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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

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
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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 »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

30 June 1983 (Netherlands)  »

Also Known As:

El contrato del dibujante  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

£320,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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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

Referenced in The Serpent's Kiss (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Chasing Sheep Is Best Left To Shepherds
(uncredited)
Written by Michael Nyman
Performed by Nyman Band
See more »

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User Reviews

Extraordinary, beautiful, puzzling and disturbing.
15 November 1998 | by (Manchester, England) – See all my reviews

A most extraordinary film. A fascinating study of manipulation and murder, of sex, power and the abuse of sex and power. This is not always an easy film to like, it has a coldly clinical approach to its subject and protagonists which produces an intentionally distancing effect.

In one scene, the Draughtsman invites the Lady of the House to examine a painting, owned by her husband, in which a complex allegory appears to be being acted out. I see this as an analogy for the film as a whole - it is an arch, stylised, intelligent and beautiful puzzle (a murder-mystery) in which the audience is encouraged to consider the motives and objectives of the characters, but from which many important clues appear to have been deliberately removed.

This might all sound frustrating, but I find the film endlessly intriguing and entertaining. It's like a very clever and stunningly photographed Agatha Christie mystery, but without an annoying sleuth who comes along at the end and solves everything "oh-so-neatly".

The photography is exemplary (the cinematographer, Curtis Clark, seems to have done little else of note), with the camera hardly moving at all, except for an occasional tracking shot. The Kent countryside used to maximum effect, and the costumes are sumptuous (especially the wigs!). The music is also superb, with Michael Nyman producing probably his finest score.

An engaging, puzzling, visually stunning and, ultimately, rather disturbing film.


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