“Brokeback Mountain” broke boundaries in terms of Hollywood’s portrayal of queer lives on the big screen when it was released in 2005. But it might have been a much different picture if Pedro Almodóvar directed it.
In a wide-ranging interview on The Empire Film Podcast, the openly gay Almodóvar, who had originally been slated to direct “Brokeback,” explained how his take on the story of an unexpected romance between two cowboys would’ve differed from the iconic Ang Lee version, starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. (Watch the trailer for the movie above.)
“More sex, more sex ― and this is not gratuitous. Annie Proulx’s story is about a physical relationship, an animal relation,” the 66-year-old said. “So sex is necessary, because it is the body of the story. So I always had the image... these two guys start making love to each other like the animals they were taking care of.”
You can listen to the full Empire podcast below. The director’s remarks about “Brokeback” can be found at 54:20. Keep scrolling to read more.
Pointing to Proulx’s original text, the characters of Ennis del Mar (Ledger) and Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal) began having a physical relationship because it was “almost a way to survive in the mountains,” he said, but in the end, “they discover it was something else and they were surprised ― it was like a big accident.”
The “Bad Education” and “Volver” director has never shied away from depicting steamy, same-sex love scenes on film. His 1987 film, “Law of Desire,” was described by some critics as a gay take on “Fatal Attraction,” and featured Antonio Banderas in a number of racy same-sex love scenes.
Still, Almodóvar was quick to stress that he doesn’t want to shade Lee or the movie’s stars, whom he described as “incredible,” with his remarks. In the end, he said he’s not sure Hollywood would’ve gone for a sexed-up approach to “Brokeback Mountain,” which ended up winning three Academy Awards in 2006.
“I think my point of view was not easy to make,” he said.
While “Brokeback Mountain” is undoubtedly a milestone film, one can’t help but wonder what those steamy scenes would’ve looked like with Almodóvar at the helm.