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The Draughtsman's Contract (1982)

7.3
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Reviews: 35 user | 36 critic

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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Title: The Draughtsman's Contract (1982)

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Cast

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
Nicholas Amer ...
Mr Parkes (as Nicolas Amer)
...
Mrs Pierpont
Lynda La Plante ...
Mrs Clement (as Lynda Marchal)
...
The Statue
...
Philip
Steve Ubels ...
Mr. van Hoyten
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

A landscape of lust and cunning. [Video Australia]

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Mystery

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

30 June 1983 (Netherlands)  »

Also Known As:

Tegnerens kontrakt  »

Box Office

Budget:

£300,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The close-up shots of the draughtsman drawing are of Peter Greenaway's hands. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

References Asylum of Satan (1972) See more »

Soundtracks

Eye For Optical Theory
(uncredited)
Written by Michael Nyman
Performed by Nyman Band
See more »

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User Reviews

Self Referential Allegorical Mystery
22 July 2000 | by (Virginia Beach) – See all my reviews

Is Greenaway our most intelligent filmmaker? One of them at least. He is master of lush self-referential allegory. Here this is hung on a mystery masquerading as restoration comedy. Just maintaining the period and manner is quite a feat.

Self-reference. The film is about an artist who creates rich images that include incongruous elements. The arrogance of the artist is balanced by his blindness as to the meaning, the context of what the images reveal. Both the artist and the viewers are confused by the meaning and flummoxed by the events that the meaning triggers. Greenaway clearly means this to extend to himself, his film and the incompleteness of what we the viewers see. The drawings and the drawer's hands are in fact his.

Fantasy-allegory. This is a film richer in symbology than Drowning and Cook, but probably less so than the later `book' movies. Great attention has been spent on recondite supplementary images, including a central painting in the house being itself painted by the draftsman and filmmaker. I viewed it (the whole film) once just for details. The living statue is only the most obvious illogical element, and in fact draws attention away from other smaller visual diversions.

Mystery artifice. The whole environment is one of genteel artifice, hiding cruel mechanics of conspiracy. The cleverness of the construction is that Greenaway and us are full conspirators. No one, not us, him or the characters shown fully understand what is going on. The mystery form has always been a dialog between artist and consumer, a contest to see who can outwit whom. Very clever use of the mystery form here to include us in the artifice by not ever `playing fair.'

Restoration comedy. Past the visual allegory and the fantasy mystery and the self-reference is a restoration comedy which taken straight is hilarious. The statue is from this form.

My only criticisms are minor. This film contains a restrained story, and incidentally all sex takes place offscreen. Why be so conservative in these areas? Also, Lady Herbert required a more powerful actress I think.


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