Francis Bacon [1988]

This South Bank Show interview of the artist famous for depicting a screaming Pope and bloody bodies begins with him walking the streets of London, visiting the fruit market and such, while interviewer Melvyn Bragg gives a brief overview of Bacon's childhood and early career. Then Bragg enters the picture, questioning the leather-clad, slightly paunchy Bacon in a series of his pet haunts: the Tate Gallery storeroom looking at slides of his work and others that inspired him, his messy studio, his favorite restaurant, a drinking club, and a gambling casino. Despite his fondness for painting slabs of meat, syringe-stuck bodies, and the like, Bacon describes himself as an optimist and, indeed, his manner is quite cheerful as he denounces the work of Pollack and Rothko, criticizes some of his own paintings, and muses on the inevitability of death and nothingness. Of his filthy studio he explains "I work much better in chaos," and, while happy to talk about the things that inspire him, he refuses to tell the story of any particular painting: "It is itself and it's nothing else." Filmed in 1985, seven years before his death, this 55-minute documentary is revelatory, amusing, and--like its subject-- ultimately quite charming. --Kimberly Heinrichs

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