An 'essayistic' documentary in which Greenaway's fierce criticism of today's visual illiteracy is argued by means of a forensic search of Rembrandt's Nightwatch. Greenaway explains the ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
Director Peter Greenaway said of this film in publicity for this picture in the American 'Coming Attractions' magazine: "The camera retains, like the the draughtsman, a steady, uncommitted, observant eye as interested in the texture of fabric, the gloom of candlelight, the wind in the elm trees, as in the demeanor of a corpse or the discomfort of a victim of sexual coercion". 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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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 »
Extraordinary, beautiful, puzzling and disturbing.
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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