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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Must-have movies: The Draughtsman's Contract (1982)



    Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 22/12/2006



    Sheila Johnston reviews a classic that every film-lover will want to own



    Could there be anything more enticing on a cold, dark December night than a sumptuous English country house and its gardens in high, green summer?



    The year is 1694, and a smug draughtsman has been commissioned to draw the estate from 12 different angles at different times of the day. His fee: a modest stipend and 12 sexual favours from Mrs Herbert, the lady of the manor.



    All proceeds as planned, until rogue elements – a ladder propped against a wall, a pair of boots abandoned in a meadow – begin to introduce themselves into the sketches. Are they clues to a crime? When Mr Herbert vanishes under suspicious circumstances, the finger points at the visiting artist.



    Peter Greenaway, the film's writer-director, hailed from a background in documentaries and experimental shorts. His cunning coup here was to apply a surreal sensibility to a thoroughly conventional genre format, the country-house murder mystery. Yet, at the end, The Draughtsman's Contract remains a puzzle wrapped in an enigma, and no clever detective pops up to explain it all.



    Spectacularly original, it seemed to herald a thrilling new filmmaking talent, although, thereafter, as Greenway's work became ever more ambitious it also became more impenetrable.



    Watch The Draughtsman's Contract once as a classy intellectual thriller, and again to savour fully the sensuous imagery, the outrageous wigs and costumes, Michael Nyman's intricate neo-Baroque score, the witty screenplay, erotic sparring and splendid performances of Janet Suzman, Anthony Higgins and others. (Often seen as cold and cerebral, Greenaway invariably enlists the cream of British acting talent to being his ideas alive.)



    Watch it once again for the director's enthusiastic, erudite commentary, as revealing of what he calls his "private fetishes and obsessions", as of his passion for cinema and his knowledge of wig-making, fruit-growing and politics in that long-gone, yet oddly familiar world. It's a minor masterpiece by a consummate English eccentric.

    l

  2. #2
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    Just watched this and plan on watching it atleast one more time.



    Once again we have Anne Louise Lambert in another movie with a haunting, unresolved mystery.



    But it is as this review states, it is just fun to watch to savour fully the sensuous imagery, the outrageous wigs and costumes, Michael Nyman's intricate neo-Baroque score, the witty screenplay, erotic sparring and splendid performances of Janet Suzman, Anthony Higgins and the rest of the cast.



    The living statue alone makes it worth a second viewing.



    And perhaps I'll get a better handle on the mystery as well.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    A truly mesmerising film.

    Nymen wrote a lot of scores for Greenaway

    A zed and two naughts

    Drowning by numbers

    The cook the thief his wife and her lover

    but by far the best score was in The draghtsmans contract with the unforgettable

    "Chasing sheep is better left to shepherds" and

    "An eye for optical theory".

    The acting was n't bad either.

    I first came across Janet Suzman in the series 'Clayhanger' with Harry Andrews and Peter McEnery.

  4. #4
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    I find that Greenaway falls into the category ( like Ken Russell, Derek Jarman and - so far - Shane Meadows ) of directors I like the idea of rather more than the actual films they make i.e they are independent-minded, blessed with flair and imagination and get their films made they way they want, even if the end product leaves something to be desired. The Draughtman's Contract is his best and most satisfying film IMO, mostly for the reasons stated above. I saw it first when it came out with no preconceptions and loved it. Subsequent efforts never quite had the same appeal even though I liked The Cook, The Thief etc. and Drowning By Numbers. But even these occasionally teeter on the brink of Greenaway disappearing up his own fundament which he did quite comprehensively on A Zed and Two Naughts. He doesn't help matters with some very silly pronouncements - there is a thread somewhere to this effect - but warts and all I still admire his technique and imagination.

  5. #5
    Member Country: Germany alexdelarge's Avatar
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    The Draughtman`s contract is my personally "cult movie", as Mr. Henry Purcell is my most
    favorite composer (of course I like Nyman`s variations in this movie).
    Have a look to my pilgrimage to The Draughtman`s Conract`s filming location Groombridge Place:
    http://www.archivaria.de/london/cult/index.htm

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