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A Bigger Splash

2.3 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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(Apr 18, 2006)
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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.

Review

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)

Special Features

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

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.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: FIRST RUN FEATURES
  • DVD Release Date: April 18, 2006
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E6ESQW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,370 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Bigger Splash" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Foster Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 7, 2008
Format: DVD
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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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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Format: DVD
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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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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Format: Amazon Video
Made in 1974 this is a sort of documentary about the art of Andy Warhol ‘look a likie’ and Northern Enfant terrible – David Hockney. In it he is going through a bout of ‘artist block’ where he can’t get the inspiration to paint a picture of one of his muses properly.

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.
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