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The Draughtsman's Contract
The Draughtsman's Contract
Actors: Anthony Higgins, Janet Suzman, Anne-Louise Lambert, Hugh Fraser, Neil Cunningham
Director: Peter Greenaway
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
R     1999     1hr 43min

"I try very hard never to distort or dissemble," says Mr. Neville (Anthony Higgins), a draughtsman of considerable talent contracted by a certain Mrs. Herbert (Janet Suzman) to make 12 drawings for her absent husband of th...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Anthony Higgins, Janet Suzman, Anne-Louise Lambert, Hugh Fraser, Neil Cunningham
Director: Peter Greenaway
Creators: Curtis Clark, Peter Greenaway, John Wilson, David Payne, Peter Sainsbury
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Fox Lorber
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
DVD Release Date: 12/14/1999
Original Release Date: 01/01/1983
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1983
Release Year: 1999
Run Time: 1hr 43min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 8
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
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Member Movie Reviews

Robert S. (radonfish) from ROGERS, TX
Reviewed on 12/20/2011...
well, just as the reviewer said, "its not my cup o' tea" at all. syrupy slow and convoluted, effused with minutia, boooooring....
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.

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"This beautifully shot, highly intelligent, somewhat surreal and shockingly unknown film was originally made by Peter Greenaway for the opening night of Channel Four Television in Britain, and represents, perhaps, the man at his peak.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."