In this, our second of hopefully many Brokeback Mountain then-and-now articles we’ll do, we take a look at two separate scenes from the movie. In the first, the characters Ennis and Alma are getting married in a quaint little church and in the second setting they are seen at the drive in movie theatre. Both are very touching moments and it’s clear the couple are in love, but at the same time Ennis appears to be struggling with his feelings for her and there is an obvious pain showing on his face.
What interesting is that these scenes follow each other in the movie and were shot across the highway from each other. The first was filmed in the St Thomas’ Anglican church in Dinton Alberta, and a playground and ball field across the highway provided the location for the second.
We’ve made no attempt to duplicate the shots in the movie. The church of course would be impossible anyway since it was locked up (plus I’d burst into flames), so we’ll have to settle for an outside shot looking in. In spite of that limitation, there are many visible clues conforming it’s the same church. The panelling in the main room, the door with the rounded windows, the small stained glass pattern above it, the shape of the side windows – all features seen in the movie matching those in our pictures.
For the drive in scene there are no real landmarks to line up, but we know this is the location due to some research we’ve done. And no we did not use FindingBrokeBack.com or any other websites – that would be too easy – instead, we spoke with a member of the crew who shot the scenes, who gave us enough information that we were able to find the locations easily. They actually shot the drive in scene in the empty parking/camping spot just north of the play area and ball diamond, the only unobstructed open spots on the grounds.
Dinton’s little church dates from 1906 and this author has seen photos of it from around that time. In one shot it sits alone on the open prairie with little around it – no trees, no buildings, no nothing – just a number of horses and buggies in the church yard belonging to parishioners. Beyond these little bits not much can be found on its history. This of course invites further research and updates are possible.
It’s interesting to know they still hold services here, twice each month in fact. In the back section of the church yard there is a small cemetery. Right behind that is a community hall which I would guess is connected to the ball field across the highway and it’s assumed the latter is the staging and camping area for get-togethers happening at the church and hall.
Beside the kids playground and the baseball diamond, the “drive in” site has horseshoe pits and even a concession and cookhouse building with power.
If Dinton was ever an actual town this author has found nothing to confirm that. Outside of the church and hall and a newer house there is no indication of any other structures. Perhaps there were plans to establish a town here, or maybe it was just the name given to the general area, a likely possibility and needed by the post office for example so they could make deliveries. There are many such dots on the map in the west, a nondescript crossroad being a named point for an entire region.
These scenes from Brokeback Mountain were shot here in 2004, with the film being released the following year. It’s easy to see why they choose this church and it’s a perfect representation of a small town house of faith, one that is humble and unassuming.
Images from the movie are copyright Focus Features.
In our travels we found another very simple but photogenic Anglican Church in Carmangay Alberta, looking very much like the one seen in this report. To read about it, go here…
Little Church on the Prairie.
To see some other Brokeback Mountain then and now posts we’ve done, click these links…
Brokeback Mountain then and now – Signal Wy bar.
Brokeback Mountain then and now – finding dead body flashback.
Brokeback Mountain then and now – Riverton Wy bar.
If you wish more information on these places, by all means contact us!
Date: March, 2013.
Location: Dinton, AB.