May 22, 2009
I thought it would be interesting to read a film review of ‘Girl with a Parl Earring’ to see how it was recieved and percieved by the critics. Below is an extract of thefilm review taken from New York Times online:
At the start of ”Girl With a Pearl Earring,” Griet (Scarlett Johansson) is shown peeling an onion, an image as metaphor rarely seen outside first-semester filmmaking classes. The determination visible in such an effort communicates Importance Writ Large. And the film, adapted by Olivia Hetreed from Tracy Chevalier’s novel, does have a great subject: the story surrounding an artwork shrouded in mystery and a project that ruins a woman’s reputation yet ensures her a place in history.
This film, which opens today in New York and Los Angeles, is the imagined tale of Griet, a maid who became the muse of Johannes Vermeer and the subject of his painting ”Girl With a Pearl Earring.” Ms. Johansson is photographed so that her skin is as opalescent as her earring, but the movie is opaque. It is an earnest, obvious melodrama with no soul, filled with the longing silences that come after a sigh.
Yet the care that has gone into making ”Earring,” a dexterous and absorbing visual re-creation of the lighting and the look that Vermeer achieved in his work, is a tribute to the director Peter Webber’s own group of artisans, the cinematographer Eduardo Serra and the production designer Ben van Os. The gorgeous score, by Alexandre Desplat, brushes in a haunted gloom that gives the picture life where none seems to exist. This is the kind of film that would prompt the movie industry trade papers to say ”technical credits above par.”
Taken from : http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/
May 8, 2009
I find the fictional character of Griet in Tracy Chevalier’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ fascinating. It seems as though because so little is known about the origins of the painting and the identity of the girl, the world has been free to speculate and therefore to create this moving story. As Chevalier’s story goes, Griet is a servant girl forced into working for Vermeer’s household through her impoverished state. She find a role there, collecting the meat from the butcher, doing the laundry, cleaning the house. However as time goes on she becomes part of Vermeer’s world, and almost by accident, his work. The novel describes the deep intimacy and tension shared between the artist and Griet, despite there being no historical evidence that Vermeer and his wife were unhappily married. Whatever the real circumstances were seem irrelevant however, as a work of fiction, and then of course, a film have been crafted out of a painting which left itself open to interpretation. Below is an exact from the book that I wanted to share:
‘What do you want sir?’ I asked, sitting. I was puzzled – we ever sat together. I shivered, although I was not cold.
‘Don’t talk.’ He opened a shutter so that the light fell directly on my face. ‘Look out the window.’ He sat down in his chair by the easel.
I gazed at the New Church tower and swollowed. I could feel my jaw tightening and my eyes widening.
‘Now look at me.’
I turned my head and looked at him over my left shoulder.
His eyes locked with mine. I could think of nothing except how their grey was like the inside of an oyster shell.
He seemed to be waiting for something. My face began to strain with the fear that I was not giving him what he wanted.
‘Griet,’ he said softly. It was all he had to say. My eyes filled with tears I did not shed. I knew now.
‘Yes. Don’t move.’
He was going to paint me.
Extract taken from : Chevalier, Tracy. Girl With A Pearl Earring (Harper Collins, GB 1999) p.180
April 30, 2009
The identity of the girl in ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ is the most debated about aspect of the painting, and there are many theories on the subject. Here are just a few that I found on-line and seem to be the most convincing;
- Vermeer’s eldest daughter, Maria – this theory has come about because scholars believe that Vermeer’s daughter, born in 1654, would have been about the same age of the girl depicted in the painting.
- The daughter of Vermeer’s principle commissioner – Vermeer’s main commissioner, Pieter Van Ruijven, had a daughter that would also fit the description of the girl in the painting and so is another suggestion as to the girl’s identity.
- Griet, the servant girl – Although no historical evidence supports the idea that Vermeer’s servant girl posed for the painting, this ides has been developed recently in Tracy Chevalier’s novel and also by the popular film staring Scarlet Johansson in 2003. Perhaps this is a romanticised theory of the identity of the girl in the painting and the story that now is associated with it.
Despite these theories; it seems evident that the answer will never become clear. However we must ask; is the identity of the girl entirely relevant? interesting certainly, but my personal opinion is that if Vermeer wished the viewer to know the identity of the girl he would have left some kind of evidence.