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Chris & Don. A Love Story [Import]

3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Christopher Isherwood, Don Bachardy, Ted Bachardy, Jim Berg, John Boorman
  • Directors: Tina Mascara, Guido Santi
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, NTSC, Widescreen, Import
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Zeitgeist Films
  • Release Date: Feb. 24 2009
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
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Product Description

Chris & Don. A Love Story

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started to view this film. What I saw is a warm remembrance of things past. A sweet-natured young man who is smitten by Hollywood happens to meet a perfect match in an older man who is part of the star making world of Hollywood. Fortunatly for them both, they quickly move beyond merely taking advantage of each other. What develops is a mutual dependence that forms the core of each man; Isherwood is probably saved from becoming embittered, and Bachardy is probably saved from a lifetime of disappointment. What would have happened if Isherwood had not been rich and famous? Who knows. What would have happened if they had not fallen in love?

I enjoyed the insights into the cruel world of closeted Hollywood. Unfortunately, some of it remains. This film is a monument to being true to oneself.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I purchased this DVD and was extremely disappointed. I expected to see a love story between a older man and a younger man. Instead it was a biography of the couple told by the younger when he was much older. The story line was nice but there was absolutely nothing heart warming. There is no nudity which is fine but it was listed in the catagory of "guys who get butt naked for sex" , well there was no love making at all.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9f3fb42c) out of 5 stars 61 reviews
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6138fa8) out of 5 stars Essential Gay History Feb. 28 2009
By I. Sondel - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Chris & Don: A Love Story" (Zeitgeist Films) is a portrait of the 34 year relationship of British writer Christopher Isherwood and portrait artist Don Bachardy (30 years Isherwood's junior). This film, one of the best of 2008 (and one that would surely have been mentioned on my "ten best" list had it only played in a theatre in Tallahassee), is an important and inspiring document of a courageous, openly gay love story, perhaps the most blatant and visible of the last century after Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.
Directors Guido Santi and Tina Mascara have culled an impressive amount of archival footage of these singular artists, including scenes with W. H. Auden, Tennessee Williams, Igor Stravinsky, and mixed them with interviews and comments from Leslie Caron, James White, Gloria Stuart and John Boorman. The wisest move made by these filmmakers, one which elevates and imbues this work with genuine legitimacy, was to focus their camera on Bachardy and to have excerpts from Isherwood's diaries read by actor Michael York.
They met on a California beach in 1952 when Bachardy was 16. Isherwood was the celebrated author of The Berlin Stories (not yet famous as the source of "Cabaret", or the author of "A Single Man" and "Christopher and His Kind"). Their relationship didn't coalesce for a few years, but once it did, the two became inseparable. Bachardy is brutally candid about the relationship, how they were viewed by friends and family; but more importantly, how they interacted with one another, the stresses and strains of coming from different countries, classes and generations.
Bachardy, forever youthful in appearance, details a brief period when he insisted the relationship be "open" to provide him an opportunity to sew his wild oats. Still, with a thirty year age gap, Isherwood often seems a benign cross between Humbert Humbert and Svengali.
"Chris & Don" is a treasure for those well acquainted with the work of both men. However, for those unfamiliar, this 90 minute film will both illuminate and entertain.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e69b210) out of 5 stars A Relationship, a Love, Explored.... Feb. 28 2009
By James Hiller - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
... so perfectly, so eloquently, in this marvelous documentary: Chris & Don: A Love Story.

In 1952, Don Barchardy meets author and Hollywood celebrity Christopher Isherwood on a beach in Santa Monica, and a relationship is born. What's remarkable, among many remarkable things in this story, is that Chris was 30 years older than Don, who was just coming out of his adolescence. They lived together, for over 30 years, unreservedly and openly as a couple, amidst the rampant homophobia and discrimination that existed, even in "liberal" California.

