6 March 2008

Girl with a Pearl Earring, 2003

Filed under: Movies — ktismatics @ 1:57 pm


This movie played at the Rialto, a 5 minute walk from our apartment and a block away from the opulent Hotel Negresco. It was in front of the Negresco where, in 1927, Isadora Duncan got her scarf snagged in the wheel of her Bugatti and strangled to death. My wife, daughter and I saw Pearl Earring with our daughter’s amie d’école Laetitia and her parents. It’s strange watching an English-language movie with French subtitles — makes you think you’re seeing an art film.

The next week we set off on a short vacance to Belgium and the Netherlands. While in Antwerp we decided to take a quick train ride to The Hague for the sole purpose of seeing Vermeer’s famous painting at the Mauritshuis. Walking back to the train station from the museum we passed a movie theater: guess what was showing?

When we returned to Nice our daughter told Laetitia that she had seen the Pearl Earring painting, the real one. Laetitia was amazed: “You mean they made a real painting based on the movie?”




  1. haha


    Comment by dionysusstoned — 7 March 2008 @ 6:59 am

  2. Clysmatics both Scarlett Johansson and that movie are a sort of a clysmatics of Vermeer as well as Holland, for the pristine whiteness of the whole thing is quite like the optimistic design of your blawg: pure intellect without any Unconscious content, which almost certainly and inevitably means there’s a hefty amount of repression going on behind that Fluorodent whiteness.

    For me the value of this portrait is in Calvinist Vermeer’s paedophilic gaze on the girl slave, where he discovers innocence and sensuality in her simpleton personality and his white supremacist racism is aroused by Creolic beauty.

    What this portrait is NOT and never could be is the Merchant Ivory narrative (you know those horrid uptight British movies starring Sir ANthony Hopkins which are about REPRESSION). I felt that the artistic direction of the film was a much more impressive accomplishmaint than the film itself.


    Comment by parodycenter — 7 March 2008 @ 3:17 pm

  3. It’s also racist I think that since she has a pearl, item only available to the Masters, she is somehow ”special” in the Master’s eyes so maybe he is going to fuck her some more before she is thrown to the streets or made to work on a Dutch farm as the attendant of the shit outlet. The Dutch collect shit in these huge siloses, so there are vast pools of shit excreted by the Calvinists being gathered together in a safe place.


    Comment by parodycenter — 7 March 2008 @ 3:20 pm

  4. Whoever the girl really was, in the movie she’s a Calvinist. Though apparently the serving girls were expected to serve the master in every possible way, she plays hard to get. This adds to the sublimated tension experienced by Vermeer, who expresses his lust in the luminous and fetishistic rendering of the girl on canvas. The movie portrays Vermeer as a stern but lusty and fertile bull who presides over a whole Catholic houseful of children. In real life Vermeer grew up Protestant but married a Catholic woman and converted. So presumably he was no stranger to the Calvinist repression ethos. It’s as if in this painting he imbued this working girl with the iconic luminescence of a medieval saint, rather than the warts-and-all realistic renderings of the thoroughly Protestant Rembrandt.


    Comment by ktismatics — 7 March 2008 @ 6:12 pm

  5. Well whatever the fuck he did Scarlett doesn’t have any luminescence, especially not of any saint, she just looks like a plain provincial cow that she is in real life! And without ruddy cheeks to give the impression that she’s at least ripe enough for a roll in the hay, her paleness is even more unremarkable.

    Yes this playing hard to get is the burgeois core of the movie, Dutch kitsch rendered in self-glorifying colors. Vermeer as a nobleman, not a Stablemaster, and Scarlett the vixen instead of Scarlett the Dutch groom.

    How…romantic. Something for dr. Josephina Kugelmessalina!

    I wonder why Code Inconnu disappeared I hope I didn’t scare him off with one mild comment???

    By the way that treacherous bitch of a Jonquille is playing hard to get. Im sure she’s laughing her ass off at the exclusive snippet I published, in which I portray her as a hopeless snob without a pearl earing, but she’s too proud to admit it.


    Comment by parodycenter — 7 March 2008 @ 6:32 pm

  6. There was a democratization theme played out in the movie, with Griet (Scarlett’s character) the daughter of a craftsman who through some unexplained accident was rendered blind and thus unable to earn money. Vermeer made money but not enough to make ends meet apparently, so they relied on the largesse of his wife’s mother. Who paid for the wife’s pearl earrings? Probably not the artist. The mother-in-law is complicit in the scheme, taking the earrings from her daughter and giving them to Griet for the posing. It’s hard to ascertain her motives, since the pearls were almost surely worth more than any money the painting would bring in. So Griet is elevated in status in the household with the cooperation of the mother-in-law. After the wife kicks Griet out, somebody brings her the earrings — she’s the rightful wearer of these beautiful objects. Is it the wife or the mother-in-law who sends them? Unstated. Anyhow, there are a lot of longing and lustful and desirous gazes permeating the movie, which I thought was a bit tiresome but did tie into the intrinsically obsessive work of painting someone’ likeness. I saw a French movie awhile back that emphasized this fetishistic, obsessive, voyeuristic nature of portrait painting, with the subject of the work being the artist’s petit objet a. And Griet gets hot posing. She lets Vermeer pierce her ear in a moment of exquisitely sensual pain, and after she strikes her come-hither pose she runs off to the town to get the butcher boy to deflower her toute suite.

    Since Dominic has already expressed his distaste for Miss Johanssen, I suspect maybe he finds this post revolting. I thought the idea of my daughter’s friend thinking the painting was inspired by the movie exemplifies the confusions between levels of reality that also plays itself out inside several of the movies we’ve discussed lately, including Videodrome and Ghost World.


    Comment by ktismatics — 7 March 2008 @ 6:56 pm

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