Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003) - full transcript

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, avoid Van Ruijven's grasp, and protect herself from the cruel gossip of the world of a 17th century servant.


Leave that.

- Griet?
- Father.

Do you remember?

You watched me paint it.

I never thought our family
would come to this.

Food may be strange
to your stomach.

Keep clear of their Catholic prayers.

Or if you must be with them
when they pray...

stop your ears.

Give it.
I got Cornelia's too.

- Give it back.
- Stop it!

You did not get it.
I did.

Do you know the house
of Master Vermeer?

Tell Tanneke
the new maid is here.

You took your time.
Lose your way, did you?

Young mistress is out
this morning.

I'm to show you round.

Water for the table.

Take water from the canal
for laundry.

It's clean enough
this side of town.

coppers, boiler...

sand and soap.

In cooking kitchen you're to help
serve and clear,

buy fish and meat...

when young mistress
don't want to.

You'll take your meals
with me and the children.

That's your sleeping place.

Scour the pots and pans.

Young mistress and master sleep
and have company here.

You'll get used to it.

You're to clean in there.

Not now!

He's painting.

Good morning, madam.

Don't speak till
you're spoken to.

Tanneke showed you what needs
to be done? The laundry and so on?

Yes, madam.

This is only a trial.
Nothing is settled yet.


my husband does...

Go in.

Go in.

Disturb nothing.

Leave all just as it is.

Open the shutters,
you can't work in the dark.

You're not the first to forget
your manners in front of his paintings.

Tell me, girl...

do you think it finished?

Three months.

Another three before he's satisfied,
no doubt.

Well get along, girl.

You're not paid
to stand gawping all day.

Good to see you.

Are you well?

- Can we go?
- Here's my man.


This is Griet,
the new maid.

She'll fetch the meat now.

So, Griet...

what takes your fancy?

Nothing is too good
for this family?

An ox tongue
and a dozen chops.



In the book again?

There you are.

This meat's not fresh.

The mistress won't like it.


Get the parcel
on the cart.

That's better.

We'll see you again, Griet.



I'll take that.

Make way now.

- What is it?
- Bankrupt.

They've lived next door
for as long as I can remember.

The shame.

Lost everything.

Watch out for young mistress.

She hates money troubles.

She'll turn spiteful at this,
you mark my words.

The last time you said it was
done you kept it another six months!

It will be done soon.

Oh yes, soon.
But when is soon?

Next month, next year?

It's all the same to you,

if your children starve
and your wife is dressed in rags.

When you sit up there
and suck at your paintbrush...

You're being ridiculous.
I'm going out.

No, Jan,
don't you dare leave.

One year it got so bad,
they had to sell some of their jewels.

You could imagine
how that pleased her.

She smashed half the china...

went to spoil
one of his precious paintings.

Well, he's a temper on him too
for all he's so quiet.

She's not set so much as a foot
in his studio from that day to this.

There you are.
Fetch some water.

Hail Mary, Mother of God,

pray for us sinners now
and at the hour of our death.

Six babies. Why does
she have to make such a racket?

Just get on with the work.


I need more rags, girl.

More rags.

Push, push!

Good, that's good!

Oh, Jan,
isn't he just like you?

Johannes, that's it.

Look at him,
he's your little brother.

Take this to the house of your master's
patron, Pieter van Ruijven.

To the left.

Open up,
there's a lady coming in.

That's it.

So, finished at last.

Honored guest.

It's the old woman's idea to combine
the birth feast and the viewing.

She is a tight fist.

I won't turn out
for small beer and biscuits, tell her.

Me and the brat
deserve a proper feast.

You have a very wide eyes.

What do they call you?

- Griet.
- Griet?


Your master is a fine painter,

The finest in Delft.

He's painted me.

Perhaps that will be
my epitaph.

Look at that dress.

You can almost stroke
the satin.

And the wine winkling
through the glass.

Can you imagine yourself
in such finery, Griet?

She loved it, you know.

Lace and satin pressed tight
against the plump little bubbies.

The silk, heavy on her thighs.

The gentlemen watching.

My God, she was happy.

