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A Bigger Splash
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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.
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)
- Interview with Jack Hazan
- Photo gallery
- Film notes
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
He decides to do a swimming pool painting and this lays out the pains taking process that he goes through. We also have him tussling with the ideas of going on trips or to California because the light is better and his personal relationships. During this he often reimagines how he created certain of his paintings using real people from his life. Some of these are very interesting and shows a whole other side to Hockney. There is also a lot of nudity – male nudity and some could accuse this (for the time) of being deliberately provocative or indeed deliberately pretentious. Either way it works for the most part.
It will help if you are a fan of his work; the trouble with art is that it is very subjective – the old adage ‘I know what I like when I see it’. However, irrespective of ‘taste’ there are objective signposts that indicate talent and for me one of those is the level of interest that a piece can engender. Hockney can manage to do that and he also comes across as being a very warm and personable person.
It does though show its age with some of the fashion on display being so ‘oh dear’ that it can almost hurt your eyes all kaftans and nylon. There is a wonderful ‘Miss World’ send up too that was one of the best scenes in this, but overall this held my interest for the most part but it really is not a film I would wish to see twice, so the rental option might be the best option.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
i watched a good hour of this, i'm still not certain that there is a plotPublished 27 days ago by Aaron
If you're looking for something to put you to sleep, this is your film. A turtle could easily outpace this. It tries to be an artsy film about film and fails. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
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