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The Draughtsman's Contract (1982)

Mr. Neville, a cocksure young artist is contracted by Mrs. Herbert, the wife of a wealthy landowner, to produce a set of twelve drawings of her husband's estate, a contract which extends ... See full summary »




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1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
R Neville / Mr Neville
Virginia Herbert / Mrs Herbert
Anne-Louise Lambert ...
Mrs. Talmann (as Anne Louise Lambert)
Mr Talmann
Neil Cunningham ...
Thomas Noyes / Mr Noyes
Dave Hill ...
Mr Herbert
Mr Seymour
David Meyer ...
The Poulencs
Tony Meyer ...
The Poulencs
Mr Parkes (as Nicolas Amer)
Mrs Pierpont
Mrs Clement (as Lynda Marchal)
The Statue
Philip (as Alastair Cumming)
Steve Ubels ...
Mr. van Hoyten


Mr. Neville, a cocksure young artist is contracted by Mrs. Herbert, the wife of a wealthy landowner, to produce a set of twelve drawings of her husband's estate, a contract which extends much further than either the purse or the sketchpad. The sketches themselves prove of an even greater significance than supposed upon the discovery of the body of Mr. Herbert. Written by Paul Kevin Harm <pkharm@papyrus-inc.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A landscape of lust and cunning. [Video Australia]


Comedy | Drama | Mystery


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| |

Release Date:

30 June 1983 (Netherlands)  »

Also Known As:

El contrato del dibujante  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


£320,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The movie was originally inspired by Peter Greenaway's attempts to draw a house he'd rented for a vacation and finding that the sun rising/falling changed the shadows and appearance too rapidly for a drawing to be completed in one sitting. He thus spent a specific period each day drawing the house from a specific angle (like the draughtsman in the movie). See more »


The cooing of a collared dove is not a sound that would have fallen on Jacobean ears, as the species was unknown in Britain until 1955. See more »


[first lines]
Mr. Noyes: Mr. Chandos was a man who spent more time with his gardener than his wife. They discussed plum trees - ad nauseam. He gave his family and his tennants cause to dread September, for they were regaled with plums till their guts rumbled like thunder and their backsides ached from overuse. He built the chapel at Fouvant, where the pew seats are made of plumwood, so the tennants still have cause to remember Chandos through their backsides - on account of the splinters.
See more »


Spoofs Last Year at Marienbad (1961) See more »


Disposition Of The Linen
Written by Michael Nyman
Performed by Nyman Band
See more »

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User Reviews

A convoluted enigma of a picture, but a must see one.
11 June 2000 | by (England) – See all my reviews

This is a most intricately structured enigma of a film, one that seems on the surface to be ordinary, but underneath has many layers that need examining in detail from several viewings. The story is set in the English countryside in 1694. The prominent character is a draughtsman named Mr. Neville, who is asked by a lady named Mrs. Herbert to make twelve drawings of her house from different angles. He agrees, as long as he can have the lady for his intimate pleasure.

Mr. Neville is a perfectionist, and very meticulous in his drawings. He states to everyone at the house all his rules about everything that has to remain in the same place while he draws. The film moves along nicely, everything seems usual, then events start to become strange. Stone statues start to move around, and take up different locations to contort into another static pose. Objects start to change location to confuse Mr. Neville in his drawings. Then Mrs. Herbert's daughter approaches Mr. Neville and tells him her father may have been murdered. She says she has evidence to indict Mr. Neville of his murder, and blackmails him, requesting his service for her sexual needs. Then Mr. Herbert's body is found in a ditch and things get even more complex.

This film is one of those that you need to watch and try and unravel yourself. To try to do that here in this review is almost impossible. I recommend it. It is exquisitely performed and filmed. The costumes are good. The speeches by the cast are delivered in a grandiose and statement-like manner. The music is appropriate. A classic piece of puzzling cinema that will have you watching it many times.

20 of 25 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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