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Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)

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A young peasant maid working in the house of painter Johannes Vermeer becomes his talented assistant and the model for one of his most famous works.

Director:

Peter Webber

Writers:

Tracy Chevalier (novel), Olivia Hetreed (screenplay)
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Popularity
4,545 ( 400)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 41 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Colin Firth ... Vermeer
Scarlett Johansson ... Griet
Tom Wilkinson ... Van Ruijven
Judy Parfitt ... Maria Thins
Cillian Murphy ... Pieter
Essie Davis ... Catharina
Joanna Scanlan ... Tanneke
Alakina Mann ... Cornelia
Chris McHallem Chris McHallem ... Griet's Father
Gabrielle Reidy Gabrielle Reidy ... Griet's Mother
Rollo Weeks ... Frans
Anna Popplewell ... Maertge
Anaïs Nepper Anaïs Nepper ... Lisbeth
Melanie Meyfroid Melanie Meyfroid ... Aleydis
Nathan Nepper Nathan Nepper ... Johannes
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Storyline

This film, adapted from a work of fiction by author Tracy Chevalier, tells a story about the events surrounding the creation of the painting "Girl With a Pearl Earring" by 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. Little is known about the girl in the painting, it is speculated that she was a maid who lived in the house of the painter along with his family and other servants, though there is no historical evidence. This masterful film attempts to recreate the mysterious girl's life. Griet, played by Scarlett Johansson, is a maid in the house of painter Johannes Vermeer, played by British actor Colin Firth. Vermeer's wealthy patron and sole means of support, Van Ruijven, commissions him to paint Griet with the intent that he will have her for himself before it is finished. She must somehow secretly pose for the crucial painting without the knowledge of Vermeer's wife, avoid Van Ruijven's grasp, and protect herself from the cruel gossip of the world of a 17th century servant. Written by thexotherxchris

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Discover the mystery behind the legend. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | Luxembourg

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 January 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Das Mädchen mit dem Perlenohrring See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$89,472, 14 December 2003

Gross USA:

$11,634,362
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although Vermeer and the painting both are real historic figures, the screenplay is based on Tracy Chevalier's novel and therefore largely fictional or hypothetical. Only 36 Vermeer paintings are known to exist today, and none of the models has ever been positively identified. A poster of the painting in her bedroom inspired Chevalier to write her own version of how it came to exist, based on the framework of Vermeer's known history. Chevalier sold the film rights and opted not to have any involvement in the film or screenplay, although after its release said that she was pleased with the results. See more »

Goofs

When Van Ruijven comes to dinner, to discuss a new commission for Vermeer, he grabs Griet and she drops the dishes she is carrying. She leans down to pick them up placing a broken piece on top of one that isn't. When she stands back up neither plate she has in her hand is broken. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Griet's Mother: Griet! Leave that.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in St. Trinian's (2007) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

visually stunning, though lacking in dramatic intensity
20 July 2004 | by Buddy-51See all my reviews

Behind every picture there lies a story, and the film `Girl With a Pearl Earring' purports to give us the inside scoop into the making of Vermeer's classic painting of the same name. In the mid 1600's, a young, illiterate peasant girl named Griet came to live and work as a servant in the home of the promising, yet still financially struggling, Dutch master. Obsessed by her beauty, Vermeer insisted on using her as the subject for one of his works, much to the horror and chagrin of his jealous and shrewish wife. Despite the domestic havoc it caused, the collaboration between artist and subject resulted in one of the genuine masterpieces of the art world.

Visually, this film could not be more stunning. Thanks to luminous cinematography, art direction and costume design, the audience watching this film feels almost as if it has been transported into a Vermeer work. Director Peter Webber recreates every element of that world in loving detail, right down to his choice of actress Scarlett Johansson, who is a dead ringer for the model in the original portrait. Alexandre Desplat's score also captures the lyrical, haunting tenderness of the subject matter.

`Girl With a Pearl Earring' is a very fine movie in many respects, but it is ultimately unsatisfying because it cannot match in content what it achieves in style. Despite the exquisite look of the film, the characters seem strangely underdeveloped, most especially Vermeer himself, who remains frustratingly superficial throughout. Thanks mainly to his taciturn moodiness, we never get to know much of what he is thinking or feeling. The romantic moments between artist and subject are admirably restrained – and thereby all the more erotic in nature – but we do feel as if we would like to know more about him as a person. Griet is only slightly more fully developed, although, in her case, we can at least ascribe this lack of information to the restrictions placed on her by her station in life and the society of her time. Unlike Vermeer, Griet was conditioned by the world around her to be a passive observer. But Vermeer needs to be a more dynamic presence in the story.

One admires the fact that the filmmakers have remained truthful to the spirit of the enterprise, refusing to indulge in cheap melodramatics to make the story more salacious and scandalous than in truth it really was. Yet, in dramatic terms, such integrity comes with a price, for the film often has the effect of lulling rather than stimulating us, of raising our expectations then failing to fully satisfy them. Perhaps, in the case of this particular artwork, the story-behind-the-picture wasn't really all that interesting to begin with.


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