Girl with a Pearl Earring

January 9, 2004 0 By Fans
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Girl with a Pearl EarringStill of Scarlett Johansson in Girl with a Pearl EarringColin Firth at event of Girl with a Pearl EarringScarlett Johansson in Girl with a Pearl EarringStill of Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson in Girl with a Pearl EarringStill of Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson in Girl with a Pearl Earring


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.

Release Year: 2003

Rating: 7.0/10 (31,962 voted)

Critic's Score: 72/100

Peter Webber

Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson

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…

Writers: Tracy Chevalier, Olivia Hetreed


Colin Firth

Johannes Vermeer

Scarlett Johansson


Tom Wilkinson

Pieter Van Ruijven

Judy Parfitt

Maria Thins

Cillian Murphy


Essie Davis

Catharina Bolnes Vermeer

Joanna Scanlan


Alakina Mann

Cornelia Vermeer

Chris McHallem

Griet's Father

Gabrielle Reidy

Griet's Mother

Rollo Weeks


Anna Popplewell


Anaïs Nepper


Melanie Meyfroid


Nathan Nepper


He had a vision no one saw as clearly as she. In a house where everything had its place, where every image had meaning, he gave her the power to see the light. She gave him a look that would last forever…..


Official Website:
Lions Gate Films [United States] |
Pathé Distribution [France] |

Release Date: 9 January 2004

Filming Locations: Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands

Opening Weekend: $89,472
(14 December 2003)
(7 Screens)

Gross: $11,634,362
(2 May 2004)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


The painting that Griet inspired Vermeer to paint while she is washing the window of his studio is called "Woman with a Water Jug". It is currently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY.


When Vermeer shows Griet the camera obscura, the scene that is set up for the painting is the one he just sold of the woman examining the pearls in the mirror. But when Griet looks into the camera, it's the scene with the woman at the window.


[first lines]

Griet's Mother:
Griet! Leave that.

User Review

A Wonderful Film Not Just about Vermeer, but Artistic Motivation


Johannes Vermeer was a silent man. Being equipped with immense talent,
brush and palette, there really was no need for words. Such philosophy
is greatly dwelt upon in Peter Webber's adaptation of Tracy Chevalier's

The film is breathtaking alone in the fact that the production team,
led by cinematographer Eduardo Serra, production designer Ben Van Os,
and art director Christina Shaeffer, manages to capture Vermeer's
filling, oil-based colors, and light into every scene.

The story is exemplary as well. We are taken into a brief era in
Vermeer's life in 17th century Delft. Much of the film's premise is
true: Vermeer was a reticent and brilliant painter who attempted to
balance his genius and deep-rooted, innate calling to art and solitude
with the often overbearing demands of a bourgeoisie, Venetian society,
as well as the malignant pressures posted by a sadistic commissioner,
and the pressures of being the head of a massive household (when he
died in 1675, he left behind his wife and 11 children).

In 1665, however, he painted a mysterious masterpiece. It's mysterious
because much scholarship has since been dedicated to uncovering the
identity of the model who posed for it. It has been suggested that the
subject is one of his daughters, although this theory is met today with
much skepticism. And this is where the film spends most of its
fictional focus: that of creating an imaginary story to help speculate
on what we know as factual about Vermeer's life. Enter a young,
beautiful servant girl, Grit (Scarlett Johansson), who through no fault
of her own, finds that her classic beauty attracts Vermeer's
sensibilities-as a man and as an artist-to such a degree that he has no
choice but to capture her on oil and canvas.

Vermeer (Colin Firth) spends a lot of time in this film standing
quietly in the shadows and peeking around corners. There's great
symbolism in many of these shots-his body is often half-covered,
half-exposed, representing the dichotomy he must have felt in his
life-that of being in perpetual conflict with his spiritual, artistic
longings and the more human qualities of a man.

Whereas Vermeer' silence is a result of his being reluctant to
communicate with the external world, mostly due to artistic
self-absorption, Griet similarly is cut off from humanity, but rather
out of innocence, naivety, beauty, and the unfortunate side effect of
being at the low end of a rather oppressive Delft caste system where
she has little voice outside of the disturbance her beauty stimulates
in others. Together, the two characters find an unspoken solace, a type
of kinetic energy that can only be conveyed through Vermeer's art.
Indeed, one of the film's more touching moments comes when the artist
reveals his portrait of her and Griet replies, 'You've seen into me.'
Another memorable moment, if not altogether breathtaking, comes when
Vermeer is instructing Griet in how to hold her face at the proper
angle in order to catch the appropriate reflection of light on her
mouth, and also when he is instructing her in how to mix his paints and
their hands, for a split second, brush together. It is in such moments
that Firth brilliantly conveys the tormenting dissonance present in a
man not in whose base desires are overshadowing his artistic being, but
rather the opposite-as a virtuoso experiencing a rare moment of
temporary carnal pleasure.

All philosophy aside, is the film any good? I'd say it's extraordinary,
although if you're not one to gravitate toward the biography of an
artist, this may not be the film for you. However, I do believe that
the human story element her is valuable, entertaining, and worthwhile.