Artistic Hcense

Painter Francis Bacon is the subject of JOHN MAYBURY's award-winning Love Is The Devil. Words: Miles Fielder

Love Is The Devil is a film about Francis Bacon But, as its director, John Maybury contends, it's not really about Bacon and it doesn’t feature any of his paintings.

’The Bacon estate tried to sue me for the script,' Maybury says. 'They threatened lawsurts if there was one painting in the film. In the end we came to an arrangement where the

'Things like the horrible, nicotine-stained, alcohol- sodden English flesh - that

was the background for all the

turmoil in the figures.’ John Maybury

few canvasses you actually see in the film are IUSI in the background It was very heavy, but, in a way, it set me free, It gave me the freedom to forget about the paintings and get on with the SiOWiGIllflQ,’

That said, one of the most striking


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qualities about Maybury’s film is that it looks like a FranCis Bacon painting, with its performers warped and distorted beyond recognition, in the case of Tilda Swrnton.

’We used Bacon's language to make the film,’ the director explains. ’We spent about six months looking at the paintings and at John Deacon's photographs [of Bacon-era Soho]. That kind of claustrophobic environment, the way it's all clean and modern and simple, in a way. Also things like the horrible, nicotine-stained, alcohol- sodden English flesh. That was the background for all the turmOiI in the figures. You can suggest periods rather than show them fully In Love Is The Devil, funny faces and people chain- smoking tell you a great deal about the period.

'At the end of the day, the film is not about the period either. The Colony Room [one of Bacon's drinking haunts] is an interesting example: you go in there now and it's exactly the same as it was 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, I got the impres3ion y0u'd never have known it was swrnging 60s London outside. It's like this weird little bubble wrth the people on another planet.’

Just as Maybury av0ids the trappings of the costume drama, he also {GIGCIS the cradle-to-grave tradition of the biopic, which he achieves by focusing on Bacon’s relationship With his lover George Dyer. 'SeCretIy, it was my idea

preview FILM

Faking Bacon: Derek Jacobi (left) and Daniel Craig in Love Is The Devil

all along that it was George Dyer’s story,’ reveals Maybury.

In fact, Maybury was originally approached by the BBC and offered a birth-to-death Bacon script 'I come from wrcky-wacky, abstract, experimental kind of {Offli()f‘/,' says the man who has spent 20 years making films wrth such luminaries as Derek Jarman 'I tried to stay true to that, but also to make a "proper" feature film. I had to, a) tell a story I was interested in and, b) get into the Bacon story in a way that was going to be believable.

'So I spoke to dozens of people in the


‘A race}, ,2

Colony Room, in the French House. The thing about those places is that they all knew Francis, they all were his special friends, they've all got a story, but they’re the same stories told by different people at different times. In the end there were 20 different FranCIs BacOns and I had to make up my own mind. It's a fictional drama, based on real events. It's not the offiCial version. It’s not the only version. It’s my verSion

Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Cameo from Fri 18 Sep. See review.



Opens Glasgow Film Theatre Friday 18 September

10—24 Sep 1998 THE LIST 25