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The Belly of an Architect

Where to Watch The Belly of an Architect

R
1987

The Belly of an Architect is a thought-provoking drama film from 1987 helmed by Peter Greenaway, a masterful director known for blending art with cinema. This film delves into the psyche of a struggling architect who battles both declining health and interpersonal conflicts while working on an imposing Roman project.

In this intellectual and artistic film, esteemed actor Brian Dennehy portrays the protagonist, Stourley Kracklite. Dennehy infuses his character with an abundance of depth and range, presenting a man grappling not only with earthly challenges but existential queries regarding the intricacies of life, art, and the inescapable presence of time.

The film is set against the backdrop of Rome's majestic architecture, a setting that brilliantly syncs with the protagonist's career and internal struggles. Stourley, an architect from Chicago, arrives in Rome with his young wife, Louisa, played convincingly by Chloe Webb. The couple is in the city to curate an exhibition about the 18th-century French architect Étienne-Louis Boullée, a figure Stourley highly admires and is, ironically, reflective of his own predicament.

Stourley immerses himself in the grandeur of Rome's architecture, viewing it not only as an artistic endeavour but also as an existential exploration. He is a man obsessed with the longevity and permanence of buildings in stark contrast to the transiency of human life, a theme that is central to the entire narrative. However, as Stourley's obsession grows, he finds himself facing a host of problems.

Simultaneously, as Stourley's fixation with structures heightens, his health begins to falter severely, with him believing that he's suffering from a stomach ailment, an insidious problem that seems to parallel his unraveling personal life and career. Meanwhile, Louisa, feeling neglected and somewhat lost in Rome, begins to drift apart from her husband, entangled in an arrangement with a younger man, Caspasian Speckler, portrayed by Lambert Wilson.

The progressive estrangement between Stourley and Louisa, coupled with his deteriorating health, builds a complex matrix of tension and conflict that propels the narrative forward. The director's exceptional brilliance lies in his ability to correlate Stourley's burgeoning health issues, symbolized through the constant reference to the 'belly,' with his personal troubles and professional despair, spinning a web of metaphorical complexities.

The narrative is highly enriched by Greenaway's artistic eye for detail which brings forth symbolic imagery and sequences. The movie is filled with scenes that heavily rely on visual symmetry and detail, which is a testament to Greenaway's background in painting. His use of Rome's grand architecture, like the famous Roman Pantheon, adds another level of richness to the themes and overall cinematographic experience.

Moreover, the filmmaker indulges in constant visual and narrative references to the cyclical nature of history, the impermanence of human life compared to the endurance of architectural creations, and how personal and professional choices reflect on one's perceived legacy. These aspects not only provide a philosophical layering to the plot but also encapsulate the existential dread that the protagonist experiences increasingly.

Greenaway's film is not a light-hearted feast; rather, it delves into the intricacies of human relationships, professional passion, and the relentless quest for heritage and legacy. The visual aesthetics coupled with interesting character dynamics and a narrative fused with elements of tragedy and irony make it a fascinating exploration of an architect's mind and his journey.

In its essence, The Belly of an Architect, much like its main character, seeks to examine the weight of existence, the cost of legacy, and the struggle between the ephemeral human life and the constant march of time represented by the enduring constructs of architecture, in an especially Greenaway-esque philosophical musing, scoring high on both emotional depth and intellectual stimulation.

The Belly of an Architect is a Drama movie released in 1987. It has a runtime of 120 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.9..

How to Watch The Belly of an Architect

Where can I stream The Belly of an Architect movie online? The Belly of an Architect is available to watch and stream at Amazon Prime, Apple TV Channels, FuboTV, The Roku Channel.

6.9/10
Director
Peter Greenaway
Stars
Brian Dennehy, Chloe Webb
Genres
Also starring Brian Dennehy
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