Thursday, January 24, 2008

Heath Mountain

It's perhaps an odd thing but I found myself, last night, sitting down to watch Ang Lee's masterful Brokeback Mountain. I had said to myself that I was going to watch it as a celebration and a testement to sadly departed Heath Ledger. I found myself thinking that if I can get through Brokeback - climb over it and come back down again - then I'll be fine to move on.

May sound melodramatic, but it's true.

The death of Heath Ledger hit hard. It really will become one of the defining moments, just like the deaths of River Phoenix and James Dean before him. Heath was perhaps this generation's foremost contender for legend status. Hell, if the only performance he ever gave was his galvonising turn as Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain then he would still be a legend.

Some people won't get it, some people will dust it off as pure celebrity worship - I, and almost all of his fans too, didn't actually know the man. But that's the thing. We felt like we did! Only in death can it really be appreciated how strong the connection between Heath and his fans was. People see so much of Heath in the character of Ennis and vice versa. People see him and they think of that character and what he did as an actor and what it all represented. They think of him so fondly - an actor and a man that made the decision to do something that not many other people would even consider. He was a good person and when you lose someone who you have routinely let into your life, who you have watched make such an impact on people as Heath Ledger has, it's hard not to feel immensely pained.

And for anybody to die at the age of 28 is shocking, whether you knew them or not, and I think it's just plain ol' normal human emotion to feel sad, especially when they have such a young child and so much more to give the world. And, for me and most other Australians, it's a major blow. It's only natural to feel connected to your fellow countrymen. He was such a strong and powerful force in the Australian film industry, as well as around the world, routinely returning here to make movies.

But back to Brokeback Mountain. I surprised myself that I managed to get through it relatively unscathed. But there were moments throughout were I felt pangs of sadness. We'll never get to see Heath give anything like that performance ever again. We'll never see him walking down the streets with infant Matilda on his shoulders. We'll never see him strutting up the red carpet wearing striped socks, shorts, a backpack and tophat. We'll never see him grow into the man he wanted to be.

But as the credits rolled, I breathed. That was that. If I could get through Brokeback Mountain then I can get through everything else and I think it's alright to talk, type and move on to other topics. We need to be frivilous and trivial again. He will obviously be a popular and constant topic here on Stale Popcorn, but I feel like I want - and need - to focus on other things.

We'll miss you, Heath.

I leave this note with an image from Brokeback Mountain. The moment where Heath was his most beautiful - washing dishes in a stream.


JA said...

That's a great picture of him there at the end.

You're a stronger man than I, Glenn. I listened to a little of the soundtrack from BBM on Wednesday night on my subway ride home and began feeling overwhelmed again. I'm gonna give one of the movies of his I haven't seen yet a spin first; I just added Lords of Dogtown to my queue after reading this great article by Kim Morgan.

Kandyegirl said...

Well said, Glenn! I just watched Brokeback Mountain again for much the same reason.

XO ~