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The Draughtsman's Contract (2008)

Anthony Higgins , Anne-Louise Lambert , Peter Greenaway  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Anthony Higgins, Anne-Louise Lambert, Janet Suzman
  • Directors: Peter Greenaway
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Zeitgeist Films
  • DVD Release Date: February 12, 2008
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000Y14U5Q
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,185 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Four Stars. What we have here is a tantalizing puzzle, wrapped in eroticism and presented with the utmost elegance. I have never seen a film quite like it.... His movie is like a crossword puzzle for the senses." --Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times

"The film is mannered and idiosyncratic; the speeches are so arch and twitty they seem to be pitched higher than a dog whistle, and the people talking are popinjays in perukes shaped as geometrically as the shrubs at Marienbad." --Pauline Kael

"Astonishingly elegant... extraordinarily detailed... mind-bendingly rich. The Draughtsman's Contract is fun." --Vincent Canby, The New York Times

Product Description

Set in a richly exaggerated 17th-century England, Peter Greenaway's sumptuous and sensuously charged brainteaser catapulted him to the forefront of international art cinema. Adorned with intricate wordplay, extravagant costumes and opulent photography, Greenaway's first narrative feature weaves a labyrinthine mystery around the maxim "draw what you see, not what you know." An aristocratic wife (Janet Suzman) commissions a young, cocksure draughtsman (Anthony Higgins) to sketch her husband's property while he is away--in exchange for a fee, room and board, and one sexual favor for each of the twelve drawings. As the draughtsman becomes more entrenched in the devious schemings in this seemingly idyllic country home, curious details emerge in his drawings that may implicate a murder.

Bolstered by a majestic score by then-newcomer Michael Nyman and stunning cinematography by Curtis Clark that suggests Greenaway has the elements at his beck and call, The Draughtsman's Contract is a luscious cinematic banquet for eye, ear and mind.

SPECIAL FEATURES
- Restored anamorphic transfer, created from Hi-Def elements
- Peter Greenaway commentary and video introduction
- Four deleted scenes
- Behind-the-scenes footage and on-set interviews
- Interview with composer Michael Nyman
- Restoration demonstration
- Production photo and Draughtsman's sketch galleries
- English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
- Original theatrical trailer
- Essays by Greenaway and cinematographer Curtis Clark

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite movie October 16, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This is the only movie I've seen more than five times. The plot is always fascinating because every explanation I come up with has some flaw, although there seem to be clues everywhere. The arch dialog is delicious, and delivered by the actors with obvious relish. This is the only movie I find myself quoting lines from, simply for the fun of it. The cast is perfect. The music is wonderfully atmospheric. The scenery is luscious. It may require a decadent taste to enjoy this movie, but if you have that, it is the ideal entertainment. I haven't found anything else of Peter Greenaway's watchable. But The Draughtsman's Contract is a masterpiece.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite fascinating October 14, 2000
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This beautifully shot, highly intelligent, somewhat surreal and shockingly unknown film was originally made by Peter Greenaway for the opening night of Channel Four Television in Britain, and represents, perhaps, the man at his peak. The story, which avoids any direct explanations of itself or its plot, centres around a draughtsman (Higgins) who is hired to produce twelve drawings of a stately home in England. While he draws, objects appear in the landscape around him, which he includes in his drawings... when a body finally surfaces, do the drawings contain evidence concerning the identities of its murderers, or has some clever person purposely placed the objects in order to frame someone else... possibly the draughtsman himself? One may watch the film many times, each time coming up with a different answer; the motives and dialogue contradict each other just enough to add to the mystery, but not enough to ruin any possible explanation. The sountrack (by Michael Nyman) is also interesting: the themes within it are based on eight-bar samples of Mozart which are repeated and improvised upon, to hypnotising and evocative effect. A fascinating film.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
This new digital transfer looks quite nice but keep in mind the limitations of the format it was shot in--Super 16mm (most TV shows were shot in 16mm for British TV and this was financed by Channel 4--when watching this new digitally restored transfer of "The Draughtman's Contract". The plan was for a theatrical release and then a TV airing. The budget was quite small. Super 16mm doesn't yield the fine detail of 35mm or 70mm. The transfer is an improvement over the previously available DVD but it also reveals the flaws of the source so the high definition elements can't mask the limitations of Super 16mm.

