The Draughtsman's Contract (1982)
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A unique vision of a film. Beautifully rendered and masterfully executed. I'm rather in awe of this film.
Though I'd seen The Draughtsman's Contract back in college when I was discovering art-house director Peter Greenaway, his first feature didn't at the time strike me as one of his most interesting. I mostly bought it to see if Zeitgeist Video's re-releases would be worthwhile. The answer to that is yes, at least. I also liked the film better this time around. The story: An 18th-century artist agrees to draw a wealthy household in exchange for sexual favors from the lady of the house, and he gets embroiled in a murder mystery for which he may end up the patsy. The look of the film is very stiff because Greenaway was applying a painterly approach, and the witty dialogue seems pulled from Restoration drama/comedy. So I understand the barriers that made my 20-year-old self lose interest. Historically interesting because Greenaway's usual theme of an artist being consumed by his art can be found in the rest of work, Contract also provides an unusual mystery, but not a pat solution. It's there in the clues, but there's no scene where all is explained.
A good movie, unpredictable. A sophisticated movie that requires its man/woman to be able to concentrate on the whole movie - for it is basically constant dialogue. Good direction, good script. Nice movie-cover and nice digital menu (as if the cartoonist wrote the menu). The film is known for each scene being framed like a painting. The film digs deeper and deeper into the mystery, and not necessarily against one or more explanations...
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In 8 official lists
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This movie ranks #80 in BFI 100
This movie ranks #257 in Harvard University's Suggested Film Viewing List: Narrative Films (2012)
This movie ranks #273 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #274 in TimeOut's 1000 Films to Change Your Life
This movie ranks #445 in Doubling the Canon
This movie ranks #473 in 500 Essential Cult Movies
This movie ranks #692 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #850 in Have You Seen? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films