Francis Bacon is the essential British painter of the twentieth century. From the end of the Second World War until his death in 1992, he created an extraordinary body of intense and uncompromising figure paintings and portraits. Drawing on diverse influences including Picasso, Velasquez's portrait of Pope Innocent X, the photographs of Eadweard Muybridge and Sergei Eisenstein's film Battleship Potemkin, Bacon undertook a pitiless analysis in paint of himself and his friends, of the human body, and of our place in a godless universe. This film explores many of his key canvases which have been newly filmed in HDTV. The works are complemented solely with Bacon's own words, newly recorded by Derek Jacobi. The artist's biography is outlined, but the focus is on his ideas: his thoughts about his work, his reflections about how and why he paints. The result is a rigorous and revealing portrait of one of the few artists who has truly changed the way we see and understand ourselves.