Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon, 1998


Daniel Craig, portraying ‘George Dyer’ in the movie

As part of the Fine Art Cinema Club, the first week showed ‘Love is the Devil; Study for a portrait of Francis Bacon’. A film that draws heavily on the authorised biography of Francis Bacon, and his strained relationship with George Dyer. Bacon is callous and quite evil in this film, despite his often joyous and unapologetic campness. Tormenting and misunderstanding Dyer’s depression and increasing psychosis. The film showcases them happy at first, but as the film goes on, we see Dyer’s descent into madness; consisting of his recurring nightmares of falling, covered in blood; as well as his strained relationship with being the subject of Bacon’s paintings, yet being portrayed as a horrific and terrifying creature. Dyer is a human, and he shows a lot of remorse and tragedy within his character; whereas Bacon does not provide any solace or comfort him during his times of need. Instead, choosing to focus on his suicidal tendencies as nothing more than ‘attention seeking’. The film is shot and portrayed beautifully; many of the colours are dampened or subdued throughout the film, as well as certain scenes showing inspirations for paintings; such as a shop display holding the strange cells that appear in his paintings, or at the point of Dyer’s suicide; the bathroom he kills himself in is nothing more than a red cage, floating in a black expanse. There is also a great deal of addiction, as well as symbolism regarding the nature of their relationship; as well as imagery and concepts found within his work; Blood, Bodies, Corpses and the inner workings of anatomy and man. I am a great admirer of Bacon’s work, yet this film portrays him n an incredibly negative light; yet, he was a human, and it is a distinctively human trait to have flaws.


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