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Drowning by Numbers

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Genre  Comedy, Drama
Music director  Michael Nyman
Writer  Peter Greenaway
Language  English
7.3/10 IMDb

Director  Peter Greenaway
Initial DVD release  February 26, 1992
Country  United Kingdom Netherlands
Drowning by Numbers movie poster
Release date  10 September 1988
Cast  Joan Plowright (Cissie Colpitts 1), Juliet Stevenson (Cissie Colpitts 2), Joely Richardson (Cissie Colpitts 3), Bernard Hill (Madgett), Jason Edwards (Smut), Bryan Pringle (Jake)
Similar movies  Related Peter Greenaway movies

Peter greenaway drowning by numbers opening

Drowning by Numbers is a 1988 British-Dutch film directed by Peter Greenaway. It won the award for Best Artistic Contribution at the Cannes Film Festival of 1988.


Drowning by Numbers movie scenes

Drowning by numbers trailer


Drowning by Numbers movie scenes

The film's plot centres on three married women — a grandmother, her daughter, and her niece — each named Cissie Colpitts. As the story progresses, each woman successively drowns her husband. The three Cissie Colpittses are played by Joan Plowright, Juliet Stevenson and Joely Richardson, while Bernard Hill plays the coroner, Madgett, who is cajoled into covering up the three crimes.

Drowning by Numbers movie scenes

The structure, with similar stories repeated three times, is reminiscent of a fairy tale, most specifically 'The Billy Goats Gruff', because Madgett is constantly promised greater rewards as he tries his luck with each of the Cissies in turn. The link to folklore is further established by Madgett's son Smut, who recites the rules of various unusual games played by the characters as if they were ancient traditions. Many of these games are invented for the film, including:

Drowning by Numbers staticrogerebertcomuploadsmoviemovieposterd
  • Bees in the Trees
  • Dawn Card Castles
  • Deadman's Catch
  • Flights of Fancy (or Reverse Strip Jump)
  • The Great Death Game
  • Hangman's Cricket
  • The Hare and Hounds
  • Sheep and Tides

  • Drowning by Numbers Drowning by Numbers Trailer YouTube

    In Drowning by Numbers, number-counting, the rules of games and the repetitions of the plot are all devices which emphasise structure and symmetry. Through the course of the film each of the numbers 1 to 100 appear, the large majority in sequence, often seen in the background, sometimes spoken by the characters.

    Drowning by Numbers by Numbers

    The film is set and was shot in and around Southwold, Suffolk, England, with key landmarks such as the Victorian water tower, Southwold Lighthouse, and the estuary of the River Blyth clearly identifiable.


    Drowning by Numbers Drowning by Numbers Michael Nyman Songs Reviews Credits AllMusic
  • Joan Plowright - Cissie Colpitts
  • Juliet Stevenson - Cissie Colpitts
  • Joely Richardson - Cissie Colpitts
  • Bernard Hill - Madgett
  • Jason Edwards - Smut
  • Bryan Pringle - Jake
  • Trevor Cooper - Hardy
  • David Morrissey - Bellamy
  • John Rogan - Gregory
  • Paul Mooney - Teigan
  • Jane Gurnett - Nancy
  • Kenny Ireland - Jonah Bognor
  • Michael Percival - Moses Bognor
  • Joanna Dickens - Mrs. Hardy
  • Janine Duvitski - Marina Bellamy
  • Music

    Drowning by Numbers Drowning by Numbers 1988 YIFY Download Movie TORRENT YTS

    On Greenaway's specific instructions, the film's musical score by Michael Nyman is entirely based on themes from the slow movement of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in E flat, bars 58 to 61 of which are heard in their original form immediately after each drowning. Greenaway alerted Nyman to the potential of this piece in the late 1970s and had previously used it as material for part of the score of his The Falls and for "The Masterwork" Award Winning Fish-Knife and Tristram Shandy. "Trysting Fields" is the most complicated use of the material: every appoggiatura from the movement, and no other material from the piece, is used.

    Drowning by Numbers A Greenaway Week DROWNING BY NUMBERS Roxie

    The album is the tenth by Nyman and the seventh to feature the Michael Nyman Band.

    Track listing

    1. "Trysting Fields"
    2. "Sheep and Tides"
    3. "Great Death Game"
    4. "Drowning by Number 3"
    5. "Wheelbarrow Walk"
    6. "Dead Man's Catch"
    7. "Drowning by Number 2"
    8. "Bees in Trees"
    9. "Fish Beach"
    10. "Wedding Tango"
    11. "Crematorium Conspiracy"
    12. "Knowing the Ropes"
    13. "Endgame"

    The back cover of the album booklet has a large number "58". Fred Ritzel has pointed out that the Skipping Girl (played by Natalie Morse) reaches number 58 in her counting game. These are subtle ways of drawing attention to the key bars of the Mozart piece.


    Reviews for Drowning by Numbers were mostly favorable, with the film garnering a 91% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert, however, gave the work two stars, praising its landscapes as beautifully photographed but also concluding, "When the movie was over, I was not sure why Greenaway made it."

    In popular culture

  • Olivier Gillet, designer of the Mutable Instruments range of electronic musical instruments and synthesiser modules, named alternative firmware for his Tides synthesiser module Sheep, in reference to the game featured in the film. Subsequently, alternative firmware called Bees-in-the-Trees, for the Mutable Instrument Braids synthesiser module, and Dead Man's Catch, for the Mutable Instrument Peaks module, have been published.
  • Ambient electronic musician Yuri Tománek, based in Adelaide, Australia, releases recordings under the name Drowning by Numbers.
  • The How I Met Your Mother episode "Bad News" uses a numbering device inspired by the film, with the numbers counting down to the titular "Bad News," when character Marshall learns that his father has died.
  • References

    Drowning by Numbers Wikipedia
    Drowning by Numbers IMDbDrowning by Numbers Rotten TomatoesDrowning by Numbers

    Similar Topics
    Bernard Hill
    Bryan Pringle
    Joan Plowright