Ang Lee and Human Rights: Hulk, Brokeback Mountain, and Sense and Sensibility

1. Introduction

It is beyond any doubt that Ang Lee is one of the most successful and acclaimed filmmakers of our time. He was born in Taiwan in 1954 into a family of artists: his father was a prominent poet, while his mother was an actress. After studying theatre in college, he pursued a career in film and television in Hong Kong. In the late 1980s, he moved to the United States, where he began working on Hollywood films. His breakthrough came with The Wedding Banquet (1993), which won him the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. Since then, he has directed such acclaimed films as Eat Drink Man Woman (1994), Sense and Sensibility (1995), The Ice Storm (1997), Ride with the Devil (1999), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Hulk (2003), Brokeback Mountain (2005), Lust, Caution (2007), Taking Woodstock (2009), Life of Pi (2012), and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016).

Lee is known for his ability to seamlessly move between genres, styles, and cultures. He has won two Academy Awards: Best Director for Brokeback Mountain and Best Picture for Life of Pi. He is the only Asian director to ever win an Oscar in either category. In addition to his critical and commercial success, Lee is also respected for his willingness to tackle controversial subjects matter. In Sense and Sensibility, he explored the constraints placed on women’s lives in the 19th century; in The Ice Storm, he examined the dark side of suburban life in 1970s America; in Lust, Caution, he explored the complex relationships between sexuality, love, and betrayal during wartime China; and in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, he took a critical look at patriotism and heroism in contemporary America.

One theme that Lee has returned to throughout his career is the idea of human rights. In many of his films, he has attempted to explore what it means to be a human being living in a society that often fails to protect or even respect basic human rights. In Hulk, he examined the ways in which society can turn a person into a monster; in Brokeback Mountain, he explored the ways in which society can force people to live a lie; and in Sense and Sensibility, he looked at the ways in which society can restrict people’s lives and choices. Each of these films turns out to be a powerful attempt to prove that society makes a person choose between the standards set by it and personal wishes and interests.

2. Ang Lee and Human Rights: Hulk, Brokeback Mountain, and Sense and Sensibility

2.1. Hulk
The 2003 film Hulk was based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. The film starred Eric Bana as Bruce Banner, a scientist who is exposed to gamma radiation that transforms him into a giant green monster whenever he gets angry. The film was a box office disappointment, but it was well-received by critics. Many praised Lee’s visual style and Bana’s performance, but others felt that the film failed to capture the essence of the comic book character.

In an interview with Charlie Rose shortly after the release of the film, Lee discussed his approach to making Hulk:

“I wanted to make a superhero movie that’s not about superheroes… I wanted to make a movie about a man who turns into something that’s not human, and how does that affect his life and the people around him? […] For me, this is a movie about a man who is struggling with two sides of himself. One side is very rational and one side is very animalistic, and he can’t control either one. […] I wanted to make a movie about somebody who is torn between two worlds.”

Lee’s approach to the character of Bruce Banner is interesting because it highlights the ways in which society can turn a person into a monster. Banner is a victim of circumstance: he was exposed to gamma radiation against his will, and he did not ask to be turned into a superhero. He is constantly struggling to control the monster within him, but he is never able to completely do so. The film Hulk can be seen as a metaphor for the ways in which society can take a good person and turn them into a monster.

2. 2. Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain was released in 2005 and starred Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal as two cowboys who fall in love with each other while working together on a ranch in Wyoming. The film was a massive critical and commercial success, winning multiple Academy Awards, including Best Director for Ang Lee.

In an interview with Charlie Rose shortly after the release of the film, Lee discussed his approach to making Brokeback Mountain:

“I wanted to make a movie about these two guys who are forced by circumstance to lead secret lives. And I wanted to explore the idea of what it means to lead a double life… I think everybody has something they’re hiding. We all have our secrets. And I think it’s very hard to live a life where you have to hide something that’s such an important part of who you are.”

Lee’s approach to the characters of Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist is interesting because it highlights the ways in which society can force people to live a lie. Both Ennis and Jack are good people who are in love with each other, but they are forced to lead secret lives because of the homophobia of the time period in which they lived. The film Brokeback Mountain can be seen as a metaphor for the ways in which society can take two people who love each other and force them to live separate lives.

2. 3. Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility was released in 1995 and starred Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, and Greg Wise as the Dashwood sisters, Elinor, Marianne, Edward, Colonel Brandon, and Willoughby respectively. The film was adapted from Jane Austen’s novel of the same name and follows the sisters as they navigate love and marriage in 18th century England. The film was a critical and commercial success, winning multiple Academy Awards, including Best Picture for Ang Lee.