The real reason to get this though is for the extras. We get a commentary track by director Peter Greenaway as well as an introduction that's almost long enough to be a featurette on the making of the film. We also get deleted scenes, an interview with composer Michael Nyman ("The Piano"--this was one of Nyman's first scores), a restoration demonstration, behind-the-scenes footage and on set interviews and the original theatrical trailer for the film. There is also a booklet with an essay by Greenaway (don't read it until AFTER you have seen the film if this is your first time viewing it)and an interview with Cinematographer Curtis Clark discussing how he and Greenaway decided to use Super 16mm and the challenge of shooting only by candlelight.

"The Draughtman's Contract" won't be for everyone. Director Peter Greenaway deliberately sought to subvert the way a traditional period piece was portrayed in film with this unusual and elliptic mystery. Part social commentary and avant garde period piece. Greenaway has his actors behave in a stiff, formal way often posing as often as performing.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Games for Adults May 12, 2001
Format:DVD
Peter Greenaway may be the last indisputably distinctive Anglophone filmmaker. With "The Draughtsman's Contract," he broke through from relative obscurity as an experimental artist into feature-length narratives. While his subsequent films have been more conservative than his earlier work, he remains a highly original and innovative artist. "Contract" may be his most balanced film, integrating much of his earlier formal experimentation with the demands of narrative.
Greenaway is just about the only well-known filmmaker with an interest in the art and film theory of the past thirty-five years. His is a "meta-cinema," at least as much about the act of making and watching movies as about particular situations. Summarizing the story of "The Draughtsman's Contract," for example, gives only a limited sense of what watching the movie is like. As some of the reviews here have pointed out, you cannot watch "Contract" without noticing the perspective tools used by Mr. Neville. These technologies anticipate the optics used in photography and cinematography. As we are aware of how they contribute to 17th century draftsmanship we (in theory at least) recognize the construction of the very images we are viewing. In short, through these and other techniques, you are too aware of experiencing the film to become engrossed in it.
If you are not comfortable with such distancing, "The Draughtsman's Contract" may not be your cup of tea. On the other hand, there is certainly "much to be applauded" in "The Draughtsman's Contract." As in virtually all of Greenaway's work, the visual design and cinematography are exquisite and all the more remarkable given the film was shot in 16mm.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Early Greenaway
This is a great example of Greeaway's early work. The Sound track is by Michael Nyman. Video is of mixed quality because Greenaway shot much of it on 16mm film but that only adds... Read more
Published 9 days ago by R. V. Clayton
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A+++
Published 1 month ago by John Lodin
2.0 out of 5 stars Bad sound
Bad sound on this copy. Spoiled our enjoyment

The movie does not age well, although it still has its moments.
Published 5 months ago by Exiled warrior
5.0 out of 5 stars Twisted
If you'd like to watch a guy have sex with a mother and daughter, and eventually knock one of them up- subsequentially causing his own murder, then this movie is for you!
Published 7 months ago by Mandolynn_30
4.0 out of 5 stars Best for the Scenery
Best for the Scenery.
Some parts were too long or somewhat repeated. Music was interesting. Scenery was great and trues to story.
Published 12 months ago by Marcoux
4.0 out of 5 stars Probably the most accessable of Greenaway's works
Peter Greenaway's maddening puzzle of a film, The Draughtman's Contract, involves us in a multi-layered, multi-themed murder mystery involving an artist and an entire cast of... Read more
Published on May 8, 2011 by Tristan
1.0 out of 5 stars DVD Zone
I was disappointed to discover that the version was for Zone 1 countries (US & Canada) even though I ordered the DVD via the Australian Amazon site. Read more
Published on November 16, 2009 by Noel R. Stone
4.0 out of 5 stars Vermeer meets Barthes
The Draughtsman's Contract was made near the very height of the post-structuralist semiotic orgy that infected France and Germany and, to a lesser extent, the intellectual circles... Read more
Published on January 29, 2009 by Allan M. Lees
3.0 out of 5 stars A Clever Little Picture
Fairly tame by Greenaway's standards, this costume drama about a man hired to create a series of drawings of an English country estate is neither particularly tedious or grotesque,... Read more
Published on January 7, 2009 by William McNeill
5.0 out of 5 stars "Your significance, Mr. Neville, is attributable to both innocence and...
We're in post Restoration England in 1694, and at a country estate filled with condescending, witty, superficial creatures dressed in heavy satins and lace, with chalk dusted... Read more
Published on July 19, 2008 by C. O. DeRiemer
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