THE BELLY OF AN ARCHITECT / DER BAUCH DES ARCHITEKTEN
Peter Greenaway. United Kingdom 1987 - 118 min.
(FSK: ab 12; feiertagsfrei
Distribution: Concorde, VPS (Video)
Release Date: 1.10.1987/23.6.1988 Video/12.4.1989 ZDF
Production Company: Mondial/Tangram
Produced by: Colin Callender, Walter Donohue
Screenplay: Peter Greenaway
Cinematography: Sacha Vierny
Music: Wim Mertens
Editing: John Wilson
Cast: Brian Dennehy (Stourley Kracklite), Lambert Wilson (Caspasian Speckler), Chloe Webb (Louisa Kracklite), Sergio Fantoni (Io Speckler), Stefania Casini (Flavia Speckler)
The ebullient Brian Dennehy gives a fine performance as Stourley Kracklite, an American architect who is in Rome with his younger wife Louisa (Chloe Webb) to arrange an exhibition on the French architect Etienne-Louis Boullée. Kracklite is obsessed with Boullée and even writes letters to him. Kracklite's life soon begins to deteriorate. He starts to suffer excruciating stomach pains and vomits each time he eats. He even thinks that his wife is poisoning him. His wife then falls pregnant and has an affair with Kracklite's rival architect, Caspasian Speckler (Lambert Wilson). Kracklite then sleeps with Speckler's sister, to get some sort of satisfaction. Speckler intrudes while they are having sex, and announces, »having sex with your pregnant wife is perfect, because I don't need to use contraception«. Kracklite then punches him on the nose. Speckler's sister then says, »Don't put your blood on my white towel!«
The film follows the parallels of these two unappreciated architects from different eras. The film is memorable for Dennehy's (an actor who is also unappreciated) remarkable performance. Also, the beautiful cinematography by Greenaway's trusty DOP Sacha Vierny makes the film very easy to look at. From the ancient architecture of Rome, to a painting-like bowl of figs, it is pristine-looking. Michael Nyman is absent, but the music by Wim Mertens is splendid. This film was made in between A Zed & Two Noughts and Drowning by Numbers, and it is quite unlike those two films, which, I think, are superior to this in the way they offer us a much more enigmatic, abstract concept. But even an ever so slightly lesser Greenaway film is a thing to behold.