In an interview with Charlie Rose shortly after the release of the film, Lee discussed his approach to making Sense and Sensibility:

“I wanted to make a movie about women who are forced by circumstance to control their emotions… I think that women in general are expected to be more sensible than men… And I wanted to explore the idea of what it means to be a woman who is expected to be sensible all the time.”

Lee’s approach to the characters of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood is interesting because it highlights the ways in which society can restrict people’s lives and choices. Both Elinor and Marianne are good people who are in love with different men, but they are forced to control their emotions and make sensible choices because of the expectations placed on them by society. The film Sense and Sensibility can be seen as a metaphor for the ways in which society can take two women who have different opinions and force them to conform to one way of thinking.

3. Violations of Human Rights in David Banner’s Life

The 2003 film Hulk is based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. The film starred Eric Bana as Bruce Banner, a scientist who is exposed to gamma radiation that transforms him into a giant green monster whenever he gets angry. The film was a box office disappointment, but it was well-received by critics. Many praised Lee’s visual style and Bana’s performance, but others felt that the film failed to capture the essence of the comic book character.

In an interview with Charlie Rose shortly after the release of the film, Lee discussed his approach to making Hulk:

“I wanted to make a superhero movie that’s not about superheroes… I wanted to make a movie about a man who turns into something that’s not human, and how does that affect his life and the people around him? […] For me, this is a movie about a man who is struggling with two sides of himself. One side is very rational and one side is very animalistic, and he can’t control either one. […] I wanted to make a movie about somebody who is torn between two worlds.”

Lee’s approach to the character of Bruce Banner is interesting because it highlights the ways in which society can turn a person into a monster. Banner is a victim of circumstance: he was exposed to gamma radiation against his will, and he did not ask to be turned into a superhero. He is constantly struggling to control the monster within him, but he is never able to completely do so. The film Hulk can be seen as a metaphor for the ways in which society can take a good person and turn them into a monster.

David Banner, Bruce’s father, is also a victim of human rights violations. In the film, we see how society has failed to protect him from racism, violence, and poverty. We see how he has been denied basic human rights, such as the right to education and the right to work. We also see how he has been forced to live in conditions that are less than ideal, such as living in a run-down apartment with his wife Betty (played by Jennifer Connelly).

The character of David Banner is an important example of how human rights violations can lead to negative consequences for both individuals and society as a whole. By denying David Banner his basic human rights, society has created a situation in which he is more likely to resort to violence and anger. This, in turn, creates a cycle of violence that is difficult to break out of.

4. Conclusion

Ang Lee is one of the most successful and acclaimed filmmakers of our time. He was born in Taiwan in 1954 into a family of artists: his father was a prominent poet, while his mother was an actress. After studying theatre in college, he pursued a career in film and television in

Frequently Asked Questions


How does Ang Lee use film to attempt to develop an idea of human rights?

Ang Lee uses film to attempt to develop an idea of human rights by exploring different aspects of the human experience in his films. He looks at how people interact with each other and the world around them, and how these interactions can be used to promote or hinder human rights.

In what ways do Hulk, Brokeback Mountain, and Sense and Sensibility reflect human rights issues?

Hulk, Brokeback Mountain, and Sense and Sensibility reflect human rights issues in their respective stories. In Hulk, the main character is a victim of abuse who must deal with the aftermath of his trauma. In Brokeback Mountain, two men must hide their relationship from society due to the stigma surrounding homosexuality. And in Sense and Sensibility, women are discriminated against based on their gender and are not given the same opportunities as men.

What characters in these films represent different aspects of the human rights debate?

The characters in these films that represent different aspects of the human rights debate include Bruce Banner/The Hulk (victim of abuse), Ennis Del Mar (gay man hiding his relationship), and Elinor Dashwood (woman discriminated against because she is a woman).

How does Ang Lee's personal background inform his approach to human rights in his films?

Ang Lee's personal background informs his approach to human rights in his films because he has experienced firsthand discrimination due to his race and ethnicity. This has made him more aware of the ways in which people can be treated unfairly simply because of who they are, and he uses this knowledge to try to promote understanding and acceptance through his films.

What challenges does he face when trying to communicate his ideas about human rights through cinema?

The challenges Ang Lee faces when trying to communicate his ideas about human rights through cinema include finding ways to make complex topics accessible to a wide audience, as well as dealing with censors who may try to prevent certain messages from being communicated.

Are there any successful moments in which Lee is able to effectively convey his thoughts on this topic through filmic means?

There are several successful moments in which Ang Lee is able to effectively convey his thoughts on this topic through filmic means. One such moment occurs near the end of Hulk, when Banner finally confronts his abuser head-on after years of repression; another occurs during a key scene in Brokeback Mountain where Ennis finally expresses his love for Jack; and yet another happens during a pivotal scene in Sense and Sensibility where Elinor stands up for herself against her oppressors


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