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A Bigger Splash (1975)

David Hockney , Peter Schlesinger (II) , Jack Hazan  |  NR |  DVD
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: David Hockney, Peter Schlesinger (II), Celia Birtwell, Mo McDermott, Henry Geldzahler
  • Directors: Jack Hazan
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • DVD Release Date: April 18, 2006
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E6ESQW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,379 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Bigger Splash" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Interview with Jack Hazan
  • Photo gallery
  • Film notes
  • Trailers

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

One of the strangest, most original and visually provocative films, A BIGGER SPLASH is a "captivating, shimmeringly beautiful" film (L.A. Times) featuring British artist David Hockney.
1971: David Hockney is well on his way to art world super-stardom. Filmmaker Jack Hazan, camera rolling, follows Hockney from London to New York to Los Angeles- capturing the artist as he struggles to create what would prove to be some of his most enduring works: those featuring Hockney's model and lover, Peter Schlesinger.
Straddling the boundary between documentary and fiction, A BIGGER SPLASH tells the story of Hockney's breakup with Schlesinger and its effect on Hockney, his work, and his close circle of friends. Originally banned for a notorious scene of homosexual intimacy, this award-winning film, "at once precise and dreamlike," is a unique document of a time and place, a lifestyle, and the artistic process, unlike anything made before or since.


An astute look at last ripple of the 'Swinging London' set. Lensed brilliantly. . .with style and taste. --Variety

Joyful, truly exciting… will linger long in the memory. --Gay News

A startler, partly in its extraordinary beauty of colour and image, partly in its homosexual frankness. --The Sunday Times (UK)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Splash Could Have Been Bigger April 7, 2008
Jack Hazan followed the artist David Hockney around from 1971 to 1973 filming this quasi-documentary about him. A very young and slim Mr. Hockney-- he would have been 34 I believe in 1971-- comes across as witty and interesting. Some parts of this 90 minute film are quite wonderful, particularly where the artist talks about his art or when we actually see him painting. There are also fascinating scenes where the subjects of his paintings actually merge into their life-sized portraits as life imitates art. The footage of the swimming pools looks like the paintings that figure prominently in the movie, particularly "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)." There is much made of the bright blue color that Mr. Hockey seems to be so fond of, complementing his work as well. Images are often repeated, giving the film a pleasing symmetry.

Not everything works so well, however. The director would have us believe that Mr. Hockney is having difficulty completing a painting because he has just broken up with its subject and his lover, Peter Schlesinger. The artist, who according to the accompanying notes to the DVD, was upset when he saw the finished documentary, indicated that the breakup was not a factor in his slow work on the painting. Also often the people just engage in dull conversation about not much in particular. Some of the dialogue could have been cut without hurting the finished film at all. Much is made about whether Mr. Hockey will return to California or to New York, et cetera, et cetera. One person repeats two or three times that "when a love goes wrong, there are more than two people who suffer." Okay. Then there is a rather explicit sex scene between two men that does not add much to the overall excellence of the movie.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Art April 29, 2006
Format:VHS Tape
This movie is a visual delight. If the viewer can ignore the sometimes self indulgent retelling of Hockney's love life, he/she will be impressed with the true magnificence of his work. Also worth a view for a glimpse of Patrick Procktor's painting. This movie is a must-see if you're an admirer of Hockney's art: his life seems a manifestation of his art.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I liked it. September 3, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
It is not true that the film made a horrible transfer to DVD. The quality is wonderful, especially for a film that was made in the 70's. In fact, I'd say it was a labor of love for whomever processed the original prints. This is a film about David Hockney so there's no chase scene. I can only speculate that since he is an artist, and artists are a little different from the rest of us, this film is a little different from what you might expect. I think Peter Schlesinger is very pretty and I would like to have gotten to know him better but the film never peers into his personality, and I think that is intentional. I find David Hockney much more attractive in that he is warm, funny, artfully clever, and human. Whether you buy it or rent it, I think you'll get something out of it if you want to know something about David Hockney.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Jack Hazan's quasi-documentary A BIGGER SPLASH is an unfocused examination about the creative life of David Hockney and supposedly about the effect of his past relationship with his pupil Peter Schlesinger (an artist, sculptor, and photographer who Hockney not only enjoyed as a lover but as a disciple). The précis appears to be that Hockney, in the throes of disappointment about the dissolution of his affair with Peter, decides to move to California where he has already been established as a painter of California people and places.

