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105 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars requires a real Eye for Optical Theory...
The Draughtsman's Contract is one of the great British films... a wonderful fusion of baroque 17th century mystery, with pop art sensibilities and a plethora of arcane references to neo-classical literature & art. All of Greenaway's principal trademarks are here, with infidelity, jealousy, revenge and vulgarity acting as the lynchpins of the multi-layered narrative...
Published on 28 Mar 2004 by Jonathan James Romley

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars poor quality DVD - German dubbing is missing!
If you buy this DVD be aware that there is no german dubbing on the DVD as mentioned in the description. Language: English; French! Optional French or Dutch subtitles!

If you want to watch the DVD on HD_TV do not buy because the quality is poor - even if you have upscaling to 4k! The picture will be pixelated the larger your TV screen is.

The ratio...
Published 1 month ago by Watanabe


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105 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars requires a real Eye for Optical Theory..., 28 Mar 2004
This review is from: The Draughtsman's Contract [1982] [DVD] (DVD)
The Draughtsman's Contract is one of the great British films... a wonderful fusion of baroque 17th century mystery, with pop art sensibilities and a plethora of arcane references to neo-classical literature & art. All of Greenaway's principal trademarks are here, with infidelity, jealousy, revenge and vulgarity acting as the lynchpins of the multi-layered narrative... whilst the lushness of the design and the ornate perfectionism of the mise-en-scene certainly acts as a foundation for later works such as the Cook the Thief his Wife & her Lover, and the more similar parable, 8 Women. It is a film rich in intricate details that make it impossible to forget; with the filmmaker creating a multi-faceted story which encompasses everything from high-tragedy to high camp - sort of Barry Lyndon meets Blackadder - whilst also playing with the notions of self-reference... both in terms of the knowing dialog and in the intricate visual design (Greenaway filling the screen with windows within windows leading in and out of worlds within worlds).
The plot is always unfolding, often subtly, with Greenaway never signposting events; always confident with the subjective power of the film to let his camera drift over the lush-vistas of the English countryside as Michael Nyman's grandiose-Purcell-influenced score resonates beyond the cinematic framework, to give the film an even greater sense of playfulness and frivolity. The acting is fairly standard, though this has never been a great concern for Greenaway, who instead is more interested in playing witty and arcane cinematic tricks with the audience, such as layering clues to the mystery within swathes of seemingly banal dialog and the almost two-dimensional compositions (created to mirror the sketches created by the titular draughtsman). This was a real turning point in Greenaway's career as a filmmaker, as it is his first example of a narrative film, after years of short, conceptual doodlings (c.f. Dear Phone, A Walk Through H, and Water Wrackets), and is a definite precursor to future classics like A Zed & Two Noughts, Drowning By Numbers and The Cook The Thief His Wife and Her Lover.
The disk, released by the BFI, is lovingly created... with a real sense of input from the usually reserved Greenaway. Here we find an extensive director's commentary in which the filmmaker discusses the intellectual complexities of the script, his varying inspirations, and the various narrative layers, as well as the process of shooting his first film in general. There are also archive-deleted scenes, a filmed introduction with Greenaway in the style of Prospero's Books, an interview with Michael Nyman, details of the re-mastering process and a collection of hidden-features. The screen transfer, in it's original 1:66.1 aspect ratio, and the crystal clear sound gives the film a whole new lease of life, allowing us to appreciate Greenaway's evocative framing and subtle use of sound-design all the more. Some have argued that the Draughtsman's Contract - like the majority of Greenaway's back-catalogue - is an elitist film, the type of which can only be enjoyed on a purely artistic level. I would disagree.
The Draughtsman's Contract is one of THE great British films: funny, witty and deeply interesting... in a way that future Greenaway films (or most other UK films for that matter) could only dream of.
