Long before gay marriage was ever considered possible, portrait artist Don Bachardy fell in love with famed gay author Christopher Isherwood. Their legendary relationship began on the beach at Malibu in 1956 and continued until Isherwood’s death in 1986. Beautifully executed and movingly told, the documentary Chris & Don: A Love Story tells their story.
Isherwood, born near Manchester, England just after the turn of the 20th century, began his illustrious writing career just after college. He moved to Berlin in the late 1920s to be closer to his dear friend W.H. Auden. Falling in love with the city, he stayed there until the Nazis started encroaching on the gay community – not knowing, just yet, how much worse their influence would become. He later distilled his experiences there into “Berlin Stories,” the basis for the classic musical Cabaret. In 1939 Isherwood and Auden fled to California where they discovered Eastern religions… and a lot of attractive young men.
It wasn’t until 1956 that his fabled love affair with Don Bachardy would begin. Brought to life by a multi-media treasure trove, the story of Chris & Don will keep you gripped. This doc features a ton of different interviews with Bachardy as well as archival footage, rare home movies (with glimpses of Auden and other friends like Igor Stravinsky and Tennessee Williams), reenactments, and, most sweetly, whimsical animations based on the cat-and-horse cartoons the pair used in their personal correspondence. Theirs is an unusual May-December love story for the ages and we’re glad it’s recounted here.