02 March 2009

Brian Dennehy in "The Belly of an Architect"

Brian Dennehy as Stourley Kracklite
Lambert Wilson as Caspasian Speckler

American architect Stourley Kracklite comes with his young wife Louisa to Rome to supervise an exhibition devoted to Etienne-Louis Boullée, a French architect of the 18th century. Suffering from severe abdominal pains, Stourley doesn't pay much attention to his pregnant wife, and she finds consolation in the arms of suave Caspasian Speckler. Built from rigidly symmetrical images, the film has quite an unusual subject: the belly -- both the sick one of the architect and the pregnant one of his wife, the rounded forms alluding to the spherical constructions designed by Boullée, the architect whose visionary projects seldom materialized. Beautifully shot on location in Rome, this ironic fable wittily examines the issues of artistic creativity.
~ Yuri German, All Movie Guide

If I have learned anything from the last two movies, its that only American architects are allowed to have fun. Anyway, I added the plot summary from Yuri above because I couldn't have said it better myself. Again, this movie is loaded from beginning to end with studio settings, quotes on working, living and thinking like an architect, that I can't sufficiently summarize it in a few paragraphs. As the movie progresses, Kracklite becomes more and more insane. He writes postcards to the dead architect he is celebrating, he photocopies pictures and sketches of stomachs endlessly, he punches a lot of people in the nose, starts to believe that his wife is trying to poison him and his colleagues are plotting against him.

Of course, during all this insanity, his wife does nothing to make him feel better.
Architect: Tell me please, what does 'oh-ahhh' mean?
Wife: Stourley, you've built six-and-a-half-buildings. And now you're spending nine months putting on an exhibition in memory of another architect who also built practically nothing.

Of the whole movie, there is one thing that I have to comment on because of its originality. When Kracklite goes to visit a doctor about his stomach pains, the doctor asks what symptoms the architect has.
Not wasting even a moment, the architect says "Why yes, I've been documenting the symptoms."
Here, we would expect a verbal account of whats going on, the sensations that are being felt, an emotional expression of the pain that is spoken. However, the architect proceeds to take out a folder and hand the doctor more than a dozen sketches over photocopies of stomachs, frenzied drawings of red, orange and yellow. Images that are grotesque yet beautiful,images that convey the silent suffering that the architect endures throughout the last months of his life.


  1. Nice post - architect pictures ..Keep Posting

    architect pictures

  2. What a great book! as epic as Viagra without a prescription and it's incredible formula against impotence!

  3. Peter Greenaway must be the only filmmaker in the world who watches people having sex and is instantly reminded of geometry. It's quite a niche he's carved for himself, as the Cartesian diagrammatist of perverse desire, and it isn't one that some other artist is likely to usurp from him.