Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Moviegoer: Chris and Don: A Love Story

I waited to see my Netflix offering, Chris and Don: A Love Story, until I had finished reading Christopher Isherwood’s The Sixties: Diaries 1960-1969 (ed. Katherine Bucknell). The film documents the love story of Isherwood and his companion Don Bachardy, from their meeting on a beach in California to Isherwood’s death in 1986. Isherwood, best known as the author of The Berlin Stories (which became I am a Camera and then Cabaret) and A Single Man, was more than 30 years older than Bachardy. Having read of that period through Isherwood’s prose, it was fascinating to see the two men through their home movies, interacting with many leading authors and actors of the 50s and 60s, juxtaposed with the 76-year-old portrait artist Bachardy, living and working in the environment he shared with Isherwood for over three decades.

But one moment stands out, a moment which I found incredibly memorable. Artist Bachardy shows a series of drawings he did during the last few months of the writer’s life. Then he holds up a series of pictures he drew after Isherwood’s death. Mouth agape, eyes open staring into the void, Isherwood's body shows the ravages of age and illness, but watching Bachady gaze on his departed companion said much to me of the capturing and holding of love in its final moments.

I don't think I will forget the moment.

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