Law Text Culture


One evening, almost a decade ago, at a smart dinner party held in Northcote, an inner suburb of Melbourne, the utterly fabulous and now, sadly, late Penny Pether turned to me after some discussion of the then recent American gay rights decision, the Supreme Court’s landmark Lawrence v Texas, and suggested, with her customary forthrightness that I should write about the case within the context of a film that both of us had only lately seen (her, on an aeroplane from America; me, at my local cinema in Brisbane), and which each of us, as we had discovered earlier in the conversation, had thoroughly enjoyed.1 The film was unique, having begun its cinematic life as a modest art house production made on what was, by Hollywood standards, a shoestring.2 By the time though that Penny and I spoke of the film, it had become a huge international blockbuster, winning a raft of prizes,3 garnering critical acclaim,4 and scoring staggering box office returns.5 That film was (and is), of course, Taiwanese Ang Lee’s masterful screen adaptation (2005; 2006)6 of Annie Proulx’s dazzling New Yorker short story, ‘Brokeback Mountain’ (1997; 2005). Ostensibly a ‘Western’7 – but one with a ‘twist’, to indulge in a characterological pun; that is, punning on the literary and cinematic character, ‘Jack Twist’, played by Jake Gyllenhaal in the film, and his ‘twisted’, or at least bent sexuality.