Derik Badman's Journal

2019-11-18 17:38

The Criterion Channel added a bunch of Peter Greenaway films this month. I haven't watched any of his films for a long time, so I watched The Draughtsman's Contract yesterday. It's a highly ambiguous film. Perhaps if I watched it again it might be less so, but I feel like it is purposefully left allusive. Even the basic plot is hard to easily summarize. In late 17th century England, an artist is hired (convinced) by a lady to make 12 drawings of the outside of her manor while her husband is away, ostensibly as a present for him. The contract stipulates money and sexual favors from the wife (she's the one that adds that element). After he's made the first 6 drawings, the lady's daughter points out to him how articles of her father's clothes and other clues in the drawings point to the murder of the lord. She then hires/convinces the artist to let her put items in his last 6 drawings in exchange for sexual favors. Her argument seems to be that he will be implicated in the murder of her father somehow. The father is found dead in the moat. Later the artist returns to the house and is murdered by the daughter's husband and other men, blamed for the father's murder or maybe just the affair with the daughter.

It's not clear in the movie how much it is all a plot by the mother or the daughter, but it certainly points that way. The mother is unhappy with the father. The daughter's husband seems unable to give her an heir (who would inherit the property from the father). It seems likely that the daughter arranged the whole thing. It's an unusual movie, featuring some interesting drawings, but the extravagant costumes and wigs are pretty annoying. I guess I really don't have much to say about it.