Chris & Don: A Love Story

Tina Mascara and Guido Santi’s Chris & Don: A Love Story is a charming, illuminating portrait of the complex and storied queer romance—one lasting three decades—between literary icon Christopher Isherwood and artist Don Bachardy, who met on a Santa Monica beach in 1952, when Bachardy was a teenager and Isherwood already 30 years his senior. Quilted from black-and-white home-movie clips, animated sequences that bring to life the duo’s correspondence and pet names, and original footage of the now-elderly Bachardy going about his daily routine, Chris & Don uses standard documentary-film techniques to celebrate three entities—Isherwood, Bachardy, and their relationship—that flaunted all the rules. There was an extraordinary vulnerability in their union, matched only by an extraordinary faith in their bond. The relationship contained elements of the parent/child hierarchy (with the roles flip-flopping back and forth over time), but it was also an erotic quest that expanded to include other lovers—especially as Bachardy matured into his own man—then retreated back to monogamous form again (at least emotionally). And as Bachardy grew into his own creativity, theirs became a conversation between artists, too. Gays and straights can glean some lessons from Isherwood and Bachardy’s example: Make your own rules, set your own terms for connection, and be willing to let them evolve, even as you and your partner (hopefully) do.
July 18-31, 2008

 
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