IMDb > The Draughtsman's Contract (1982)
The Draughtsman's Contract
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The Draughtsman's Contract (1982) More at IMDbPro »

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Peter Greenaway (writer)
View company contact information for The Draughtsman's Contract on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
30 June 1983 (Netherlands) See more »
A landscape of lust and cunning. [Video Australia]
Mr. Neville, a cocksure young artist is contracted by Mrs. Herbert, the wife of a wealthy landowner... See more » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 win & 3 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
An eye for optical theory See more (36 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Anthony Higgins ... R Neville / Mr Neville

Janet Suzman ... Virginia Herbert / Mrs Herbert
Anne-Louise Lambert ... Mrs. Talmann (as Anne Louise Lambert)

Hugh Fraser ... Mr Talmann
Neil Cunningham ... Thomas Noyes / Mr Noyes
Dave Hill ... Mr Herbert

David Gant ... Mr Seymour
David Meyer ... The Poulencs
Tony Meyer ... The Poulencs
Nicholas Amer ... Mr Parkes (as Nicolas Amer)

Suzan Crowley ... Mrs Pierpont

Lynda La Plante ... Mrs Clement (as Lynda Marchal)

Michael Feast ... The Statue

Alastair Cumming ... Philip
Steve Ubels ... Mr. van Hoyten
Ben Kirby ... Augustus
Sylvia Rotter ... Governess
Kate Doherty ... Maid
David Joss Buckley ... Mr Porringer (as Joss Buckley)
Michael Carter ... Mr Clarke (as Mike Carter)
Vivienne Maya ... Laundress (as Vivienne Chandler)
Geoffrey Larder ... Mr Hammond
Harry Van Engel ... Servant (as Harry van Engel)
George Miller ... Servant

Directed by
Peter Greenaway 
Writing credits
Peter Greenaway (writer)

Produced by
David Payne .... producer
Original Music by
Michael Nyman 
Cinematography by
Curtis Clark (photography)
Film Editing by
John Wilson 
Casting by
Lucy Boulting 
Art Direction by
Bob Ringwood 
Costume Design by
Sue Blane 
Makeup Department
Christine Allsopp .... make-up assistant
Lois Burwell .... make-up
Robbie Gardner .... wig and hair stylist
Peter King .... wig and hair stylist
Peter Owen .... wigs created by
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Andy Powell .... assistant director
Art Department
Kenneth Breese .... calligraphy
Alan Brown .... painter
Bob Coleman .... carpenter
Jane Hamilton .... design assistant
Digby Howard .... design assistant
Michael Hunter .... props
Tom Raeburn .... props (as Tommy Raeburn)
Charlie Simmons .... construction manager
Peter Greenaway .... drawings: Mr. Neville (uncredited)
Sound Department
Tony Anscombe .... dubbing mixer
Bob Doyle .... sound assistant
Godfrey Kirby .... sound
Doctor Lion .... dubbing editor
Clive Osborne .... sound assistant
John Speer .... sound: Cine Lingual
Lionel Strutt .... A.D.R.
Aad Wirtz .... assistant dubbing mixer (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
John Swinnerton .... rostrum camera operator (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Simon Archer .... grip
Simon Archer .... stills
Steve Blake .... gaffer
Luke Cardiff .... camera assistant
Curtis Clark .... lighting cameraman
Hugh Gordon .... rostrum camera
James Merrell .... stills
Paul Woods .... assistant gaffer
Gordon Wright .... rigger
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Caroline Bayliss .... assistant costumes maker
Sue Blane .... costume
Ellen Cairns .... assistant costumes maker
Sue Langridge .... wardrobe
Colin Macneil .... costumes made by
David Perry .... costume design co-ordinator
Tony Williams .... wardrobe (as Anthony Williams)
Editorial Department
John Taylor .... assistant editor
Music Department
Alexander Balanescu .... musician
Malcolm Bennett .... musician
David Cunningham .... music producer
Ben Grove .... musician
John Harle .... musician
Ian Mitchell .... musician
Michael Nyman .... musician
Elisabeth Perry .... musician
Edward Pillinger .... musician
J. Martin Rex .... music engineer (as Martin Rex)
Christopher Royall .... musician: counter-tenor (as Chris Royale)
Steve Saunders .... musician
Keith Thompson .... musician
David White .... musician
Stina Wilson .... musician
Tony Cousins .... post-production music editor (uncredited)
Andrew Findon .... musician: baritone sax (uncredited)
Brad Grisdale .... assistant music engineer (uncredited)
Barry Guy .... musician: double bass (uncredited)
Dave Hunt .... assistant music engineer (uncredited)
Michael Nyman .... music supervisor (uncredited)
Henry Purcell .... music consultant (uncredited)
Steve Smith .... assistant music engineer (uncredited)
Transportation Department
Rupert Christie .... driver
Michael Coulson .... driver
Safi Farrah .... driver
Gillian Strachan .... driver
Other crew
Peter Broughan .... production officer
Len Brown .... laboratory supervisor
Hugh Gordon .... titles
Fiona Latto .... production secretary
Marie Meyrick .... production assistant
Peter Sainsbury .... head of production
Peter Greenaway .... hand double: Anthony Higgins (uncredited)
Len Anderson .... special thanks
Rita Anderson .... special thanks
Debbie Arnold .... special thanks
Janice Chaney .... special thanks
Melvin Chaney .... special thanks
Nigel Coates .... special thanks
Nick Coker .... special thanks
James Hall .... special thanks
Graham Howes .... special thanks
Johannes Jacobus .... special thanks
Nigel Jenkins .... special thanks
Dominic Meyrick .... special thanks
Mr. S.W. Mountain .... special thanks (as Mr SW Mountain)
Mrs. R. Newton .... special thanks (as Mrs R Newton)
Dudley Tate .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
108 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:16 | Australia:M | Australia:MA (DVD rating) | Finland:K-16 | Germany:16 | Iceland:16 | Italy:VM14 | Portugal:M/12 (Qualidade) | South Korea:18 | Spain:13 | Sweden:11 | UK:AA (original rating) | UK:15 (tv rating) | UK:15 (video rating) (1986) (1994) | USA:R

