Last night Dar and I saw the remarkable love story of the relationship of Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy-- Chris and Don. A Love Story. (click for a review)
Their meeting and their evolving relationship are a testament to destiny. Some people were meant to meet.
That young Don was able to withstand the onslaught of famous celebrities that surrounded the ever more popular writer is fascinating. Being starstruck was for Don Bachardy his own road to fame and expression of his own talent. He went from being dazzled by all the stars to dazzling them with his ability to paint and draw them.
Portrait of Don Bachardy from Wikipedia
Of course Chris was essential to his realizing that talent. Chris encouraged him and sent him through art school. The film reveals the way their relationship nurtured them both, reviving Isherwood's writing while inspiring Bachardy's art. (It was in the 70s that I heard Isherwood read and speak to a group in New Orleans at Loyola. I asked him how he liked Michael York's performance in Cabaret. Isherwood replied that York was perfect for the role, but that he didn't care for the bisexual slant. The character was homosexual; and one should just be one or the other, Isherwood said.)
The film gives us all the blending of talent, perception, emotion, love, confusion, and searching for identity that made this love story so poignant. Chris and Don beat the odds. Don's rendition of his lover's friends' faces are the ultimate triumph: Auden, Spender, Stravinsky, fellow artist David Hockney. They all emerge as witness to a great love story, one well beyond stereotypes.
The death of Isherwood, as revealed by Don Bachardy is moving, peaceful. It is like the Hindu philosophy they both studied; it is an acceptance of the Tao, the Path, the Way of life. Don's drawings of his lover's transition to death is pure Zen, beyond pain and suffering, an ecstatic transcendence. The film gives us a touch of that understanding. Would that we could all know such love.
Here are a few of Don Bachardy's drawings
And Bachardy's interview with White Crane: