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The Draughtsman's Contract
The Draughtsman's Contract
Actors: Anthony Higgins, Anne-Louise Lambert, Janet Suzman
Director: Peter Greenaway
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2008     1hr 47min

Set in a richly exaggerated 17th-century England, Peter Greenaway's sumptuous and sensuously charged brainteaser catapulted him to the forefront of international art cinema. Adorned with intricate wordplay, extravagant cos...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Anthony Higgins, Anne-Louise Lambert, Janet Suzman
Director: Peter Greenaway
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Zeitgeist Films
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/12/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 47min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 7
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
See Also:

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Movie Reviews

My favorite movie
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is the only movie I've seen more than five times. The plot is always fascinating because every explanation I come up with has some flaw, although there seem to be clues everywhere. The arch dialog is delicious, and delivered by the actors with obvious relish. This is the only movie I find myself quoting lines from, simply for the fun of it. The cast is perfect. The music is wonderfully atmospheric. The scenery is luscious. It may require a decadent taste to enjoy this movie, but if you have that, it is the ideal entertainment. I haven't found anything else of Peter Greenaway's watchable. But The Draughtsman's Contract is a masterpiece."
Quite fascinating
Daniel Sutton | Los Angeles, CA, USA | 10/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This beautifully shot, highly intelligent, somewhat surreal and shockingly unknown film was originally made by Peter Greenaway for the opening night of Channel Four Television in Britain, and represents, perhaps, the man at his peak. The story, which avoids any direct explanations of itself or its plot, centres around a draughtsman (Higgins) who is hired to produce twelve drawings of a stately home in England. While he draws, objects appear in the landscape around him, which he includes in his drawings... when a body finally surfaces, do the drawings contain evidence concerning the identities of its murderers, or has some clever person purposely placed the objects in order to frame someone else... possibly the draughtsman himself? One may watch the film many times, each time coming up with a different answer; the motives and dialogue contradict each other just enough to add to the mystery, but not enough to ruin any possible explanation. The sountrack (by Michael Nyman) is also interesting: the themes within it are based on eight-bar samples of Mozart which are repeated and improvised upon, to hypnotising and evocative effect. A fascinating film."
Games for Adults
Charles S. Tashiro | Agoura Hills, CA USA | 05/12/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Peter Greenaway may be the last indisputably distinctive Anglophone filmmaker. With "The Draughtsman's Contract," he broke through from relative obscurity as an experimental artist into feature-length narratives. While his subsequent films have been more conservative than his earlier work, he remains a highly original and innovative artist. "Contract" may be his most balanced film, integrating much of his earlier formal experimentation with the demands of narrative. Greenaway is just about the only well-known filmmaker with an interest in the art and film theory of the past thirty-five years. His is a "meta-cinema," at least as much about the act of making and watching movies as about particular situations. Summarizing the story of "The Draughtsman's Contract," for example, gives only a limited sense of what watching the movie is like. As some of the reviews here have pointed out, you cannot watch "Contract" without noticing the perspective tools used by Mr. Neville. These technologies anticipate the optics used in photography and cinematography. As we are aware of how they contribute to 17th century draftsmanship we (in theory at least) recognize the construction of the very images we are viewing. In short, through these and other techniques, you are too aware of experiencing the film to become engrossed in it.If you are not comfortable with such distancing, "The Draughtsman's Contract" may not be your cup of tea. On the other hand, there is certainly "much to be applauded" in "The Draughtsman's Contract." As in virtually all of Greenaway's work, the visual design and cinematography are exquisite and all the more remarkable given the film was shot in 16mm. The actors obviously relish the chance to make the film's baroque dialogue compelling, lively, believable as everyday speech. (Incidentally, fans of the British "Poirot" series should get a chuckle out of Hugh Fraser's snide, arch, thoroughly unpleasant Mr. Talmann. It's almost impossible to believe that under the wigs and layers of linen and between the pauses in a viscous German accent is Poirot's amiable poodle, Captain Hastings.) "Contract" was also as much a breakthrough for Greenaway's favorite composer, Michael Nyman, as it was for the director. The score's Purcellian themes and arrangements are a little a-typical for the composer, however.If you are familiar with the film or Greenaway's other work, you should be aware that the transfer is adequate without being stunning. While matted for widescreen, the disc is not 16:9 enhanced, which is a pity. Blown up to fill a widescreen TV, the grain gets a bit noticeable. I recommend viewing the disc in matted 4:3 mode. If you have never seen a Greenaway film, "The Draughtsman's Contract" makes an excellent introduction to the intricacies and paradoxes of his thematically and sensually rich cinema."
Good things to come?
Nobody | 02/09/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"An enhanced version of this movie is certainly welcome, possibly it will introduce the film to a new audience. If you've never seen the film and you count yourself as a movie buff, you must. I'm not saying you'll come away as a champion of the movie, I'm sure their are as many people who think it was silly and confusing as those who attribute genius to the production. But regardless, it's a stunningly beautiful film and there can be no argument that it's compelling to watch, which seems to be Greenaway's forte, stirring up the pot, but with the most elegant eye candy.

This DVD presents a "restored" version of the film, which as explained in a special feature, is not actually a frame by frame "Vertigo" style effort, but a digital wash through a couple of programs that eliminate flicker and improve detail. In any case, as illustrated in the examples shown, the process does produce a noticeably cleaner film. The question is should you rush out and replace your existing copy? I have the 1999 DVD, and I can now see the flaws, but they weren't so bad that it affected my enjoyment in any way. Your call, even the new version is not that great, this was his first (feature) film, and was filmed with rather primitive equipment.

Now, if this new series, with "Greenaway" across the top, will finally produce an appropriate DVD version of "Prospero's Books", not the ridiculously horrible version burped up by AA Classics sometime back, that would be something to celebrate indeed."