Thursday, June 30, 2011
Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)
Categories This Movie Fits Into
1) Independent Film. Period. OR Independent Period Film – It stars celebrities Colin Firth as Vermeer and Scarlet Johansson as Griet, but more and more of the Famous Folk are starring in low-budget films in recent years. The budget was 12 million, large for a UK-produced independent film, and raked in 31,466,789 million world-wide. So, basically, it’s nearer to a mainstream production than some independent films, but less than some others. It was recognized at the British Independent Film Awards (Best Actress Scarlett Johansson) and received much critical acclaim.
And how do you know it’s an independent film, despite its success? The awkward silences, the extended moments, and the other realistic touches that Hollywood smooths out of their films in order not to make the audience uncomfortable.
2) Meaningful Silence Film - This is a subtle film. Actors communicate more with their bodies than their lines, which leaves the characters and the viewer’s interpretation of them in the hands of the cast. I like to listen to films while I work, sometimes, as background noise and as audio entertainment. Pulp Fiction, for instance, is heavily reliant on script. That’s not so for this film. If you don’t watch, you will miss out on layers and layers of tension and meaning.
3) The Surprisingly Gifted Individual – Griet is artistically inclined, which only Vermeer and the viewer sees. She understands color, light, and even composition. She knows that clouds are not just “white,” is aware that dusting the windows can drastically change lighting, and knows that adding certain objects in a certain area in a painting can balance a composition (Griet: MUST. MOVE. CHAIR.) This is one of the reasons why Griet is useful to Vermeer and why she intrigues him. They share an eye for art, and Vermeer helps her develop that muscle.
(Griet considering composition)
4) The Other Guy… No Wait, That’s the Right Guy – A variation of the forbidden love trope. Examples of this would be situations where the guy is a teacher and the girl is a student, or one of the two is married. A necessity would be for them to CARE about the rules or the people that they would be betraying. Consequences might be hurting a spouse. Classic example: Guinevere and Lancelot.
However, this particular variation includes another guy (the Right guy) who is usually part of a subplot. He is the guy the girl should be with. He’s perfectly lovely: handsome, smart, and is enamored with her. In chick-flicks, he’s usually the guy who wishes her the best before handing her over to the main hero. In this case, the butcher’s son, Pieter, is the Right guy, and Vermeer is “the guy the girl wants.” However, the connection between Griet and Vermeer is more of an energy than an acted upon longing.
5) Sensory Film – This goes along with the film being very reliant on the actors and their decisions on how to portray their characters. The viewer uses all their senses to relate to what the characters are going through: sight, smell, taste, and sound. Color is important, texture is important, and the character’s experiences are important. When they smell something, we have our own memories of what that same object might smell like. Or, for instance, when the servant is talking about Van Ruijven getting a servant girl pregnant, and she’s slathering two featherless dead birds with butter. The slapping sound you hear contributes to the feeling you get from the story and from the person telling the story. This is one of the things that I enjoyed about the film. You relate to the action onscreen in many different ways.
Colin Firth and Scarlet Johansson communicate so much with their bodies: their faces, their hands, their movements, etcetera. I give them both major props for carrying their characters so well, because for the film was heavily reliant on them. Although I am not a big fan of Johansson, she did nice work and, of course, Colin Firth is a joy as always. (Good job, Darcy.)
This is a serious, artistic drama with an ending that is more realistic than Hollywood. Worth the look if you’re in a pensive mood. AND, if you’re a fan of Vermeer, this could be very interesting for you. This film recreates the world of Vermeer and the world that might have existed outside his paintings.
Not to extend this too far by adding details I didn’t include in the text above, I also thought that the costuming and period sets were excellent. There were many browns, greens, and beiges, as was accurate for the servants, but it was still beautiful and crisp.
The entire film is on YouTube. If you care to watch, here is the first vid.