This film meant a good deal to me long before I even saw it. I was too young to get into a cinema to see it when released in the mid 70s, but I read everything about it I could and remember standing agape at a huge poster advertising A Bigger Splash in a London tube station. I loved (and love) Hockney's paintings and the fact there was a mini-scandal over a gay sex scene in the movie, which got it banned in some places only made it more desirable to see it!
Since then I have seen a poor grainy video version of the film, partly cut, and even more heavily cut when it was on Channel 4. Originally an X certificate adults only film, it is now merely a 15! I'm not a film buff but the transfer on this DVD/Blue-ray set seems to be very good indeed, colours conveyed beautifully and how well lit and presented are Hockney's paintings!
This is a fictionalised documentary about the artist and his friends ... in the same way as modern shows like The Only Way is Essex. And what friends they are, the designers Celia Birtwell and her late husband Ossie Clark (murdered in the 90s) feature here, as well as Hockney's former partner, the photographer Peter Schlesinger and other beautiful young men - only identified by their first names. The story told concentrates on Hockney's state of mind after the break up of the relationship, and how this effects his ability to paint. It begins in 1973 and flashes back to 1971, then gradually bringing the story forward. Hockney's dependance on his friends is touching, especially to the intriguing Celia. There is a great deal of full-frontal male nudity in this film, including that of Hockney himself in one shower scene. The gay sex scene is of Peter Schlesinger with an unknown guy, and is certainly longer, grittier and more explicity erotic than anything in Brokeback Mountain! At the time, this shocked cinema goers.
I found the film mesmerising, but it does suffer from some longeurs and the narrative can be vague in places because of the way the director Jack Hazan made the film. Fortunately there are some brilliant extras included in this release, especially the detailed interview with Hazan himself. Recommended.