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Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003 - PG13)
Adapted from Chevalier's novel, GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING tells of how the infamous portrait came into being. When a humble yet beautiful maid Griet, goes to work for the Vemeer family in Delft, Holland, 1665, the famous painter Johannes Vemeer begins to obsess over his new subject. As his muse, she would inspire one of the most renowned paintings of time, "Girl with a Pearl Earring", at a dangerous price.
Written by: Tracy Chevalier (novel) and Olivia Hetreed (screenplay).
Directed by: Peter Webber.
Genre: Biography, Drama, History.
Rated: PG13 for some sexual content.
Tagline: She would become the most famous maid in
Set in Delft, Holland 1665, GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING tells of how this infamous painting was begot. Daughter to a poor family, Griet (Scarlet Johansson) was soon forced to leave the sanctity of her home to work as a maid for the Vemeer family. There, Griet was forced to work alongside Tanneke (Joanna Scanlan) and take about completing the endless chore list assigned by the mistress of the house, Catharina (Essie Davis). A wildly jealous and insecure woman, wreaks havoc on Griet's life from the moment she entered the house as a 'charity case'.
Not helping Griet's fate is her beauty, which has begun to turn the heads of quite a few men in town, including the local butcher boy Pieter (Cillian Murphy), and art patron, Master Van Ryfen (Tom Wilkinson) of whom they family is dependent for funds. Even her husband himself seems to have taken quite a liking to the innocent maid. Thinking her incessant pregnancies will prove to Griet that she owns Johannes, continually strives to oppress Griet with laborious chores, abusive slanders, and harsh penances for crimes she didn't commit. The jealous wife even goes so far as to include her mother in her jealous affairs, but her mother Maria Thins (Judy Parfitt), recognizes the importance for Johannes' paintings which, like it or not, put food on the table.
As Griet becomes the prime subject for not one but two of Johannes' paintings, his insecure wife goes near mad with envy. But the second painting is to be a secret gift for the divine pleasure of Johannes' patron, and no one is to know of its composition. Nevertheless his inquiring daughter Cornelia (Alakina Mann) begins to suspect trouble and leaks evidence to her mother as well as continually rats out Griet for unjust crimes. Meanwhile the butcher boy has become quite persistent in his courting Griet, and though he hears rumors of her passion for Johannes, he dares to propose to her, which is met with yet another blank stare from the curious woman.
As tension mounts in the house, Johannes does the unthinkable. He decides to take one of his wife's pearls and allows Griet to wear it for the painting. But Griet is a Quaker, whose conservative upbringing did not allow the piercing of her ear. Nevertheless, compassionately Johannes pierces her ear and places the brilliant pearl earring through the tender hole, the most compassionate, albeit passionate gesture he can muster. But the painting is to be as remarkable as Griet's realistic presence and when Johannes' wife catches wind of its revered composition she goes stark mad and exiles Griet from the house. But what is to become of Master Van Ryfen who so covets Griet in life that he is willing to pay Johannes for an inferior version in a portrait? Moreover, what of the love of the poor butcher boy? With nothing to call her own, Griet heads out into the world as penniless a case as when she first entered Johannes's house, only to be surprised by the grateful, albeit suggestive gift, of the pearl earrings, from none other than Johannes.
But though the earrings themselves may be the most important memento in Griet's life, Johannes' rendition of her on canvas has become arguably one of the most coveted paintings in art history, and still begs contemplation today.
GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING is a dramatic tale of the tragic fate of one of art's most inspirational figures. Griet was a woman with nothing to call her own, a woman who was to answer to the jealous pleas of superiors only in wealth, not in beauty or courage. The riveting love story of a young maiden and her master is brilliantly portrayed. The film recounts the conservative approaches of both master and maiden in a tempting tale of passion, love, jealousy, betrayal, etc. It is a beautiful piece of cinematography and as much as the setting, costumes, and script is beautiful, so too are the performances by Colin Firth, Scarlet Johansson, Tom Wilkinson, and Judy Parfitt. Essie Davis plays Johannes' jealous wife brilliantly. Her passion, intensity, and stark jealousy jump off the screen and threaten to intimidate even the audience who can't help but feel torn between heating and sympathizing with the grief stricken woman who just wants her husband to find inspiration in her as he does in the beautiful woman 12 years her junior.
GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING is a remarkable portrait of Flemish life and art; it tells in a cultural perspective the fictitious vision of how one of the world's best art is that which comes at a price higher than money. Adapted from the fictitious novel by With 3 Oscars nominations, 10 awards, and 31 other nominations, GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING is a fantastic film to be enjoyed by true drama lovers and art historians.
Scarlet Johansson plays Griet, the humble maiden who will become the primary subject if inspiration for painter Johannes Vermeer.
Colin Firth plays Johannes Vermeer, the infamous painter who will make Griet the subject of inspiration for what will become the renown portrait, 'Girl with a Pearl Earring'.
Tom Wilkinson plays Master Van Ryfen, the aristocratic art patron whose payments finance the Vermerr household.
Essie Davis plays Catharine Vermeer, Johannes' jealous wife. Judy Parfitt plays Maria Thins, Catharina's mother.
Joanna Scanlan plays Tanneke, another of the Vermeer maids and Griet's only alliance in the household.
Alakina Mann plays Cornelia Vermeer, Johannes' youngest daughter who begins to suspect something wrong with the tension between her mother and the maid Griet.