Movie Reviews

Brokeback Mountain -vs- Moffie

By Richard Emery

May 2021

Some people will question why I put these 2 films together. Well, they are both about hiding one’s homosexuality. Brokeback, directed in Ang Lee, in 2005 was a massively huge success. It turned it’s $14M budget into a whooping $178M return globally and won 141 awards including 3 Oscars. Whilst Moffie, written and directed by Oliver Hermanus in 2019, was a low budget movie returning only $28,000 and was sponsored by the Trade and Industry department of the South African government. It did win two film festival awards though which is great achievement in itself.

Moffie is a much more brutal film than Brokeback. It is set in 1981 when, unbeknownst to me until I watched the film, the South African government conscripted all white boys of 16 years of age into the army to fight the communists on the Angolan border which is very odd to me seeing as how Namibia and Botswana are both in between S. Africa and Angola but hey don’t let that detail get in the way of the brutality of the story. It also goes into great detail about apartheid and the disgusting way that it not only segregated blacks and whites but also the treatment of the black community.

In Brokeback both our boys, Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) do get to spend a lot of time together even though they both married their respective girlfriends. Whereas, Nicholas (played by the up and coming Kai Luke Brümmer)


has to hide his feelings but there is one really tender spot nearly half way through the film.

Both films do not have a happy ending. Jack having a particularly gruesome death at the hands of homophobes in Brokeback and Nicholas being devastated by what the government, through the army, has done to Dylan (Ryan de Villiers)

at Section 22. Which appears to be where the army experimented, tortured, and chemically castrated homosexuals. Whether, or not, this is true I don’t know but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

Both films are well above average and are well written and filmed although I personally thought that Brokeback could have been juicier and was a bit slow in places. Whereas Moffie was much more shocking, not with the homosexuality, but with the way the army treated the conscripts.

Having watched Brokeback recently it did come across a little dated but then it is 16 years old now.

Heath Ledger’s acting career was really going from strength to strength. The way he got into character in every role he took on was exceptional and his accidental overdose in 2008 was a real shame as his acting career had really taken off and his role as The Joker in The Dark Knight was just outstanding. A real tragedy!

Both are available on Amazon.