Drowning by Numbers

Drowning by Numbers

Director: Peter Greenaway Cast: Bernard Hill, Joan Plowright, Juliet Stevenson


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Peter Greenaway wrote and directed this typically surreal and iconoclastic black comedy. Three generations of women who share the same name -- 63-year-old Cissie Colpitts (Joan Plowright), her daughter Cissie Colpitts II (Juliet Stevenson), and granddaughter Cissie Colpitts III (Joely Richardson) -- have all discovered the same way of dealing with their marital problems. The senior Cissie has drowned her husband Jake (Bryan Pringle) in the bathtub, her daughter sent her spouse Hardy (Trevor Cooper) to a watery grave in the ocean, and the youngest Cissie sent her husband Bellamy (David Morrissey) down in a swimming pool. Needless to say, local coroner Henry Madgett (Barnard Hill) has some questions about this sudden rash of drownings among the Colpitts husbands, and again all three women respond in the same way: they promise to sleep with Henry in exchange for recording the deaths as accidental (though none of the Cissies make good on this promise). When the local gossip mill begins working overtime about this sudden rash of water-related deaths, Henry's teenage son Smut (Jason Edwards) comes to the aid of the Cissies and organizes a tug-of-war, with he and the Colpitts women on one side and the doubting townspeople on the other (and, of course, a river in the middle). Along the way, Greenaway often stops to contemplate his obsessions with literature, astronomy, and numbers. Drowning by Numbers was released in Europe in 1988, but didn't find its way to American screens until 1991, following the success of Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/24/2015
UPC: 0759731415828
Original Release: 1988
Rating: R
Source: Henstooth Video
Time: 1:59:00
Sales rank: 22,759

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bernard Hill Henry Madgett
Joan Plowright 1st Cissie Colpitts
Juliet Stevenson 2nd Cissie Colpitts
Joely Richardson 3rd Cissie Colpitts
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 Martina Bellamy
Sharon Howard-Field Actor
Michael Fitzgerald Mr. 70 Van Dyke
Edward Tudor-Pole Mr. 71 Van Dyke
Natalie Morse Skipping Girl
Arthur Spreckley Sid the Gravedigger
Ian Talbot Police Detective
Roderic Leigh Policeman
Vanni Corbellini The Hare
Jose Berg Skipping Girl's Mother

Technical Credits
Peter Greenaway Director,Screenwriter
Allard Bekker Set Decoration/Design
Constance de Vos Set Decoration/Design
John Wilson Editor
Kees Kasander Producer
Sara Meerman Makeup
Michael Nyman Score Composer
Jan Roelfs Production Designer
Bill Stephens Producer
Ben Van Os Production Designer
Dien van Straalen Costumes/Costume Designer
Sacha Vierny Cinematographer
Denis Wigman Producer
Heather Williams Costumes/Costume Designer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Drowning by Numbers
1. Start [12:37]
2. Jake's Drowned [12:23]
3. Dead Man's Catch [11:21]
4. Counting Bees [6:44]
5. Game Rules [13:21]
6. Another Death [12:16]
7. Too Proficient [7:25]
8. A Proposal [10:05]
9. Blackberries [9:51]
10. Three Rebuffs [4:53]
11. Tug Of War [14:21]
12. End Credits [3:17]

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