Depicts the remarkable life of artist Don Bachardy and his relationship with the distinguished writer Christopher Isherwood. Includes footage shot by Chris and Don in the 1950s and interviews with Leslie Caron, John Boorman, Liza Minnelli, and others. Isherwood and Bachardy were open about their life together, regardless of the waves it caused. This was during a period when gay relationships were not acceptable. The age difference in their relationship brought obvious personal problems that had to be addressed. Don often felt disregarded by Chris's famous friends and frequently was. Nevertheless, Bachardy pursued his art career with great energy, painting and drawing every day. Finding a vocation gave Don a sense of fulfillment and independence. He began to realize that he could function independently, which made him question whether he wanted to stay with Isherwood. Don toyed with leaving the relationship and striking out on his own, however he decided not to as he realized his love ... Written by
Asphalt Stars Productions
This documentary covers a lot of ground: sexuality, aging, death, spirituality, art, literature, war, celebrity, alternative life styles, tragedy, mental health, drug use and love. Pure and simple love.
Now I went to this movie reluctantly. The subject matter of the lives of the famous has wornif not all of usme down with the 24 hour news cycle. Christopher Isherwood's literary contributions were more a bridge than, say, the works of W.H. Auden which stand alone in any age. To unveil, posthumously, his private life examining the testament of his living lover, I was braced for something like testimony contesting Rock Hudson's estate.
But, I was very wrong.
Whether you can sit and hear the word "queer" and flinch or not (in any of its incantations either pejorative or defiance), it quickly doesn't matter. There is such a wealth of first hand material (photos, film footage, paintings, drawings, interviews) we don't have time to judge (as I was prepared to do) the age difference of the two subjects or their lifestyles.
Whatever the staying power of Isherwood's written words, his legacy as a gentle human being is forever preserved in this film. And whether or not Don Bachardy was "abused" by an older man or not, we're so dazzledas the young Bachardy must have beenby the world he's invited into with Isherwood, we don't have time to sit in judgment of anyone. And that's a good thing, because at the end of the day, and at the end of this filmas at the end of these people's livesit's for them to say whether their story was one of fulfilled love or something pathological. And what is revealed here by both the diaries of Christopher Isherwood and the loving testimony of his partner cannot be denied.
I had some quibbles with the choices made by the filmmakers, however. The use of animation seems like unnecessary padding. Only once (during a rough period in the relationship) is it well used, and the score is patchy. When jazz from the period is used it matches what we see on screen; but the original music seems generic. My biggest objection was using actors to stage some crucial events. There is such a wealth of archival footage that I began to doubt which was real and what was staged. I think using actors sells everyone--including the audience--short. What the principals have to say is so powerful, we didn't need what has become an almost obligatory trend in documentary films.
The interviews are all carefully chosen and never intrude into anything we'd call inappropriate or salacious. And the central character here, Don Bacarady, is allowed the freedom to say what he wants (most of it very funny) and he holds little back.
It's a great love story, and it's told at a time when our Country is considering whether or not it should sanction same sex marriage. Well, there's nothing here that would point towards not doing that. Yet no one on the screen has an agenda or an ax to grind. I think it was during an interview with Leslie Caron when she remembers something Isherwood sayshe delays his death because "Don isn't ready"that I realized this was no ordinary love story, it was a true love story. And it's heartbreaking and a mind-opener. Go see it.
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