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The masterpiece of a flawed genius, 17 Mar 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Draughtsman's Contract [1982] [DVD] (DVD)
The current obsession for non-stop action films with music video style editing, bland dialogue, by-the-numbers soundtracks, actors whose salaries are in inverse proportion to their talent and formulaic cinematography makes it is hard to believe how different cinema was back in 1982 when "The Draughtsman's Contract" hit the big screen.
It was a superb cinematic event then and the recent release of a digitally enhanced DVD marvelously re-captures the feeling. An excellent, informative director's commentary is the highlight of the DVD extras.
What makes it a great film? Firstly every component part, every individual involved, is out of the top drawer or at the peak of their powers. The atmosphere is extraordinary. Never has the English landscape played a greater role. Never has dialogue been more carefully crafted to create the mood of the time. Never has a painter's skill been so well brought to the creation of cinematic images. And the Michael Nyman soundtrack, a marvelous creation echoing Henry Purcell is, for me, unsurpassed - even by Morricone's haunting "Mission". It is a film to be watched with all your faculties concentrating fully and your efforts will be rewarded.
What's it about? In 1694 a confident young draughtsman of some talent eventually agrees to draw ten pictures of a country house for the wife of its owner in exchange for eight pounds a drawing, bed and board for himself and his servant, and ten private liaisons with the wife for sex. He is amazed when his terms are accepted as he made them extortionate not really wanting the commission. From that introduction Greenaway leads us - via beautiful lighting, exquisite camerawork, outstanding dialogue and excellent performances from an underrated cast - to intrigue, murder, politics, religion, pomegranates and a shocking denoument.
Watch it as a murder mystery, and it is very good - obscure clues and red herrings. Watch it as a perfect cinematic portrayal of an english country house at a turning point in English history as its images will delight you. Watch and marvel at how long Greenaway's scenes can be without a single movement of the camera. But above all WATCH IT.
I admire several other Greenaway films, particularly Belly of an Architect and Drowning by Numbers, (though not The Cook, The Thief, etc.) but none compares with this.
If you read my review Mr. Greenaway, thanks for an absolute masterpiece which I finally own - after a "J R Hartley-esque" search for several years. But tell me, is there really a four hour version somewhere? Now I don't suppose I could have sight...
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite - excellent DVD-But not to all tastes, 4 Mar 2004
By 
Withnail67 (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Draughtsman's Contract [1982] [DVD] (DVD)
I have to reveal a long standing infatuation with Greenaway's films. I love their style, their painterly cinematography, their wit and inventiveness. I acknowledge that some find these attributes excluding and isolating...Alan Parker famously threatened to leave Britain if Greenaway made any more films....Looking at a film like 'The Bay of Macon' I can almost sympathise, but with 'Belly of an Architect' and 'Drowning by Numbers' yet to be made, I'm glad Greenaway capitalised on the success of The Draughtsman's Contract'.
The film is many things - primarily a murder mystery set in a country house in 17th century Wilshire, with all the twists and red herrings of the genre - but it is also a meditation on Baroque art, on the act of seeing, on the emergence of Protestant capitalism in England. It's also erotic, funny, stilted, fluid and symmetrical....a film of contradictions and delights.
The DVD by the BFI is excellent, a superbly re-digitised version of the film supported by interviews with the cast and Greenaway from 1981 and the present day. His commentary on this allusive and elusive film is especially useful.
I adore this film - but I think that Greenaway's idiosyncratic style would debar it from five stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greenaway's best, 9 July 2013
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This review is from: The Draughtsman's Contract [1982] [DVD] (DVD)
Probably Greenway's most accessible film. sadly the BFI have no plans to release it on blu ray, so the DVD is the best you will get for a while. a great film. good release from the BFI
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this film..., 3 April 2013
By 
