Blu-Ray Review: The Draughtsman’s Contract

Of all the British directors of the last 50 years, Peter Greenaway is arguably the most interesting. A painter by training, he brought this art into every inch of his filmmaking. Every shot feels meticulously composed. Celluloid is his canvas. Using landscape and portrait to ensure that each scene is impeccably constructed. Using nature as his playground. The Draughtsman’s Contract employs all these elements beautifully.

Wiltshire, England at the end of the seventeenth century. A conceited young draughtsman, Mr Neville (Anthony Higgins), is contracted by Mrs Virginia Herbert (Janet Suzman) to create a dozen landscape drawings of her estate. Part of this accord demands that she fulfil her employee’s sexual desires. Mrs Talmann (Anne-Louise Lambert), her married daughter, sees the opportunity to use him for her own needs.

The Draughtsman’s Contract is a Baroque farce which is part murder mystery, part outlandish comedy of manners. Greenaway stuffs his creation full of ornate costumes and exaggerated fashions. It’s a chocolate box of a film, but watch out! – those thorns are sharp. It’s full of barbed comment and flippant drollery. This is all accompanied by Michael Nyman’s elegant soundtrack. Ensuring that The Draughtsman’s contract is a feast for the ears, eyes and mind.

Special features:

  • Presented in High Definition
  • Audio commentary by Peter Greenaway (2003)
  • Introduction by Peter Greenaway (2003, 10 mins): the director discusses the genesis of The Draughtsman’s Contract, his creative choices and the film’s central themes
  • Visions: A Film Comment by Angela Carter (1982, 21 mins): the novelist’s contemporary TV review of The Draughtsman’s Contract
  • The Guardian Interview: Michael Nyman (2002, audio only, 7 mins): the composer discusses his work on The Draughtsman’s Contract
  • The Greenaway Alphabet (2017, 60 mins): Saskia Boddeke’s deeply personal portrait of her husband Peter Greenaway, his art and his relationship with his daughter
  • H is For House (1976, 9 mins): an early short film by Peter Greenaway
  • A Walk Through H (1978, 42 mins): Greenaway’s short depicting the symbolic journey of an ornithologist through a mysterious bird-filled country
  • Insight: Zandra Rhodes (1981, 15 mins): Greenaway’s profile of the fashion designer
  • Interviews with Janet Suzman, Peter Greenaway and Anthony Higgins (1981, 5 mins)
  • Behind the scenes footage (1981, 5 mins)
  • Deleted scenes and outtakes (1981, 11 mins total)
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Restoration trailer (2022)
  • Image gallery
  • ***First pressing only*** Illustrated booklet with a new Director’s Statement and a 2004 essay by Peter Greenaway; essays by Simon Barker, Robert Brown (from Sight and Sound, Winter 81/82) and Charlie Bridgen; notes on the special features and credits

The Draughtsman’s Contract is released on Blu-Ray and BFI Player on 21 November.

Previous Live Review: Mother Mother / Robert Grace - The Inside Tour, 3Olympia Dublin 15.11.2022
Next NEWS: New York's Flossing announces debut UK dates and shares video for Switch

No Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.