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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Belly of an Architect [Blu-ray]


(Peter Greenaway, 1987)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Tangram Film / MGM

Video: BFI



Region: 'B' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:59:12.041

Disc Size: 34,279,295,586 bytes

Feature Size: 30,144,227,328 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.85 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: June 18th, 2012



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit



English (SDH), none



• Insight: Terence Conran (Peter Greenaway, 1981, 14:33): portrait of the designer and entrepreneur with an uncredited score by Micheal Nyman
Fully illustrated booklet with newly essay, interview, biographies and credits by Michael Brooke, Donald Ranvaud and Marcia Landy
DVD-ROM content featuring original script, press pack and sheet music





Description: World Premiere Blu-ray edition, and first time on DVD or Blu-ray in the UK for one of Peter Greenaway's most acclaimed films.

Brian Dennehy stars as the distinguished American architect Stourley Kracklite, in Rome with his young wife, Louisa (Chloe Webb), to supervise an exhibition devoted to his hero, the eighteenth-century architect Étienne-Louis Boullée.

Stourley honours the past at the expense of his present, driving the neglected Louisa into the arms of his rival, Caspasian (Lambert Wilson). Wracked with abdominal pains, jealousy and paranoia, he slowly loses his grip on all that is important to him.

One of the most visually striking films of the 1980s, with a celebrated score by Glenn Branca and Wim Mertens, The Belly of an Architect shows one of British cinema's true visionaries at the height of his powers.



The Film:

Without question, Mr. Greenway deserves credit for naming his hero Stourley Kracklite, calling his villain Caspasian Speckler, and using his film to celebrate Rome and its architecture with such elegance and discernment. But ''The Belly of an Architect'' may have as much to do with one man's intestinal maladies as with art, beauty, obsession, permanence and mortality, subjects to which it also pays some attention. It's hard to know. And watching the film's visual obsessiveness - with architectural shapes and symmetry, with cool, stationary long shots, even with the marble surfaces and deep, velvety tones that give it visual texture - becomes an ever less rewarding pursuit as the measure of the film's solipsism becomes known.

Excerpt from Janet Maslin at the NY Times located HERE

American architect Stourley Kracklite (Brian Dennehy) comes with his young wife Louisa (Chloe Webb) 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 (Lambert Wilson). 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.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Peter Greenaway's gorgeous The Belly of an Architect appears very strong on Blu-ray from the BFI in the UK.  The image is thick with grain and texture, colors (reds and maroons are prominent) are vivid and I'd describe the overall appearance as being 'rich'. There is some noise in the darker sequences.  The transfer is dual-layered with a high bitrate. Skin tones seem true and contrast exhibits healthy, rich black levels. Detail has impressive moments in close-ups. The 1.85:1 transfer is very clean without speckles or damage. This Blu-ray seems to be exporting a very authentic, consistent, and film-like representation of the film.

















Audio :

BFI have gone with a linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 2304 kbps. Every nuance of the audio is clean and clear. The original music was composed by Wim Mertens and supports the film very using the lossless rendering. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

Extras on the disc include Insight: Terence Conran - a 15-minute, 1981, Peter Greenaway film as a portrait of the designer and entrepreneur with an uncredited score by Micheal Nyman. The package contains a fully illustrated booklet with newly essay, interview, biographies and credits by Michael Brooke, Donald Ranvaud and Marcia Landy and being dual-format we get a DVD that has DVD-ROM content featuring original script, press pack and sheet music.



Wonderful package from the BFI. This is the world Premiere for The Belly of an Architect on Blu-ray and this brilliant-looking film has been given a rewarding transfer. Greenaway fans should be ecstatic at being able to see this as close to theatrical as probably in their home theater comfort, Strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

June 8th, 2012



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
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APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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