L Iota "Liotta" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Draughtsman's Contract [1982] [DVD] (DVD)
Already have a copy of this terrific film on DVD, but I bought this edition too, because of the Commentary, interviews and introduction from Greenaway.
The deleted scenes weren't that illuminating, and it's a shame it didn't include some of the extra footage from the original 3-hour cut, especially the early scenes.. now that would have been great.
Nevertheless really pleased to have the bit of extra insight into the background and making of the film, including the casting choices.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A film to teach film students, 4 Jun 2002
A couple of years ago I studied film. This film was the first we saw. It is the perfect example to show a script, lighting, costumes, the music, the acting, the art direction and of course th direction itself.
The film uses lighting used for the period: candles, hundreds of the things. So perfectly used that they light ever room to show the surreal life of the film.
This, to me, is the ultimate Greenaway film. Like The Cook, The Thief, his Wife and her Lover, Greenaway brings a fantasy like splendor to the viewer, that only he could bring.
The film is about a lady who pays a draughtman to draw 12 sketches of her husbands estate, whilst he is away.
Sounds simple enough, but there is a twist to the story line which is hard to understand even when the film has finished. But is that not an appeal?
If you are looking for a "quirky", different, well made and fanastic film to watch...then this is it.
You won't be disappointed. I promise
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars English Masterpiece, 9 Mar 2004
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This review is from: The Draughtsman's Contract [1982] [DVD] (DVD)
When it was released in 1982 The Draughtsman's Contract was unique - still is. Oh yeah, there was Kubrick's staid adaptation of Barry Lyndon with its sui generis lighting and slow, slovenly pace much admired by Scorcese, but Greenaway's film was considerably different. There was no reverend text to follow, nor was this a film about Kings and Queens playing bedroom gambits or being liberal with the choppping block (see Carry on Henry). This was utterly original. The sense of place and time are remarkable. The use of landscape (so few British films have any use for the English countryside) is extraordinary. The music is a revelation. The acting is top - Anthony Higgins gives a performance not unlike Nyman's music, all swagger and irony. The dialogue, whilst arch and puffy in places, is even quotable. Did I mention the photography, the costumes: fantastic.
The DVD restoration work is exemplary - have the black areas on this film ever been so black! The extras are interesting, though not exhaustive. And from what I've heard of the commentary, it is, unlike so many easy-money wordless hour and a halfs (no, not halves, think about it), delivered by a director that not only adds to what he's talking about, but begins to become interesting in his own right.
So, okay, Greenaway dropped the ball pretty quickly, but he never scampered into novel writing (Parker, you fraud!) and he had the vision to praise Blue Velvet on TV in the mid-eighties whilst everyone was whining that it was a bit much (So you liked A Room with a View and Letter to Breshnez did you?).
I adore this film and have no trouble with its idiosyncrasies; in fact, I would be amazed to find a film I adored in which I did not find any idiosyncrasies, and so I award this the maximum five stars. This is not a film for everyone, but then, you are not everyone.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All the ingredients of a Greenaway film., 12 July 2000
By A Customer
This film is quirky, but I loved watching it. The costumes are lavish, the house featured in the film is grand and the story odd, but compelling to watch. The accompanying music by Nyman suits the film perfectly. This film certainly has the "Greenaway" feel to it; always a lot going on under the surface. The scenery in and around the house is stunning, especially the gardens. Altogether very enjoyable, especially if you like Peter Greenaway's other films.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Your significance, Mr. Neville, is attributable to both innocence and arrogance in equal parts." He understands this too late, 19 July 2008
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Draughtsman's Contract [1982] [DVD] (DVD)
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 cheeks, painted cupid lips and beauty spots, and wearing magnificent high wigs with cascading curls down to the waist...and that's just the men.

