After numerous recommendations, I finally watched Girl with a Pearl Earring. Vermeer is probably my favorite painter (along with Paul Klee, van Goyen, and Delacroix), and I concentrated on social and cultural history of the Low Countries for the early modern field on my comps. I agree with what many people have said, including Brdgt, that the director and cinematographer succeeded in recreating the light and atmosphere of his paintings. Ironically, they may have produced more Vermeer-esque interiors than Vermeer himself.

Unfortunately, I wish I were listening to something else while watching the movie. The story — I don’t know if it was the author of the book or the screenwriter who adapted the novel — missed a lot by creating a story about artistic obsession and female objectification. Vermeer’s paintings, so cool and restrained, resituated desire in bourgeois virtue and piety. The Dutch mentality was driven in opposing directions: the accumulation and guilt of success. Houses filled with things and people that successful businessmen loathed to enjoy. Vermeer’s women could be as distant as the objects that surrounded them. In the film Vermeer possessed but never created the distance that typified his work.

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