In London we meet his friends - Celia Birtwell, the elegantly stylishly beautiful model Hockney used repeatedly, dress designer Ossie Clark, confidant Mo McDermott, and patron Henry Geldzahler - each of whom Hockney painted and drew. We watch as Hockney visits the galleries and admires works of his friends, how he paints in his studio, how he relates to his gallerists (like Paul Kasmin), and how he perceives men and other artists.

Peter Schlesinger figures prominently in the film with many episodes of Peter's swimming in the pools of the people Hockney would eventually immortalize. He is a fine presence and carries his silent role well - almost appearing as a ghost muse that keeps Hockney focused on his now infamous swimming pool paintings.

The magic of this film, for those to whom Hockney is a well known and important painter, is the visual recreation of the paintings that have made him so famous: we are allowed to see Celia and her husband with white cat in context with the canvas, the view of Peter staring into the pool at an under water swimmer, the woman and her animal heads who appears in another of Hockney's famous paintings at poolside, etc.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Better Splash March 18, 2011
I would suggest that viewers watch two films, A Bigger Splash and another one, A Bigger Picture, done 40 years later, both deal with the evolution of David Hockney, painter. In viewing both films you will see how time changes him, from the young hormone, ego driven artist to a later reflective and sharing person. It is almost unbelievable the changes that occur in a person's life as reflected in these films. Very few artist have shared so much about their lives and art as does Hockney, most are reclusive or secretive especially about their process of creating. Hockney is not only an innovative artist but also a scholar, teacher and great screen personality.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Patricia
2.0 out of 5 stars Young Hockney at his worst
Too many youngish unfocused neurotics surrounding the young Hockney who wasn't too focused himself at the time. Irrelevant prurient sex scene of secondary charactars. Read more
Published 6 months ago by fragilefinger
4.0 out of 5 stars As a counterpoint to the reviews already here . . .
I came upon this film by accident; though I was a child of the '60s, David Hockney's work was not known to me. Being introduced to his art in this film was moving and revelatory. Read more
Published on December 10, 2011 by John Techwriter
2.0 out of 5 stars ten very interesting minutes; mostly ultra-boring....
The ten or so minutes showing Hockney painting, are very interesting. The ten or so minutes in art galleries is interesting. Read more
Published on October 30, 2011 by James Kerr
4.0 out of 5 stars Little Known Gem
A gem of a film. . Hockney and his former/partner are fine performing as themselves in this affectively rich examination of a love affair gone sour- unraveling into depression... Read more
Published on December 2, 2009 by C. Robert Friedman
5.0 out of 5 stars A Docu-Drama of A BIGGER SPLASH
A Bigger Splash
This is one of those very rare docu-dramas that came out of the experimental 70s in the film making industry that really left the Movie World with a real... Read more
Published on July 9, 2008 by JANORM
2.0 out of 5 stars Self-indulgent is an understement
This movie is just awful. I have read the other reviews here. All I can say is, if you appreciate Hockney's work, find a way to really look at it. Read more
Published on January 10, 2007 by Christopher A. Heath
1.0 out of 5 stars Who Was This Movie Made For?
David Hockney didn't like this movie. It was way too personal for Hockney (and too explicitly homosexual for the average heterosexual preference). Read more
Published on July 18, 2006 by allismile0
1.0 out of 5 stars Huge Disappointment!!!
I ordered this DVD and anxiously awaited its arrival only to find a terribly boring and pseudo-intellectual collection of rubbish not worthy of my time. Read more
Published on May 27, 2006 by Robert Byrd
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