Chris & Don. A Love Story (2007)
- Summaries (3)
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 for Chris was too important. During the 1970s, Chris and Don began to collaborate on various writing projects, such as "Frankenstein: The True Story", an unusual take on Mary Shelley's famous novel. In 1981, Isherwood was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Bachardy nursed him throughout the course of the disease and for the last six months of Chris' life, Don gave up painting any one else but him. What began as way to spend more time together, quickly became the project of a lifetime, a project Chris and Don did together until the very end. After Isherwood's death, Bachardy's career has continued to flourish. A number of books about Bachardy's art have been published, the latest, Stars in My Eyes. Bachardy's work resides in many permanent collections around the world, including the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Smithsonian Institute, and The Norton Simon Museum.
The lives of British Christopher Isherwood - perhaps best known as the author for the source material for Cabaret (1972) - and American portrait artist Don Bachardy, the latter who is thirty years Isherwood's junior, are presented, focusing largely on their thirty-four year relationship which ended with Isherwood's death in 1986. Their stories are told primarily through accounts directly by Bachardy, accounts by friends and official historians, passages read from Isherwood's diaries, and archival footage, including that from their home movies. Isherwood's pre-Bachardy life had him move from England to Berlin to New York to Los Angeles, largely to find a place where he could feel comfortable with his homosexuality. Bachardy's pre-Isherwood life was largely spent in Los Angeles, where he and his elder gay brother Ted were exposed to the gay life in the city together as they entered into their teen years, and where he dreamed of movie stardom. Isherwood and Bachardy met on Santa Monica Beach, and were slow to become partners. Their early relationship was that of artist and clay where Bachardy subconsciously took on many characteristics of his partner, including the British accent. Isherwood also had many famous friends to who he exposed Bachardy. But a situation concerning the filming of The Rose Tattoo (1955) would change Bachardy's interest away from movie stardom, and on Isherwood's urging, into portraiture. This career would be his calling and would bring Bachardy into being his own man for the first time in his life, which in turn would be the source of their potential split. Bachardy speaks of why he would understand that this career would be more than a suitable substitute to that movie stardom. Bachardy also talks of the animal personae he and Isherwood took with each other, with Isherwood the horse and Bachardy the pussy cat: the reason for it, and how these two personae often helped them through their difficult periods.
The love story between British writer, Christopher Isherwood (whose book 'The Berlin Stories' inspired the musical and film Cabaret) and Don Bachardy, American portrait artist.
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