She thought she was somebody.

All dressed up like a lady.

Green as grass,
mind you.

She had only worked there
a few months

before Master Van Ruijven
brought her over to be painted.

Got her into that fine red dress.

Poured wine down her
like he was forcing a goose.

That dress
can't have stayed on long.

She was carrying his by-blow
before the painting was dry.

He thinks we don't know
how to celebrate a birth, does he?

Come on, keep up.

Come on now, my little one.
I've got a lovely apple for you.

The price was three guilders,
I'm sure of that.

Three guilders...
thank you.

Why are you here?

A nice greeting, when I brought
the meat order just for you.

Better carry it through.

Not even a smile
for my pains?

Not today.

Come on.

I'll put it in the book, then.
Owed by Griet...

one smile.

And don't they look marvelous?

Master Van Ruijven.

Mistress Thins.

Friends and neighbors,

our honored guest,
Master Van Ruijven...

not only
are we gathered tonight

to celebrate the safe delivery
into this world,

praise be to God,
of little Franciscus,

but also to rejoice
at another birth,

a new masterpiece
from the hand of my son-in-law

Johannes Vermeer.

Is this Indian yellow?

Distilled from the urine
of sacred cows

fed only on mango leaves.

You've glazed my wife
in dried piss.

It was the right color.

No stinting, eh?

I cannot bear the suspense
a moment longer, Master Van Ruijven.

Pray tell us
what you think.

This is good.

Color and perspective is true,
the illusion... is perfect.

All this skill lavished
on my dear Emilie.


it's almost as if...
she were thinking.

And have you considered
the subject for your next commission?

We cannot expect you to give up Emilie
for so long again.

Considered? It's already in hand.
Didn't I tell you?

A coming fellow
from Amsterdam.

Studied under
Rembrandt van Rijn,

though, who hasn't
these days?

"A Merry Company by Candlelight,"
candlelight being his forte.

So, have you decided
what to daub next, Jan?

Have you found inspiration up
in that room of yours?

Is there another patron in Delft
with pockets as deep as mine?

I've not yet found a subject.


About the studio, mistress.

Should I clean the windows?

You don't need to ask me
about such matters.

It's just...

it may change the light.

Of course.

Wash them.

Stay as you were.

By the window.

Drop it.


You can go.

Brothers and sisters...

welcome to the house
of the Lord God.

Let us lift up our hearts
and voices together

to give Him thanks and praise
for our safe passage...

Father, mother,
this is Pieter,

our butcher's son...
the family's butcher.

Sir, mistress,
I'm glad to meet you.

So, the butcher...
that's a good trade.

Griet is the hardest to please
of all our customers.

Aye, she gets that from me.

There now, I forgot.

We must speak with
Willem Jansson.

Griet, you go on
with Pieter there.

Good morning.
- So Griet...

where is that smile
you owe me,

when I have been so clever
as to track you down?

You had nothing better
to do.

She should know better.

She should at her age.

When I saw you with Tanneke I thought
you were a little Catholic girl.

He started a new painting.

There's no buyer.

He won't even let me see it.

But he's working again.

It usually takes him longer.


Very good.
Keep it level all the time.

Do you know what it is?

A camera obscura.

Look into the glass.

Here. Put this on.

You can see?

- I'm so sorry, sir.
- No, don't worry about the robe.

What did you see?

I saw the painting.


how did it get in there?

See this?

This is called "a lens."

Beams of reflected light
from that corner pass through it...

into the box...
so that we can see it here.

Is it real?

It's an image.

A picture made of light.

Does the box show you
what to paint?

It helps.

You didn't get me.
I got you.

No, you're cheating.

Oh, do we have to play this?


Stop it.
Oh, look Cornelia.


Now you're it.

- I've got it.
- I've got it.

Yes I can.

- No way.
- It's mine.

- No.
- I'll catch it.


I won't tell you again.

Girls, come inside.

- Why?
- Come on. Don't make a fuss.

It's dirty now.

- I'm sorry, sir.
- Shh...


Lead white.

From the cupboard.

Please let me see your hair.

What color is it?


Straight or curly?



