An American architect arrives in Italy, supervising an exhibition for a French architect, Boullée, who is famous for his oval structures. Through the course of 9 months he becomes obsessed ...
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Oliver Deuce, a successful doctor, is shattered when his wife is killed in a freak car accident involving the car being driven by Alba Bewick colliding with a very large rare bird. His twin... See full summary »
Mr. Neville, a cocksure young artist is contracted by Mrs. Herbert, the wife of a wealthy landowner, to produce a set of twelve drawings of her husband's estate, a contract which extends ... See full summary »
Tired of her husband's philandering ways, the mother of two daughters drowns her husband. With the reluctant help of the local coroner, the murder is covered up. Her daughters are having ... See full summary »
An exiled magician finds an opportunity for revenge against his enemies muted when his daughter and the son of his chief enemy fall in love in this uniquely structured retelling of the 'The... See full summary »
As a young girl in Japan, Nagiko's father paints characters on her face, and her aunt reads to her from "The Pillow Book", the diary of a 10th-century lady-in-waiting. Nagiko grows up, ... See full summary »
The planet has been affected by a mysterious occurrence known as the Violent Unknown Event, or V.U.E. It has caused immortality and disability. Victims have learned new and peculiar ... See full summary »
An 'essayistic' documentary in which Greenaway's fierce criticism of today's visual illiteracy is argued by means of a forensic search of Rembrandt's Nightwatch. Greenaway explains the ... See full summary »
Tongue-in-cheek, early Greenaway short reflects the incredibly meticulous encyclopedic nature of his early films. An attempt is made to "reconstruct" a proposed, but never made, film ... See full summary »
An American architect arrives in Italy, supervising an exhibition for a French architect, Boullée, who is famous for his oval structures. Through the course of 9 months he becomes obsessed with his belly, suffers severe stomach pains, loses his wife, exhibition, his unborn child and finally his own life. Written by
Ofir Zwebner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Etienne-Louis Boullee (1728-1799) was a real architect. Many of his neoclassical designs that were built still exist, mostly in Paris, France. His project for the Cenotaph for Isaac Newton has been much studied by architects for its viability, not least by Albert Speer who modeled the New Berlin for Hitler. The cake presented to Kracklite at the initial banquet is a perfect replica of Boullee's drawings for the Isaac Newton Cenotaph. See more »
When photocopying the picture of Augustus, Kracklite puts the picture in upside down which would have given a blank copy (unless the same picture was on both sides). Additionally, it would not be possible to achieve the level of resolution of Augustus' abdomen from such a small picture. See more »
Your wife is very beautiful, Signor Kracklite, especially when she is pregnant.
Yes, that's right. She is pregnant. But not with your child, Speckler.
True. I'm very grateful to you for that. Your child, shall we say, is the most perfect contraceptive.
[Kracklite turns and punches Speckler in the nose]
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It was a shock for me to discover having watched several of Peter Greenaway's films, and having loved many, that this for me, is easily his best from what I've seen. I will temper that by saying that I saw this in the cinema, and the cinema does wonders for many films. I find Greenaway's Baby of Macon, for example, has too much detail and visual complexity to be particularly accessible via home viewing. Greenaway has indeed been criticised for an overly painterly approach to detail in his films, which some deem not fit for a medium with a moving image. His long time collaborator cinematographer Sacha Vierny for example considered Prospero's Books a failure for the over-cluttering with visual detail that was cinematically indigestible.
The late Sacha Vierny doesn't get talked about nearly enough, other than Belly and most of the famous Greenaway films, he shot Last Year in Marienbad for Resnais, as well as the majority of the famous pre-80s Resnais movies; The Three Crowns of the Sailor, amongst others for Ruiz; Bof Anatomie d'un Livreur for Faraldo, a marvellous though little seen film; Belle de Jour for Bunuel; La Femme Publique and others for Zulawski; as well as collaborations with Chris Marker, Maguerite Duras, and Sally Potter. The critical part he played in these great movies is rarely sung. As Vierny was not interested in fame and rarely gave interviews, how much direction he took and how much of his own artistry he plyed will forever remain an enigma. As with most of this work, The Belly of An Architect is a really great looking film.
The story of this film is about an architect played by Brian Dennehy, called Stourley Kracklite, if you can believe such an indigestible name, hinting at gastric stagnancy and duodenal eructations. In consonancy with his name, he spends the movie plagued by sluggish prickly guts. Kracklite has always admired an obscure 18th century French architect called Étienne-Louis Boullée, a real-life architect who was famous more for his astonishing designs than for actual won commissions (this has often been a hazard for architects I believe). Make good use of the internet or your library and look up his magnificently insane design for Newton's tomb, which was never taken up, or his sprawling design for the Bibliothque Nationale. Due to his overreaching ambition he therefore ended up making mostly private homes, and there's only a handful of his built projects left in existence.
So Kracklite has finished with making his own buildings, and spent the last ten years of his life planning an exhibition on Boullée to be held in Rome. There are a lot of typical Greenaway features here, obsession with food, cuckoldry, a battle between an older and younger man. Somehow Greenaway managed here to take his usual stuff beyond an academic game to a place where there is mythos, and poesy. Greenaway for me is a director with a deep feeling for lifecycle, he doesn't present children as small adults, or middle aged men as ephebes with jowls and paunches.
For me it's a film about lifecycle and meaning, and homage to genius. I just adore it.
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