The Draughtsman's Contract (1982)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Mystery  |  30 June 1983 (Netherlands)
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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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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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A landscape of lust and cunning. [Video Australia]


Comedy | Drama | Mystery


R | See all certifications »




| |

Release Date:

30 June 1983 (Netherlands)  »

Also Known As:

El contrato del dibujante  »

Box Office


£320,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The length of the film's original cut ran about three hours long. But Peter Greenaway's original cut ran over four hours. He has stated his intention to edit the cut footage, along with additional outtakes, into an entirely new feature entitled "The Hedgecutters". 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.
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Chasing Sheep Is Best Left To Shepherds
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User Reviews

Conceit, Deception and Power
21 May 1999 | by (Vancouver, BC Canada) – See all my reviews

Being of English origin the film has a particular fascination. Certain things become apparent if you know England well, but also I suspect on repeated viewing.

A tale of conceit, deception and power. The conceit of the Draughtsman, all too apparent, is matched by the conceit of the upper classes as the film unfolds. The pictoral conceit referred to in the film repeatedly is matched by a pictoral conceit played on the viewer: the wigs were never that big, the house, garden and grounds stunning and the weather too perfect.

Deception exists at many levels. The viewer is deceived as to where the houses and events take place. The allusions are to Southampton and surrounding areas. Being from the Southampton area I realized this wasn't Southampton. Though it could possibly have been. The deception was convincing. The location is Kent. I believe this deception, which fits so nicely in the film anyway, was pulled so that the owner of the house where the film is centred around would not be invaded by tourists. A nice touch which I suspect follows the line in the film, something like this), "Do you think Mrs Talbot is a lady who likes her gravel being kicked around by a pack of dogs."

The arrogance and exploitation of the ladies of the house by the Draughtsman, readily apparent, is more sinisterly exceeded by the arrogance and exploitation of the Draughtsman by the ladies. The Draughtsman provides a cover for murder, solves the problem of transfer of the property by siring a child and finally ends up as the scapegoat for murder. While the Draughtsman may appear to be playing with the household for his own amusement, the Draughtsman himself is the focus of a much more brutal and more deadly game.

Like all the best films there is much going on in the film. The lines and language are wonderfully rich. The camera merely shows you the events. And it is not above deceiving you as a viewer. Trying to make sense of it all is great fun. Many things I didn't even see until the second or third viewing, let alone make sense of them!

A beautiful allegory which slowly unfolds and challenges the senses. Much like The Prisoner (1967) tv series, and hopefully The Prisoner (2000) movie.

21 of 30 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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