The life wanders through the current life of Don as his reminiscences about his great love, the life of Chris before meeting Don (with particular emphasis on Chris' time in Berlin, which eventually spawned "Cabaret") and their life together. The filmmakers framed the story beautifully with animals; that being, Chris and Don referred to themselves in the context of animal personas, Chris being an old horse, Don an affectionate cat, and they sprinkle delightful animation throughout the movie. The effect is charming, and adds a poignant punctuation mark at the end.

Perhaps the most moving part of the entire story occurs at the end, as Don recounts Chris' last days, and his endless drawing of his love. The pictures haunt, the sadness looms. It's then you get the sense of the realness of their relationship, how real all relationships are (despite conservative groups' attempts to thwart them), and the depth of what they meant to each other.

Don's honesty drives this movie. He holds nothing back as he recounts his life, as well as the life of Chris. You have to admire someone for opening his heart so much to a camera crew; I doubt many of us would be willing to have such clarity. In a way, it really brings us closer to Chris, as I am sure was Don's intent in making this documentary.

I cannot recommend this movie enough. Watching it in the theater with a rapt audience was powerful, watching at home, privately, is even more powerful.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e69b1d4) out of 5 stars ... that raised eyebrows April 6 2009
By Charles S. Houser - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This documentary recounts the long, intimate relationship between author Christopher Isherwood (Berlin Stories ... which became I Am a Camera ... which became Cabaret) and the portrait artist Don Bachardy. Isherwood has been dead for over 20 years, so the documentary consists primarily of an extended one-sided interview with Bachardy (we hear his thoughts but not his interrogator's questions) as he knocks about an enviable Southern California beach house full of tasteful mementos of his life with Isherwood, reads Isherwood's diaries (voice-over provided by Michael York), and sketches a smattering of nude youths. Bachardy's speaking voice is strangely accented and somewhat affected, and is full of "ums" and "uhs." While Bachardy has charm and the details of his story are interesting, I found myself getting increasingly relieved whenever the film shifted to archival footage.

While the film will possibly appeal to a broad-minded general audience, it will be of special interest, I think, to gay men (and possibly lesbian) viewers. For one thing, the film shows the way homosexuals in days past had to define their relationships for themselves. Before gay marriage (with its implied monogamy) became a cause celebre, men like Chris and Don needed to consciously craft their own understanding of what they expected of one another. Don speaks frankly about both being taken to Hollywood parties openly as Isherwood's partner/date (and enduring homophobic comments from Joseph Cotton) and about his interest in seeing men outside their relationship. Yet somehow their relationship with one another was primary and mutually fulfilling. It is also interesting from the perspective of the thirty year difference in their ages (Don was barely legal when they started their relationship). As in classical man/boy relationships, there was an element of mentor and protege. Isherwood wisely encouraged Don to pursue drawing and painting, rather than writing, and their relationship does not seem to have suffered from competitiveness. It was gratifying to see that Don had a sense of himself, one Isherwood encouraged, and that Don was no mere boy toy or trophy wife. Thirdly, this film is likely to interest gay men because of the sense it gives of how much has and hasn't changed for gays since the early 1950s.

