It was a chilly but sunny day a little over two years ago when, on a whim, Honey and I decided to drive over two hours to the nearest movie theater that was featuring Brokeback Mountain. The film company was rolling the movie out slowly, part of an ingenious marketing strategy that used word of mouth as its main form of advertising. Online message boards were buzzing with tidbits and spoilers about this groundbreaking film that featured two gorgeous, young Hollywood actors in the most unexpected roles.
We arrived early, took our seats at the rear of the theater, and then watched in amazement as the room filled to capacity. Not bad for a film showing in the middle of the day and dealing with a controversial subject.
But that was what was so astounding about the movie; aside from a brief physical scene early in the film, there was nothing that seemed to make anyone in the theater the least bit uncomfortable. This was a story about love, and love doesn’t always fit into our preconceived and somewhat narrow-minded formulas.
While most of the film’s hype had been centered around the tall, dark, and handsome Jake Gyllenhaal, it was Mr. Ledger that caught my attention. He was quiet, brooding, and tortured – probably a reflection of his personality off-camera – and it was terribly easy to fall in love with him.
The saddest part of the film was the ending, where a lonely and dejected Ledger weeps as he looks at a pair of shirts hanging on his closet door – a tattered denim shirt that once belonged to his lover, now hanging embraced inside one of his own.
The news this evening was a shocking lesson in reality, and a reminder that money and fame almost never brings true happiness. I couldn’t help picturing Heath in a terrible moment of despair, something akin to the pain he portrayed in the film. Some reports say that he had been having trouble sleeping recently after playing a rather demonic character in an upcoming movie, which might explain the sleeping pills found by his side.
Many people believe that suicide is a mortal sin, one that will surely send the perpetrator to a place of eternal damnation. I disagree. I just can’t believe that a loving God would punish a person for trying to end their pain. I prefer to think that much like those two shirts at the end of Brokeback Mountain, right now, somewhere up in heaven, God has Heath all wrapped up in his love.