be interpreted as each other's heart. Jack putting Ennis's shirt inside his indicates that Ennis has always been inside Jack's heart. Ennis putting Jack's shirt inside his symbolizes that Jack will always be in Ennis's heart. Annie Proulx approved so much of this detail that, years later, she included it in the libretto for the opera adaptation.
- Genre Turning Point: The film's smashing critical and financial success (growing a whopping more than 10 times its budget for a movie marketed explicitly as a gay love story) along with its infamous Award Snub in the 2006 Oscar has opened the floodgate for queer entertainment to enter the mainstream that isn't relying on stereotypes.
- Harsher in Hindsight: Ledger's death in 2008 could make Jack dying while Ennis survives all the more ironic.
- The original story was published in The New Yorker on October 13, 1997. Matthew Shepard (a gay college student in Laramie) was murdered in October 1998.
- Heartwarming Moments:
- The second night in the tent; Not only is it the first tender, romantic scene in the film, it also seems to be the first time that Ennis ever experienced any kind of physical love and/or affection from anybody. Plus Jack is very gentle and patient with Ennis, in spite of his nervousness of being with another man.
- While it is unknown whether or not Jack's mother knew her son was gay, unlike her husband, she is kind and hospitable towards Ennis when he arrives (offering him coffee and cherry cake), allows him to keep the shirts from Jack's closet (which Jack kept all those years since their first time on the mountain), and even invites him to return if he wishes to.
- Ennis deciding to call off work for his daughter's wedding, and giving his daughter and her fiancee his blessing; "To Alma and Kurt!"
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Several.
- Part of the reason for all the jokes about the premise (and the subsequent misinformation about the men's jobs) was a South Park gag from years before Brokeback Mountain was made about all independent movies being about "gay cowboys eating pudding"; there may not be any pudding, but otherwise... In fact, Trey Parker and Matt Stone commented in an interview:Stone: If they have pudding in that movie, Im going to lose my mind.
Parker: No, if theres pudding eating in there, were going to sue.
- Jake Gyllenhaal's sister Maggie Gyllenhaal played Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight, in which Ledger played The Joker. Her character dies, too. This is also followed with how in the next film, Anne Hathaway went to star as another major character.
- Likewise, in The Dark Knight Maggie Gyllenhaal's character is killed by Heath Ledger (The Joker), who played her brother's lover in "Brokeback Mountain!"
- For that matter, Jake was apparently considered for the role of Harvey Dent.
- For Batman, before Batman Begins was in production. That would have put a whole new spin on Joker's line "You complete me." (...okay, maybe exactly the same spin.)
- Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway played lovers in Love and Other Drugs.
- Jake Gyllenhaal would ultimately follow in his co-star's footsteps as another monstrous portrayal of a comic book villain.
- Part of the reason for all the jokes about the premise (and the subsequent misinformation about the men's jobs) was a South Park gag from years before Brokeback Mountain was made about all independent movies being about "gay cowboys eating pudding"; there may not be any pudding, but otherwise... In fact, Trey Parker and Matt Stone commented in an interview:
- Hype Aversion / Hype Backlash: Being the most well-known gay romance movie has landed the movie into both sides of this camp.
- Jerkass Woobie: Jack and Ennis unapologetically cheat on their respective wives and had an affair with each other, constantly lying for years. Despite, or maybe because of this, they are miserable in the decades that follow their meeting on Brokeback Mountain, unable to have fulfilling and steady lives with both each other and their own respective private lives. Even factoring the cheating nature of it, nobody deserves the suffering.
- Ennis, instilled by his father that homosexuality is bad by having to see the gruesome corpse of a suspected homosexual tortured by townsfolk at the age of nine, is torn between his feelings toward Jack, his family life (especially his daughter), and the social stigma of two men living together. As a result, everything in his life falls apart; He and his wife get divorced, he was unable to find love with another woman even though Cassie falls for him, he financially struggled all by himself due to child support obligation to the point he has to live in a small trailer with few furnishings by the end of the movie, and he had no chance to further his relationship with Jack aside from occasional "fishing trips," breaking his heart time and time again, because he was afraid of people's persecution. Worse, he learned how deep and serious Jack's feelings had been toward him right after he found out Jack had died, denying him of a chance for another happiness in life.