The filmmakers have done a good job of augmenting Don's story with archival footage and interview clips from people like Leslie Caron and James White. They also seemed to have a realistic sense of their subjects' standing on the world stage (they acknowledge that Isherwood was a good though not a major 20th century writer). During the course of this film we get to see a number of portraits Bachardy did of Isherwood, including some of the many he drew during Isherwood's final days. The filmmakers show but do not assess the quality of Don's work. The earlier portraits seem to have been mostly charcoal sketches or black and white watercolors (many of which were stunning); these were followed by minimalist, gestural drawings employing thick brush strokes (impactful when they hit the mark); and his current paintings are in the bright colors of the Fauves (which struck me as erratic and infantile). If he's an artist in decline, he doesn't seem to notice or mind. In the end, it is his life that's his greatest creation and it is an honor to hear him tell his story without complaint or apology.
19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e69b4c8) out of 5 stars Chris and Don: A Love Story -- Nay, not Humbert Humbert at all Jan. 18 2009
By Sabrina Sadique - Published on
Format: DVD
On February 14, 1953, Don Bachardy (18) meets his brother's lover Christopher Isherwood (48) on a beach in California and, unbeknownst to both parties, is locked in for life--a life that would enlarge into creative soars for a portrait artist yet to know his calling and an established author awaiting his eternal subject. Yet "Chris and Don: A Love Story" is not simply about the ungovernable urge to create the life of art that only an artist can know where often the object is art itself; it is more humbly about two lovers' bonedeep adamancy to preserve as much of life as one can in a durable yet aesthetic medium. Here, the intended substance is neither the piece drawn nor the word written but the protraction of human essence by embalming it in text, in sketch. The documentary, much like its own subjects, is the act of reinforcing memory with creative proofs-- the body of evidence, which, in the process of its production, inspires more memories than any paper or celluloid can hold. A sketch of a gnarled Chris, haggard with cancer, opens the smell of the author, the smell of the ink-then in the charcoal-now, and the taste of that morning on this morning that you, as spectator, have just been made privy to. It is a story of an artist drawing an author while the author writes his muse into immortality all at once. But symbiosis can sometimes be brutal.

Amid this Edenic coalescence breathes the quiet defiance of a ritual-weary, mid-aged Chris Isherwood against heteronorms that are predictably ageist in creed. What could have been (and was) perceived as Isherwood's Humbert Humbertish captivity of the sun-sinewed boy-Lolita is now cited as one of the primary prompters in the gay liberation canon. Yet Humbert Humbertish it all was in many ways as dangerously young Don, calling himself "an unconscious impersonator," willingly and star-struckly serves as Chris' substrate, replicating his accent, his Cheshire mannerism, his sparse diction. Eclipsed by Chris' deserved fame and proportionate clout, Don confesses, "I wanted people to like me for who I really was but I wasn't sure myself who I was. The only thing I knew that I was good at was drawing people..." And draw he did, and with it came the irrepressible desire to break free from the only lover he had known. Chris' enabling of Don's art pushes the latter to gauge the cost of unequal sexual experience with his seasoned, three-decade-distant partner; in short, he goes out. Plumbs the sea. All Chris wants is for young Don to come home at the end of the day after his shenanigans. Which he does in the late 60s. (Sometimes).

But Don does return for good and draws Chris and Chris only in the last few days of his life, chronicling the coming of his death piecemeal in a preemptively elegiac set of sketches. Chris Isherwood bares his all, his full, bleak nakedness in sacred singularity with his scribe. For Don's furious fingers, each tender stroke is a prayer for bonus time. Chris dies; Don spends the day drawing his corpse lest memory alone betray. These last images of depleted youth are so deeply lyrical that one can't but wonder if the body's shriveling in the embarrassment of age is beauty itself and unto its own. They reveal the kind of lovely grotesqueness that only death can boast. Guido Santi and Tina Mascara juxtapose them against a lithe-yet-withered Don feverishly working out at the gym. The story--the text--closes with the artist in his solitary atelier where all that is left are drawers of pictures and shelves of books in poetic arrest, all the company a man has shored for a night to allay "the foul rag and boneshop of the heart."

Sabrina Sadique
Reviewed on July 20, 2008
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e69b9c0) out of 5 stars A story abt statutory rape, to start Sept. 4 2014
By Susan Mather - Published on
Verified Purchase
I don't know... sorta creepy since you asked me. Why is it that some men so love to be with girls (if straight) & boys (for gay) that are so damn young they're still in puberty. Something wrong with that, that's just my opinion but I'll stick by it. How about someone who is your emotional, intellectual equal? Or at least near your same DECADE?! It's about control in many situations, yeah. The rest, don't really know. The bane of this world today, control freaks.