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 reveal 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.
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Peter Greenaway is a cunning , unrepentant re-arranger of reality. His films are living paintings. He is an utterly fearless surrealist, with a limitless vocabulary of images and sounds. In a headlong "operatic", luxurious, rococo parade of tableaux. I could compare Greenaway to other obviously ingenious directors, but he stands alone. I obviously appreciate his work. He is not trying to break any "box office" records, that's no secret, and that's the secret of his appeal.
I didn't see it long enough
A costume drama setting for an intruiging mystery plot. Has the origins of many of the unique panoramic visuals which we now consider emblematic of Greenaway.
Peter Greenaway is a favorite of mine. His painterly films are always over-the-top and indescribably disturbing even in their well-meaningful pose. This one is a great introduction and a weird trip from beginning to end.