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Love is the Devil – Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon

John Maybury’s portrait of painter Francis Bacon focuses on the disastrious relationship between Bacon and his model and lover George Dyer.


LOVE IS THE DEVIL, John Maybury’s portrait of painter Francis Bacon, is fortunately being released in German cinemas. It premiered in 1998, when Daniel Craig, who plays Bacon’s lover George Dyer, wasn’t blonde yet. LOVE IS THE DEVIL is set in the 60s, when men, also gay men, didn’t wear designer underwear but rather underwear made of double ribbed cotton. White and chaste, very unsexy. So they stand opposite each other, Bacon and Dyer, not as two lovers, but two men in a duel, taking off their clothes... no, Maybury spares us the obligatory display of flesh, he changes the narrative levels, shows sexual violence and submission as an art product, as an image the painter would’ve imagine.

Would’ve, but didn’t. The executor of the estate prohibited quoting Bacon in words or paintings. A handicap that Maybury smartly circumvented, he doesn’t show the painting, for example the portrait of Henrietta Moares, but rather the creation process: a photo shoot where she poses for shots that the painter uses as a starting point for artistic deformation (he uses everything and everyone). The ban also gives Maybury the freedom to show the disastrous relationship between Bacon and Dyer as a battle between the top and bottom, between master and servant, where both suffer, but where it is certain who the loser is: George Dyer, the little hoodlum, who entered the world of the rich and beautiful, George, who has to lose because he loves, really loves, and goes down because of it, drinking and drugging himself to death. The director shows this last act in a Baconesque manner, transferring Baconian stylistic devices of distortion, twisting and mirroring into film.

Elisabeth Bauschmid (INDIEKINO MAGAZIN)

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: Love is the Devil – Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon
Großbritannien 1998, 87 min
Genre: Drama
Director: John Maybury
Author: John Maybury
DOP: John Mathieson
Montage: Daniel Goddard
Music: Ryuichi Sakamoto
Distributor: rapid eye movies
Cast: Derek Jacobi, Daniel Craig, Tilda Swinton, Anne Lambton, Adrian Scarborough
FSK: 16
Release: 21.03.2024



  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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