The two Brokeback Mountain scenes shown in this report, that we will try to duplicate, were filmed in Fort MacLeod in southern Alberta. We see Ennis driving a truck, round a corner and then pull into his driveway. Two simple scenes shot from the same position, separated by only seconds.
Playing their part in the movie are two fairly distinct looking buildings, in reality the town’s Elk Lodge and community hall, and some nearby apartments that sit above a business. We take some time to visit the location to shoot what we hope are some near duplicates of those scenes and in the end do a pretty good job of it. That is in spite of the different aspect ratios, which we could not reproduce.
In the movie, it’s the late 1960s and we see Ennis’ and his truck enter the scene as he heads home. He lives in an apartment above a liquor store in behind the blue pickup. He shares this tiny flat with a his wife Alma and one of their daughters. At this stage in the movie, Ennis (played by Heath Ledger), has distanced himself from his dear friend and sometime secret lover Jack. That character, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, will soon pay a visit however, which will lead to Alma finding out about their forbidden affair.
In the first set of pictures we see a quonset style structure in the background which is clearly marked for the Elk’s Lodge (officially the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks). While that organization still uses the building today, it’s now also the town’s community hall. The exterior has had some work done on it since the movie was shot, but otherwise it’s still instantly recognisable.
In the next scene, Ennis is seen turning into his parking spot at his apartment building. In reality people really do live in the building and there are at least four or five suites here from the looks of it. One of the upper units was used in the film for both the exterior and interior shots. Duplicating the interior scenes never even crossed our minds. I mean who wants some strangers with cameras asking permission to enter their home? I wouldn’t and anyway those shots are just not that important.
The building seen is also home to business, a Source franchise. In the movie it was made up to appear as a liquor store on the one side, a laundry on the other, with some suites above.
In the movie, Fort MacLeod stands in for the town of Riverton Wyoming. It was not unique in respects to that and some other communities in the province, namely Blackie, Calgary and Crossfield and perhaps others, also doubled as that town. Many scenes shot in many towns were in fact, in the movie, supposedly all Riverton.
The movie dates from 2005 with the scenes being shot the year before. We find these locations without visiting any of the Brokeback Mountain fan sites, or for that matter with any other outside help. We use only our detective skills. By this method, it does takes time.
The truck that Ennis drives is a mid 1950s model commonly referred to as an Apache (also know by other names). Given the truck’s beat up condition, and lack of clearly visible nameplate, it’s not known if this is the Chevrolet or GMC version. Out side of some small details, the two are otherwise identical.
The streets in Fort MacLeod often have multiple names. The buildings seen here, located a little east of the historic downtown district, are at the corner of 3rd Avenue, also known as Archie Maclean Avenue and 25th Street, aka Jerry Potts Boulevard, aka the #3 Highway, aka the Crowsnest Highway. Confused yet?
We hoped a pickup would pass by so we could include it our pictures, you know to add authenticity, but none showed. Damn it was cold too and we did not want to wait too long.
If you are familiar with the movie, you know that nearly most of it was filmed in the province. Lucky for us since it provides us with lots of fodder for these types of posts. Expect more Brokeback Mountain then and now reports in the future. We love doing them!
Images from the movie are copyright Focus Features.
To see some other then and now posts from this film, follow any of these links…
Brokeback Mountain then and now – “Jack, I swear”.
Brokeback Mountain then and now – Signal Wyoming.
Brokeback Mountain then and now – Riverton Wy bar.
If you’d like to know more about what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: December, 2013.
Location: Fort MacLeod, AB.