This essay reconsiders the critical reception of Robert Altman’s Brewster McCloud (1970); in particular, the common figurative interpretations of both the film’s protagonist as a “modern day Icarus” and its primary setting, the Houston Astrodome, as a “metaphor of modernity”. Tracing the ways these readings have influenced the film’s reputation, the histories of Altman’s career, and the perceptions of Houston’s post-war urban development, the essay maps the numerous repetitions of the figures of creative spirits and societal cages. By focusing on the numerous coincidences and contingencies of the film’s production and exhibition – including its extravagant, sound-troubled World Premiere inside the Astrodome – the article explores both the limits of myth and metaphor and the possibilities of an outside for analyzing the relationship between film, architecture, and the city.

The integral version of this article can be found in the printed KINO!