Sunday, December 2, 2012


Sometimes my social history background is pleasantly pleased and excited by a movie in which the director and company try to produce a faithful rendition of a time and place. I like to see how the people lived, the social stratifications, the costumes and (especially)art, and all else that goes with the time. Although I may not be a specialist in that period, I usually get the feeling as to if they carried it off. And I think they did in the wonderful film, Peter Weller's Girl With a Pearly Earring (2003), a story about a young servant girl in the employ of the great painting master Jan Vermeer in the city of Delft. The movie focuses on the relationship that develops between master and servant as the painter tries to satisfy the wishes of his most powerful patron, and how her presence (and the spector of a former dalliance by Vermeer) affects his wife, child, and even community. Colin Firth is excellent as the laconic Vermeer, who seems to be irritated that he has to answer to the whims of a patron, but he has family obligations, particularly a large family. Scarlett Johansson is very good as the servant girl Griet. I thought Joanna Scanlon was extremely good in her role, and if she wan't nominated for anything, it would be a crime. Judy Parfitt, who plays Vermeer's mother-in-law Maria Thins, and Essie Davis, who plays his wife Catarine, were very good. Though he is a decent actor, there is something about Cillian Murphy that I just don't like (unfairly), but I just don't like his look or something. Maybe because he often plays villans. What is relly interesting to me is the insight one gets into the running of a somewhat wealthy (though financially stressed) wealthy household in seventeenth-century Holland. You can almost get a feeling of what some of our colonial forebears were like and how they existed, bringing some aspects of their world to America. The only thing you don't get is the smell, and you can imagine. I was confused with the camera obscura, which I thought would have been invented much later (and will have to go look that up). Generally, though, if you want a nice, slow movie with beautiful scenes and you like historical fiction, I think this movie might be one you would like to pick up on dvd.

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