The postcard Grand Tour of Rome: creating an urban pattern out of monuments

WEDNESDAY 7 MARCH, 18.00–19.30

Renée Tobe (BSR; East London)

British filmmaker Peter Greenaway came to Rome on a visit, suffered from indigestion and devised his plot for Belly of an Architect (1987) in which an American (in the style of Henry James) visits Rome in order to prepare an exhibition of the works of neoclassical architect Étienne-Louis Boullée (1728-1799) in the Monument Vittorio Emanuele II. Rome in film manifests itself according to the specific filmmaker’s perspective and there are different kinds of Roman films. While Italian neorealist films strove to cultivate the opposite of the monumentality of Rome, the ‘English abroad’ celebrates the place and position of temples, monuments and civic buildings. The monuments in the film are deliberately framed like postcards. Central to a discussion of imperialist politics lies a nostalgia for Rome’s glorious past.