In their midst is Mr. Neville (Anthony Higgins), a talented, successful and arrogant artist whose father, we learn later, was a tenant farmer. He is engaged by the lady of the estate, Mrs. Herbert (Janet Suzman) to draw 12 views of the estate as a present for her clod of a husband, who will be away on business for the next 15 days. Mr. Neville declines. The unhappily married Mrs. Herbert increases his fee. Mr. Neville again declines. Mrs. Herbert offers him her intimate pleasure along with the fee. At that, Mr. Neville agrees. A contract is prepared which spells out Mr. Neville's exact requirements for the 12 views and Mrs. Herbert's contractual obligation for his pleasure. In the course of these two weeks the detailed views will be drawn, pleasure will be taken, Mrs. Herbert's daughter, Mrs. Tallman, will offer a contract of her own and we will learn a bit about heirs and impotency. The absent Mr. Herbert will return, but as a corpse discovered in the estate's moat.

I have no doubt that Peter Greenaway knew exactly what he was doing with The Draughtsman's Contract. Me? I know what I think happened...probably. I like this movie immensely. Discussing the meaning behind Greenaway's films like The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, or Prospero's Books or The Draughtsman's Contract, is almost a small industry among film students and certain cineastes. A good place to start this sort of discussion, however, is not with "Greenaway was aiming at this..." but with "I think Greenaway was aiming at this..." That "I" language makes the speaker own his or her opinions, and almost invariably decreases the "Izzat so?" quotient. That's a positive. What I know is that I think The Draughtsman's Contract is a mannered, magnificent puzzle of a film, where everyone speaks in complete sentences. It's stuffed full of elegance, precision, disconcerting oddness, uncomfortable relationships, hidden motives, ego, style, art, sex, eye burning, murder and ambiguity. When this is all stirred together with Greenaway's imagination and ability to create disconcerting and beautiful visions, what more could a person want? Well, perhaps a story that moves from plot point to plot point, all clear and tidy, and with an ending that leaves us satisfied and happy. If that's so, then Greenaway is not for you. Better stick with Michael Shayne, Private Detective (another movie I like a lot).

"Your significance, Mr. Neville," says one important character, "is attributable to both innocence and arrogance in equal parts." His arrogance doesn't allow more than contempt for those privileged, condescending, shallow people he now is surrounded by during these two weeks. His innocence keeps him from considering the possibilities of what he sees but doesn't see. He is a man whose lovemaking is brutally self-centered and as mannered as his conversation, with his conversation continuing during his lovemaking, "You must forgive my curiosity, madam, and open your knees." Even so, we begin to feel a little uncomfortable for him. Almost as important to the plot is that Mr. Neville draws exactly what he sees. But what does he see? A window that is open when it should be closed? A ladder against a wall? A jacket on a bush when there had been a sheet? A pair of riding boots? It all has a point, but some of it is pure Greenaway. What is, after all, the point of the countertenor...or of the naked statue who is not a statue...or, for that matter, of the 13th drawing? How sure are we of the significance of the three pomegranates...or the last scene where we witness a slobbering bite of pineapple? I don't know, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Janet Suzman and Anthony Higgins carry us along in great style. Almost as important are Anne-Louise Lambert as Mrs. Tallman, Mrs. Herbert's daughter, and Hugh Fraser as Mr. Tallman. The movie is gorgeous to look at, painterly in its compositions and without, in my opinion, a dull moment. All that clever, mannered dialogue sounds straight from a Restoration melodrama. The Draughtsman's Contract is a wonderful movie.
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1.0 out of 5 stars poor quality DVD - German dubbing is missing!, 24 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Draughtsman's Contract [1982] [DVD] (DVD)
If you buy this DVD be aware that there is no german dubbing on the DVD as mentioned in the description. Language: English; French! Optional French or Dutch subtitles!

If you want to watch the DVD on HD_TV do not buy because the quality is poor - even if you have upscaling to 4k! The picture will be pixelated the larger your TV screen is.

The ratio of 1.66:1 in 16x9 anamorphic looks terrible on 16:9 screen because it cuts off the ends of the picture on any side!

What a violent act to Mr. Greenaway!
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The Draughtsman's Contract [1982] [DVD]
The Draughtsman's Contract [1982] [DVD] by Peter Greenaway (DVD - 2004)
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