- Jack obviously had a strong feelings for Ennis and was serious about forming a relationship with him, once planning on building a cabin together on his family's ranch for them to live together and help "lick the ranch into shape." However, Ennis couldn't reciprocate because of his own problems above leaving him anguished for a very long time, unable to move on for 20 years. Despite having better financial condition, he is trapped in an unhappy marriage where Lureen seemingly cares more about her job than her family and his father-in-law obviously doesn't like him. In particular, after hearing Ennis had a divorce with his wife, Jack immediately drove to Ennis's, thinking that things between him and Ennis could finally change and Ennis had finally decided to live with him only to go back in tears after another rejection. When it looked like he was able to move on from his love to Ennis as indicated by his father saying he invited another man to work on the ranch and planned to leave Lureen, he had to die before he was able to find happiness in what implied to be a hate-crime disguised as accident.
- Memetic Mutation:
- "I wish I knew how to quit you."
- "Brokeback" has pretty much become synonymous with "gay". For example, "No Brokeback!" is the battle cry of guys with man-crushes, while "Playing Brokeback" has entered the modern Hong Kong vocabulary, meaning homosexual relationships.
- The music of "The Wings," just put the music over clips (with The Shawshank Redemption theme in the second half of the clip) with Heterosexual Life-Partners from pop culture franchises like Star Trek, Back to the Future, and Harry Potter, it becomes instantly gay. It's extremely popular for making Fan Vids.
- "Sometimes I miss you so much I can hardly stand it"
- "This is a goddamn bitch of an unsatisfactory situation."
- Nightmare Fuel: Ennis's childhood flashback of seeing a man (deemed as a homosexual) mutilated and killed, with his corpse lying in an irrigation ditch.
- Likewise, the scene in which Jack is beaten to death mercilessly by homophobic thugs, which may or may not have been the case (according to the viewer).
- Periphery Demographic: Amusingly, a lot of the Fix Fic sent to the author of the original short story is sent from straight men.
- Retroactive Recognition:
- Tear Jerker:
- In particular, the two shirts.
- The speech leading up to "I wish I knew how to quit you". Despite going memetic, the line in context was very emotional.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Lureen Newsome, who did nothing of importance in the final third of the movie. She didn't even react to the confrontation between Jack and her father! This is even more notable in the story in which she only appeared in one scene (to tell Ennis about Jack's death).
- What an Idiot!: Ennis and Jack go on infrequent fishing trips, in which they're actually cheating on their wives. They have been doing this for sixteen years by the end of the film.
You'd Expect: They bring home some fish, or at least touch the fishing equipment to keep up with the lie, especially knowing that Ennis's wife and daughters love fish.
Instead: They didn't try to fish anything while saying they caught a lot of fish without bringing any home. Worse, Ennis didn't even open his creel case once as later noted by Alma when she said the note she put inside was still there. Granted, she already knew her husband was cheating but at least Ennis could try.
- What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Some parents took their kids to see the film just because it was about cowboys. However, it revolves around a gay relationship, has multiple sex scenes, and in the end, one of the main characters is beaten to death. Even worse, Common Sense Media gives this film as a recommendation to tamer movies for teens like Titanic and Call Me by Your Name, even going as far to put it on a list of the best LGBTQ movies to watch with people that age.
- The Woobie: Alma, who only wishes for a happy family, witnesses her husband passionately kissing another man. Let alone the homosexual nature of the relationship, she sees her husband cheating while they had been financially struggling with two kids to raise. She was aware that the fishing trips were all just a facade and she could pick the sign that her husband's love gradually diminished. She is still emotionally scarred from the experience even after their divorce, as seen during the Thanksgiving scene.
YMMV / Brokeback Mountain