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The Draughtsman's Contract (1982)

A young artist is commissioned by the wife of a wealthy landowner to make a series of drawings of the estate while her husband is away.

Director:

Peter Greenaway

Writer:

Peter Greenaway
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1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Anthony Higgins ... R Neville / Mr Neville
Janet Suzman ... Virginia Herbert / Mrs Herbert
Anne-Louise Lambert ... Mrs. Talmann / Mrs. Herbert's daughter (as Anne Louise Lambert)
Hugh Fraser ... Mr Talmann / Mrs. Herbert's son-in-law
Neil Cunningham Neil Cunningham ... Thomas Noyes / Mr Noyes
Dave Hill ... Mr Herbert / Mrs Herbert's husband
David Gant ... Mr Seymour
David Meyer David Meyer ... The Poulencs
Tony Meyer 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 G. Cumming ... Philip / Mr Neville's assistant (as Alastair Cumming)
Steve Ubels 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:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The camera moves only a few times during tracking shots; otherwise, every shot is still. 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.
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Alternate Versions

When Peter Greenaway screened the movie at festivals in 1982, it ran a full three hours. Included in this footage is a full and further explained rationale for the moving statue. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Chasing Sheep Is Best Left To Shepherds
(uncredited)
Written by Michael Nyman
Performed by Nyman Band
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User Reviews

 
Master's Smile
20 January 2005 | by Galina_movie_fanSee all my reviews

The first Peter Greenaway's feature "The Draughtsman's Contract" (1982) - is absolutely delightful, devilishly clever (just imagine the best Agatha Christy's mystery with all sorts of clues and suspects but without Poirot or Ms. Maple to explain in the end whodunit and why. You are on your own to try to figure out - everything you need to know is right there), and funny (Yes, Greenaway can be funny!) art film - the perfect example of an art film. It combines the elements of social satire with murder mystery, meditates on the power of art and role of an artist, studies family drama and mothers – daughters love and understanding, perfectly wraps it in sensual pleasure - and what the pleasure it is. I know I will watch it again because it is a feast for eyes (I've seen big budget movies that looked plain comparing to this one shot on the limited funds), ears (Michael Nyman wrote one of the best score ever for this film) and for brain - there are mysteries and puzzles in every frame and in every dialog.

There is couple of Greenaway's thoughts on his first film and on the films that influenced him from the interview that was published in L'Avant-Scene Cinema", No 333, October 1984:

"Majority of my films may be viewed on several levels. Thus, in "The Draughtsman's Contract" there was the desire to open the symbolism of plants and fruits, to study the connections between the aristocrats and the common people, the conflicts between the worlds of gentlemen and of servants. With my films, I hope to generate interest, to stimulate imagination, to wake feelings...

I consider that 90% of my films one way or another refers to paintings. "Contract" quite openly refers to Caravaggio, Georges de la Tour and other French and Italian artists...

Before the work on the film began, I did not explain to film crew what I wanted, but I showed them five European films: "Fellini's Casanova", "The Last Tango in Paris" by Bertolucci, "The Marquise of O" by Eric Rohmer, "Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach" by Jean-Marie Straub and, most importantly, "Last Year at Marienbad" by Alain Resnais which has been the most influential film for me."


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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | German | Dutch

Release Date:

12 November 1982 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Draughtsman's Contract See more »

Filming Locations:

UK See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

GBP320,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,256,246

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,256,246
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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