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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 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Director Peter Greenaway has said: "I consider that 90% of my films one way or another refers to paintings. "Contract" [The Draughtsman's Contract (1982)] quite openly refers to Caravaggio, Georges de La Tour and other French and Italian artists" as well as Vermeer, Rembrandt, and other Baroque artists. 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 »
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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A convoluted enigma of a picture, but a must see one.
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.
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