Brokeback Mountain is set to be inducted to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry on Wednesday (December 12).
The widely acclaimed Oscar-winning 2005 film, which stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal as gay cowboy lovers, will be one of 25 productions selected this year for inclusion in the Registry.
Brokeback Mountain becomes the most recent film included in the Registry, which now features a total 750 titles—all deemed worthy of preservation for future generations due to their “cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the nation’s film heritage,” according to the Library of Congress.
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said: “The National Film Registry turns 30 this year and for those three decades, we have been recognising, celebrating and preserving this distinctive medium.
“These cinematic treasures must be protected because they document our history, culture, hopes and dreams.”
Brokeback Mountain director shares his vision
Director Ang Lee told the Library of Congress that he was shocked at the overwhelming response the film received when it was first released.
“To my great surprise, the film ended up striking a deep chord with audiences”
— Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee
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“I didn’t intend to make a statement with Brokeback Mountain,” said Lee, who has also directed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Life of Pi.
“I simply wanted to tell a purely Western love story between two cowboys.
“To my great surprise, the film ended up striking a deep chord with audiences. The movie became a part of the culture, a reflection of the darkness and light—of violent prejudice and enduring love—in the rocky landscape of the American heart.
“More than a decade has passed since Brokeback Mountain was released, but I hope that this film, a small movie with wide open spaces, continues to express something both fresh and fundamental about my adopted country.”
Brokeback Mountain could have been very different
The barrier-breaking film, which was in development for eight years, went through a succession of “prominent young actors” for the main roles before landing on Ledger and Gyllenhaal, screenwriter Diana Ossana said earlier this year.
Mark Wahlberg and Matt Damon were both asked to play the leading parts, but Ossana said they refused the roles and “didn’t give us any real excuse why they wouldn’t (play them).
“I guess they saw it as too difficult.”
Filmmaker Gus Van Sant, who was initially attached to Brokeback Mountain, told IndieWire in July he wanted to cast “big names” for the lead roles, but “nobody wanted to do it.”
“I was working on it, and I felt like we needed a really strong cast, like a famous cast. That wasn’t working out. I asked the usual suspects: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Ryan Phillippe. They all said no,” said the openly-gay director, who eventually dropped out of the movie due to creative differences with the screenwriter.