Was Pedro Almodóvar’s ‘Brokeback Mountain’ Too Steamy For Hollywood?

Even if foreign films have a hard time of making it in the United States, Pedro Almodóvar has managed to gain a pretty stunning level of recognition despite the fact that he has yet to make a film in English. All About My Mother and Talk To Her both earned Pedro an Oscar win, with the latter netting Best Original Screenplay in competition with domestic releases. Almodóvar is also much to credit for the meteoric crossover success of Penelope Cruz, who first began appearing in his films with Live Flesh in 1997. That trajectory, however, might have been even more impressive if Pedro had been the director of the iconic Brokeback Mountain — and he almost was.

Almodóvar seems like the perfect director for the movie. His work is some of the most defining of gay cinema, not just in his native Spain, but in the rest of the world. Moreover, they often bleed “Hollywood” onto the screen: Pedro is open about the huge influence gay icons like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford have played on his penchant for strong female leads. Still, Almodóvar tells the Financial Times, he wasn’t sure if his signature hyper-sexual style would have flown with Brokeback Mountain’s financial backers.

“I might make a film in English but not necessarily in Hollywood. They offered me ‘Brokeback Mountain’ but I had many doubts. Thinking about it, I don’t know if I made a mistake or not [in turning it down].”

While fans of Pedro’s work and gay cinema in general might get excited by the idea of a filmmaker with such a flamboyant style taking on what was easily the most high-profile gay movie ever made at the time, Almodóvar notes that he might have taken Brokeback Mountain a step too far for the mainstream audiences that the movie attracted.

“They promised me total artistic freedom and final cut but it was a story that was so physical — it’s not just that the characters sleep together once — and that has to be there. I think Ang Lee went as far as he could and I like his version very much. But I always imagined it differently and I don’t think I would have been able to make it the way I wanted. They wouldn’t have let me.”

Do you think Pedro Almodóvar would have done a better job at bringing Brokeback Mountain to life?

[Image via Focus Features]

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