Heath Ledger died today and I’m thinking of Brokeback Mountain and Wyoming

Wow! I am truly in shock. I was writing up another post and swung over to The New York Times on line when I saw Heath Ledger was found dead today. How awful and how odd. I just saw him this weekend in the movie “I’m Not There” and earlier today, before I heard he had died, I thought, you know, when I think of Heath Ledger, he’s Ennis Del Mar working on a ranch in Wyoming. What is he doing playing an incarnation of Bob Dylan? Yes, yes, I know it’s acting, but there are some roles and some landscape vistas that go together so well that they play over and over in ones head as if there is a movie camera in there.

The summer after I saw “Brokeback Mountain” we drove through Wyoming on our way from Colorado to Montana and back through Wyoming again. I thought of Ennis and wondered how he was doing without Jack. Again, yes, yes, I know Ennis is a fictitious character created by Annie Proulx, but still, her short story and the movie captured a certain quality of Wyoming so perfectly. (Yes, I know that it was shot in Canada, but it looked like Wyoming.)

As I recently posted, John Ur is writing about movies that capture a sense of place. “Brokeback Mountain” is one that certainly does that. And without Heath Ledger, “Brokeback Mountain” wouldn’t have been the same kind of movie that made people look at Wyoming in a new, different way.