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The Belly of an Architect (1987)

R | | Drama | 16 October 1987 (UK)
1:32 | Trailer

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An architect supervising an exhibition starts to have mysterious stomach pains while his life slowly falls apart.


Peter Greenaway


Peter Greenaway
2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Brian Dennehy ... Stourley Kracklite
Chloe Webb ... Louisa Kracklite
Lambert Wilson ... Caspasian Speckler
Sergio Fantoni ... Io Speckler
Stefania Casini ... Flavia Speckler
Vanni Corbellini Vanni Corbellini ... Frederico
Alfredo Varelli Alfredo Varelli ... Julio
Geoffrey Copleston Geoffrey Copleston ... Caspetti
Francesco Carnelutti Francesco Carnelutti ... Pastarri
Marino Masé ... Trettorio
Marne Maitland ... Battistino
Claudio Spadaro ... Mori
Rate Furlan Rate Furlan ... Violinist
Julian Jenkins Julian Jenkins ... Old Doctor
Enrica Maria Scrivano Enrica Maria Scrivano ... Mother


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 <ofirz@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




R | See all certifications »



UK | Italy


English | Italian

Release Date:

16 October 1987 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Arkitektens mage See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


the sound track is one of the best albums of Wim Mertens. Mertens is best known for his opus "Struggle for Pleasure". See more »


The violinists (c.25 minutes and c. 99 minutes) mime very badly. See more »


Caspasian Speckler: Your wife is very beautiful, Signor Kracklite, especially when she is pregnant.
Stourley Kracklite: Yes, that's right. She is pregnant. But not with your child, Speckler.
Caspasian 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]
See more »

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User Reviews

My favourite Greenaway

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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