DiS Film Discussion Club #5: The Draughtsman's Contract (1982)

How come you didn’t ?

(Not a confrontational question, just interested)

I have enough deadlines to watch films and have opinions about them as it is pal

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super pick.
if I remember, film makes that baroque music sound very sinister.

Ive just finished watching it. Before going into thoughts, how do we deal with spoilers here? Can we assume that people have watched it so we can talk without blurring?

I’ll just blur stuff for now

So I think overall I enjoyed it but not as much as I anticipated. When it first started, I thought the costumes were going to remind me too much of the Lance Corporal Boiled Egg sketch from Shooting Stars but you quickly move past it.

I think my issue with it is the director’s intention really and that the centralplot point isn’t actually the main focus of the film. [spoiler]the film is more of a character study of this family with a murder in the background, and I would’ve preferred for the murder to be more delved into. I saw a thing that Greenaway originally made it 3 hours long with the first half hour all the characters interacting with each other which would’ve been so taxing. I think the film is too long as it is, there are a lot of extended conversations I could’ve done without.

I do like the idea of the uncovering of a murder from clues within the Draughtsman’s (who paints as he sees) work, as well as a subplot of the daughter’s infidelities being discovered by her husband from parts in the paintings. I’d like to see a film which explores that mechanism more.

Although the murder is never solved, you can tell who has orchestrated it and why, so that didn’t both me whereas I usually get quite frustrated when stuff is left open. Also feel the ending was oddly rushed [/spoiler]

I think of the Greenaway’s I have seen so far, it’s probably my least favourite but I still enjoyed it. I think it’s going to be one where I think back on and view it more favourably than I’m thinking now, it’s one to digest rather than take immediate gratification

is Nyman a genius or what?


I tried my best but I could not get into this. Managed 20 minutes on saturday night then tried again last night and got 50 minutes in before I had to stop it. I knew I’d have a hard time with the setting but I couldn’t get past it. Whenever I struggle with a film like that I need at least one character to identify with to help me through it and I couldn’t find anything here either. I can’t really point at anything that makes the film ‘bad’ as such, it’s just not my thing.

A common criticism/appreciation of Greenaway is that his characters often seem emotionally distant, and the wide shots with lack of face close ups reinforce this.

With Greenaway also being a painter his films put plot and character development (Helen Mirren’s character in The Cook, The Thief being the exception that proves the rule) second to the visual element and scene composition. Probably one of those directors where it helps to know their modus operandi before watching one of their films.


heads up- another greenaway, ‘drowning by numbers’ from 1988 is on film4 tonight/ tomorrow morning 1:30am. don’t think I’ve seen it

Watched this last night. Didnt wanna post about it straight away and gush about it too much but still today feel like it’s just a thoroughly amazing film. Was proper belly laughing at shakespeare’s tongue moments that I didnt even really fully get.

The imagery is amazing, the score is amazing. My only regret is that it’s still only available in really fuzzy dvd/video scan quality. Reckon it would really lend itself to obsessively pawing (poring?) over details in every scene but you cant really do that in its current print.

It also actually really made me mourn for a time when we had an actual film industry in the UK outside of the harry potter kind of cut-price studio blockbuster. To think that once upon a time people would go and see films by peter greenaway and derek jarman and whoever else. We’ve become a nation of total bores (alright, morrissey).


If anyone has a spare three hours I really recommend Greenaway’s early work The Falls. An apparently straight documentary about the outcome of the Violent Unexplained Event formed of interviews with people who were changed by it. Good songs too.

If you can,record or watch it. My favourite of his

A lot of his films are quite difficult to find (not sure if that’s the case still)

Still find it funny that he has to go to other European countries to fund his films now with all the garbage that comes out of the Uk film industry

Probably my favourite British film maker of the past 40 years


i’ve been suckered into buying a couple of his films on “bluray” and i downloaded an “HD” rip of this to watch but they’re just the same terrible scans that have been around for ages. it’s really criminal that there’s so little interest in them that this is the treatment they get.

top three greenaways? reckon this, cook thief wife lover and drowning by numbers for me. the obvious choices but he’s so good when he’s being “accessible”

Yeah I think he’s best when he’s accessible, some of his other work can be a bit wanky

Bored so will rate the ones I’ve seen in order

The cook, the thief…
Draughtsmans Contract
A zed and two noughts
Belly of an architect
Drowning by numbers
8 1/2 women
Baby of Macon
Eisenstein in Guanajanto
Prospero’s Books
The Pillow Book

Think I’ve seen a few of his early shorts but can’t remember too much about them

Sometimes I feel like I hate his style of filmmaking but a lot of the time I think he’s a bit of a genius

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which is the one with ewan mcgregor? is that the pillow book? coz that one was fucking dreadful. i don’t think i’ve ever seen Z00, i should check that.

Yeah Ewan Mcgregor, fuck that guy

Zoo is up there with his best

Greenaway/Nyman/Vierny dream team

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Thinking about the plot now it sounds kinda good but yeah, it was pretty bad

McGregor is alright!

I really liked it. thought the archness and manneredness of it worked really well as did all the shots (mostly interior) that seemed like there were attempting to recreate the style of contemporary paintings or whatever. really liked how 50% of the dialogue seemed to be barbed insults

kept thinking of this
might start dressing like a 17th century toff

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