Wednesday, September 19, 2007


The first movie I saw last night was Peter Greenaway's crisply delineated mystery of ill manners The Draughtsman's Contract (1982),* a movie firmly rooted in a rather earthier seventeenth century than generally provided. Mr. Neville (Anthony Higgins) is a draftsman held in courtly regard among Early Modern powdered wig types during the reign of William and Mary. The film begins at an orderly party where the artist is being petitioned by Mrs. Herbert (Janet Suzman) to render twelve drawings of her estate and surrounding gardens during her husband's upcoming twelve-day holiday. For this she is willing to draw a contract promising eight pounds per completed picture, twelve days room-and-board on the estate, and her own collusion in a certain number of earthy liaisons with Mr. Neville. The artist is game for this arrangement, but cannot reconcile the exact nature of Mrs. Herbert's relationship with her disinterested husband. Mrs. Herbert's daughter (Anne-Louise Lambert), whose husband is merely ineffective, also seems in hot pursuit of her mother's contract. Before the end of the party, the deal is made. The balance of the movie, before an unsatisfying denouement, details Mr. Neville's progress on his daily obligations, narrated by his directions regarding each of the estate's angles; each to be penciled during specific hours of sunlight. But he is becoming frustrated by objects of seeming random distribution that keep appearing in his view. The movie, so far suited to Mr. Neville's aesthetic, here steadily widens to present an angle beyond that of the artist's scope, thereby revealing the extent to which he is being unknowingly maneuvered. As the plot thickens we become aware of a mastermind behind the incongruous objects placed here and there, and thus dutifully recorded in the draftsman's documentation. Certain of this movie's unexpected revelations made my jaw drop. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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