Wed

26/06

Auditorium - DAMSLab > 14:30

A BIGGER SPLASH

Jack Hazan
Introduce

Jack Hazan

Projection
Info

Wednesday 26/06/2019
14:30

Subtitle

Original version with subtitles

A BIGGER SPLASH

Film Notes

Though it features real people under their own names, and its events broadly parallel ones that happened in real life, Jack Hazan’s feature debut owes at least as much to fiction as documentary in its attempt at conveying the inner life of a man who was already one of Britain’s most fêted artists. Perhaps unsurprisingly, because this film seems to bare so much (all too literally in one scene), David Hockney himself was highly ambivalent about the end result, even to the point of making an offer for the negative.
The film makes no attempt at identify­ing its characters beyond opening credits backed by Hockney drawings. Some were already household names, including Hockney, fashion designer Ossie Clark and textile designer Celia Birtwell (the subjects of one of Hockney’s best-known paintings, Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, briefly featured here), while others such as Hockney’s ex-lover Peter Schlesinger and assistant-cum-confidant Mo McDermott would have been unknown outside their immediate circles.
There is plenty of fascinating material for Hockney’s existing admirers, not least long sequences of him creating and reworking the 1971 canvas Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), one figure being Schlesinger. Models for other paintings, including artist Patrick Procktor and New York curator Henry Geldzahler, are framed and posed in such a way as to echo their immortalisa­tion on canvas.
However, Hazan also intended those with no prior knowledge of Hockney or his work to approach the film as a simple story about the end of a relationship. Though the fact that it’s a gay relationship made the film considerably more unusual in the early 1970s than would be the case today, not least because it’s treated completely matter-of-factly, with none of the melodramatic anguish of fiction films such as Victim (Basil Dearden, 1961) or Sunday Bloody Sunday (John Schlesinger, 1971). Homoerotic interludes are effectively integrated into the central narrative: one sequence featuring four young men and a swimming pool is directly inspired by the 1967 painting that gives the film its title.
Convinced that he had invented a viable new documentary form, Hazan repeated the technique with Rude Boy (1980), after which his career stalled – though one can clearly see many echoes of his films in the recent plethora of celebrity-based reality television programmes, where the gap between manufactured persona and reality is equally hard to judge.

Michael Brooke, “BFI Screenonline

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Jack Hazan, David Mingay. F.: Jack Hazan. M.: David Mingay. Mus.: Patrick Gowers. Int.: David Hockney, Peter Schlesinger, Celia Birtwell, Henry Geldzahler, Mo McDermott, Kasmin, Mike Sida, Ossie Clark, Patrick Procktor. Prod.: Jack Hazan per Buzzy Enterprises Ltd. DCP. D.: 105’. Col.