Gustavo Santaolalla Climbs to the Top of the Mountain

Posted in MusicWorld on June 12, 2006 by

Noted composer Gustavo Santaolalla said when he first got the script to the Oscar-winning movie Brokeback Mountain, he saw it as a romantic tale.

“I always saw it as a story of love. I compared what was different or similar to a traditional love story. These personalities get married, have families, and it just never really hit me as a gay movie,” Santaolalla said in a recent interview.

Santaolalla won the Oscar for Best Original Score for Brokeback Mountain. “It was a universal movie that happened to have a moment in the movie where there was a relationship between two men. But I think it's not a movie that was meant for a community. I think it really has the universal thing and at the end of the day, it has meaning for all of us.

“I don't think it matters what religion or genre you are. At the end of the day, even though we may all be different, we're all very similar and there is a common thread which unites us and that is love, solitude, and pain.”

The film stars Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal and Randy Quaid.

The soundtrack for Brokeback Mountain, which was produced by Santaolalla, won a Golden Globe for “A Love That Will Never Grow Old.”

Latin alternative fans will recognize Santaolalla from his production work on Juanes, Molotov, Julieta Venegas and Café Tacuba.

He has also won the BAFTA Award for his original score on the film Motorcycle Diaries and the Flanders Film Festival's best original score in Belgium for his work on 21 Grams. He also scored North Country and the critically acclaimed Amores Perros.

The Brokeback Mountain soundtrack also features tunes by Emmylou Harris, Mary McBride, Rufus Wainwright, Linda Ronstadt, Steve Earle and Willie Nelson.

Working on rock artists may seem quite a bit different than working on movie soundtracks, but Santaolalla says it's still all about getting to know the artists, or in this case, the film director, on what they hope to accomplish.

“In movies, I have been lucky to work with big name directors — Gonzalez Iñárritu, Walter Salles, Niki Caro and Ang Lee,” Santaolalla said from his Los Angeles office. “These are talented directors who have big stories to tell and they tell it very well. “So what you don't want to do with the music is interrupt the storyline in any way. The music is simply a backdrop over the story and the personalities.”