Did You Know?

The original cut of the film ran for three hours and was cut down to 103 minutes. Its original opening sequence ran for thirty minutes and this got edited down to ten minutes.See more »
Anachronisms: 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 »
Movie Connections:
Eye For Optical TheorySee more »


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79 out of 84 people found the following review useful.
An eye for optical theory, 17 April 2001
Author: (TOM.BALL@ED.AC.UK) from Edinburgh, Scotland

In this much criticised and often misunderstood movie, Greenaway brings us a rich, allegorical riddle that luxuriates in its idyllic restoration setting. It succeeds on its own merits even if the story may confuse the viewer at first, the sheer pun and wit of the script and extravagant use of costume and visual gag see to that. We have enormous wigs, living statues that really pee, an indulgence of fruit, erotic interludes and a general celebration of pleasure. Behind this is a brilliantly constructed story that can be appreciated on a number of different levels. We have an 'Agatha Christie' style country house murder mystery, an investigation of class and religious opposition at the end of the 17th century, a philosphical study of the problem of artists' perception of the world (is what we 'see' what we actually perceive it to be?).

At root though, Greenaway knows his mythology and understands the role of the fertility rite across societies and cultures. In this allegory, Mrs Herbert persuades the Draughtsman (Mr. Neville) to draw her husband's estate, sexual favours being the lure. The drawings are merely a front for a deeper and darker motive: ensuring that the matrimonial line will produce the heir to the country estate. The line is blocked by lack of a direct heir, the infertility of Mrs. Herbert's son in law and the fact that women cannot inherit the property. Evidence of Mr Neville's indiscretion eventually emerges in the 12 drawings for all to see -discarded clothing, ladders leading up to bedrooms- all rendered faithfully by the draughtsman who tries 'never to distort, nor dissemble' what he sees through his optical device. In so doing, he seals his fate. Mrs Herbert ensures that blame for both the death of her husband and adultery of her daughter is put on Neville. By the end of the movie he (and his drawings) are redundant, since we can assume he has borne the heir.

In ancient Greece, the Gods ruled the seasons and the fertility of the land. Here, Mrs Herbert draws the link between those times and her role as the real custodian of the 'fertility' of her husband's estate. Watch for the scene near the end when she places the pomegranate on Neville's stomach. The women are in control throughout, the men mere bit players, the drones and worker bees. Watch and listen with care! This is a film that repays many viewings. 'There is much there to be surprised at, and applauded!!'.

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