members enjoy 20% off every delivery of nappies. Join today to get your discount, as well as a free trial of Amazon Prime and access to exclusive offers and discounts.
Frequently Bought Together
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Perhaps it is a mid-life crisis and a fear of death that simultaneously hits Chicago architect Stourley Kracklite (Brian Dennehy). He has traveled to Rome to present an elaborate tribute to the French architect Louis Boullee. Kracklite is fifty-four years old, uncertain that he has fulfilled the promise of his youth. He is married to a woman (Chloe Webb) young enough to be his daughter. So when he begins to develop stomach pains (perhaps due to a growing stomach tumor) while working in Rome and gets no satisfaction from doctors, he begins to believe his wife is poisoning him. Furthermore it appears that she is having an affair with an Italian architect named Caspasian (Lambert Wilson) who also desires to take over Kracklite's Boullee project. I think a lot of men in their fifties can identify with these sorts of threats to their well-being and perhaps be unable to tell the real from the unreal.
So the human belly is a big deal in this film. At one point Kracklite prints out scores of photocopies of the belly of a Roman statue as if in scrutinizing mass copies of a flat belly he might somehow explain why he is in pain. Or perhaps the flat belly symbolizes his lost youth and the insecure feeling he has about the affection and faithfulness of Louisa, his young wife. Maybe it is even the case that the belly is a euphemistic symbol of something else that is no longer as vital as it once was. When men in their fifties worry about such things they also worry about their ability not just to cut the mustard but the quality of their work. In short, they worry about being superseded. One cannot help but feel in this case that Kracklite's growing paranoia is in part responsible for his declining power. Fear of something may give it strength.
As for the way cinematic auteur Peter Greenaway directs this film, I think his intent is to let the film reflect the subject matter in the sense that both are of artistic intent rather than the movie being a commercial enterprise. (That is perhaps an understatement.) He shows the beauty of the architectural ruins of Rome. He thinks in terms of tableaux in wide shots. He picks a backdrop and sets the camera at some distance from the backdrop: Italian ruins, a spacious lobby, expansive steps in front of an impressive building. And then he plays the scene. Unlike most modern directors he mostly eschews close-ups. I'd rather he didn't. The effect is like being in a theater watching a play. There is a certain appropriateness I suppose about this technique since it creates in the viewer a feeling of spying, which is exactly what Kracklite finds himself doing in one scene, looking through a keyhole to see what his wife and Capasian are doing; and Greenaway has us see too, at the same distance.
In another sense, there is a studied feel to this movie that suggests something a bit cold like marble which again is appropriate. Yet Brian Dennehy, in an intense, engaging performance, makes us feel for him and his predicament. We understand that he is realizing his mortality and we appreciate that his reaction is understandably confused and frightened. As for his wife, she seems distant not only because of the camera work but perhaps because she is psychologically estranged from her husband and from what he is going through.Read more ›
This movie is, together with Fellini's La dolce vita, one of the strongest tributes to Rome. The "ethernal town" is rebuilt and reinvented by Greenaway to go straight to its core. The quality of picture and audio is stunning: the great cinematography and photography of the painter-director is fully preserved, including the original film grain. A must for all lovers of great cinema.