Brokeback Mountain is a 2005 American Romantic Drama that depicted the time frame between 1963 and 1983. Directed by Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain is a story of two homosexual men at a time of life when homosexuality was not just frowned upon but also seen as a crime. Ang Lee got attached to the project after previous attempts to do so went nary. The filming was finally confirmed when Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal got cast in the central roles in 2003. While the film stars Heath Ledger as Ennis Del Mar and Jake Gyllenhaal as Jack Twist, we are even accompanied by Michelle Willams and Anne Hathaway playing their respective wives. And even though it has been nearly 17 years since its initial release, people still question what happened at the end of the movie. So, this article will look into the Brokeback Mountain ending.
The film depicts a complex emotional and sexual relationship between two American male cowboys as they try to be together yet just can’t. This love story is one that caught people off guard as what it depicted was truly painful. There are people out there to this day who are terrified of coming out of their shells and showing their true selves. So a film that showed the adverse effects of being homosexual was only painful to watch. As the film ended, people were left with a few questions. These questions will be answered in this article as we get some insights provided by the film cast member as well.
What happens at the end of Brokeback Mountain?
As years pass by where Ennis and Jack would meet with one another on their infrequent fishing trips. During this, the two come to a conclusion that they won’t be able to be together. This was mainly because of the fear instilled by Ennis’ father, who he remembers beating up a homosexual for catching him in the act. Sadly the pair break off after they have an argument ending with them embracing one another.
Sometime later, Ennis sends a postcard to Jack that returns back to him with a stamp that says “Deceased.” He is quick to call Jack’s wife Lureen, from whom he finds out that Jack had died in an accident in which a car tire exploded in his face. But Ennis visualizes a death formulated from his deepest of fears. He thinks of how Jack may have died due to a hate crime. Lureen even tells Jack how her husband wanted her ashes to be scattered across Brokeback Mountain. So, Ennis heads off to meet Jack’s parents. But his father denies his request claiming that he would rather have it scattered across his family plot.
Ennis is led to Jack’s bedroom by his mother, where he finds his own blood-stained shirt hung next to Jack’s shirts. Ennis could only hold his shirt as he silently weeps into it. Later, when Ennis’s 19-year-old daughter is engaged. She comes to him to get his blessings for the wedding that Ennis eventually agrees to. As Ennis heads to the closet, he sees Jack’s shirt hung with his shirts with the Brokeback postcard tacked above. He stares at the ensemble with tear-filled eyes, after which he walks away saying, “Jack, I swear…”
Brokeback Mountain Ending Explained
First and foremost, the film does not do justice to its audience without truly showing what happened with Jack. As much as Lureen says that he was killed due to a tire exploding at his face, the truth may be far from it. The movie had foreshadowed instances where Jack could have been killed. In an earlier scene, we see Jack hitting on a man in the bar. As the cowboy walks away to talk to his friend in the corner, few men stare down Jack with pure hatred. And anyone could imagine how things could have easily escalated to Jack dying in one of such situations.
Jack would often try to complete his desires by hooking up with men, so being killed during one of his endeavors could not be that far off from the truth. Moreover, the film makes no attempt at proving Ennis’s fears wrong. So, this situation could likely even have been true.
In a 2010 interview with the NPR Program “Fresh Air,” Anne Hathaway revealed how she herself is unaware of what happened with Jack. In the film where Lureen has the phone call with Ennis, it had two takes. One where Lureen tells Ennis how she knew of her husband being gay and going out to hook up with them. Another one was the one in which Lureen just told Ennis about how Jack died due to a tire exploding at his face. Eventually, instead of taking either of the takes, both of them were edited together. Anne herself has no idea why Ang had this done. But she believes that Ang Lee must have some reasons for this, and therefore she left it at the ambiguity, making it the truly heartbreaking part of the movie.
Did Lureen really know of Jack’s homosexuality?
It is pretty given that throughout the years, Lureen might have found out about her husband’s sexual endeavors. This could be backed up by Anne Hathaway’s interview where she claimed that she did have a take in which Lureen claimed to know about her husband being gay. But this never really came up on screens. Nevertheless, she tells Ennis how her husband wanted his ashes to be scattered across the Brokeback Mountain. From her perspective, the mountain was the place where Jack might have grown up in. But in actuality, that’s a sort of sanctuary for Jack meeting up with Ennis.
In the movie, there are instances where Lureen tells other women how her husband never wanted to “dance” with her. Dance here was a connotation towards having sex. She even goes on to say that she told her husband not to “drink.” This was her way of saying that she even asked her husband not to commit the act of homosexuality. But not listening to her, Jack often “drank.” As she said this, her eyes were filled with tears meaning that she probably knew of Jack going out to meet Ennis to have sexual relations.
One of these outings was probably also the reason for Jack’s death at the hands of homophobes. Lureen had to officially tell people how he died from a tire explosion. While he actually died of a beating at the hands of a hate crime. And from the conversation she has with Ennis, we could imagine that both of them knew the truth.
What does the “Jack, I swear…” scene mean?
Throughout his life, Ennis loved Jack, but as life passed on, he was even gifted with two daughters that he loved as well. Fearing his dad, Ennis had feared coming out as a gay man. Due to this, he was never truly able to be with Jack. There were many instances where he could have left with Jack and lived a close to happily ever after situation, but he chose not to. Even if he did, given where he lived, it could have been very dangerous to both of their lives. Due to this ever-impending fear, Ennis refused to make Jack his priority by creating time and space for him. He never really took him for granted; nevertheless, he always tried to push Jack away. This was very evident from the fight they had before they split from one another.
Now Ennis’ daughter, Alma Jr., was engaged and had come to him to take his blessings for the wedding. In the beginning, he refuses to come to the wedding but then he realizes how he pushed away from the ones he loved. So, he agrees to come to the wedding, making a choice to out relationships first from henceforth. This could also be his way to support her daughter’s wishes, unlike his dad. Ennis’s dad only hurt him through his words and action and have only instilled fear within him. As Ennis heads to the closet, he sees Jack’s shirt and says, “Jack, I swear…”. This could be interpreted as Ennis saying that he would never again make a mistake to push his loved ones aside. His pushing away Jack led to his death, and he didn’t want this to occur with his daughters.
Where to watch Brokeback Mountain?
You can watch Brokeback Mountain online as the movie is available to stream on Netflix and iTunes. If you do not wish to subscribe to any OTT platform, you can even rent or buy the movie on Amazon Prime Video, DirecTV, Microsoft Store, Google Play, and Vudu.