- Very long?
- No.

My mother will expect me home.

She knows where you are, Griet.

You're looking at it?


Nothing is the right color.

This is the base color.

It gives the tone...

shadow in the light.

And when it's dry...

I glaze over it with blue, but...

thinly, so that
the black shows through.

Look, Griet.

Look at the clouds.

What color are they?


not white.


and grey.

There are colors
in the clouds.

Now you understand.

Thinking about
your butcher boy?


This... is ruby shellac.

Gum arabic.

Wine skin.

This will make verdigris.




linseed oil.

Bone black.

An you grind it with a muller,
like this.

You try.

Twist from the shoulder.

It's like this.


The child needs a draught.

My mother will not be content
till one of them dies from her meanness.

Come on.

You will need...

On the master's account.

- Griet.
- Sir?

I want you to get something
for me, too.

I want some colors.

My wife need not know.

This is too thin.

Did you get the lapis?

You can mix the colors.

Mix the colors?

Sir, I haven't time.

Make time.


- Nurse.
I'm coming.

Nurse! Come on!

How much longer is the wet nurse
to be with us, mistress?

I don't know.

A month or so.

No, Cornelia,
not my pearls.

A month or more.


What's it to you?

Well, she's eating us out of house
and home for a start.

She must eat for the baby.

All I'm saying is, I can't cook
twice as much and have no sleep at all.

Tell her to be quiet, then.

If I could just go back to the cellar...

Well, you can't.

Griet has your place.

Why not move Tanneke back?

Put a mattress in the attic
for Griet.

Tanneke can sleep soundly...

and Griet can clean the studio
before she comes down in the morning.

My jewels.

You always have my jewels
up there to paint.


You lock up at night,

open it in the morning.

Are you satisfied, Tanneke?

Yes, mistress.

Got it.
I win again.

No, we are drawing.

- Well, I do.
- No you don't.

No need to go
to the fish market tomorrow.

Mistress wants eggs.


she cannot abide the smell
when she's with child.

So soon?

As if there weren't enough mouths
to feed already.


what can you do, eh?



No, Jan.

Why did you move the chair?

She looked trapped.


Are you up there?

One of my tortoiseshell combs
is gone.

She's nothing but trouble.

Master, I did not do it.

Help me.

Let me look for you.


- Father?

Leave it alone. I'll find it.
Please, sir.

What's going on?
What are you doing?

Stop it!

For heaven's sake,

you're scaring the children.

What are you doing?


She's dishonest.

Always sneaking around.
Shirking her work.

Tanneke has complained of it.

Creeping upstairs all day long.

My daughter is right,
there has been too much sneaking about.

I only took her
out of charity.

- If I thought she'd be...
- With another child due

we need the extra help.

Fit in all your work

and do not slack
or it will be the worst for you.

I shall invite Master Van Ruijven.

Johannes must have
a new commission.

Get back to work.

All these girls.

The boys will soon
be swarming around like flies.

I tell you, if I was
a few years younger...

A connoisseur in everything,
Master Van Ruijven.

But you should be faithful
to one mistress above all others...


Your name will surely be famed
as one of the great patrons.

With your exquisite taste,

your subtle understanding
of allegory and allusion...

No, no, stop it, stop it. My God, woman,
you could sell sour milk to cows.

Now what is it you want?

A group painting.

Yourself and Emilie.

Your lovely daughter too.


a merry company.


a good meal on your table.

Your friends all about.

- And dancing.
- It's better. Better, better.

I'll take your bait.

The picture, several figures.

A merry gathering,
but no family portrait.

And if I'm to spend
tedious hours sitting

I want something
I can rest my eyes on.

I think she ought to be
in the painting.

A tavern scene.
It will make a change for you.

Griet could come and serve me.

Look at her, man.

How hard is it
to paint a pretty girl?

Can I have her?

Griet, there's been talk
of you.

I've done nothing.

Van Ruijven's cook says
you're to be painted with her master.

You'll have heard about him and the maid
that was painted before?

- You shouldn't believe gossip.
- Oh, I don't.

I'll tell Pieter
you asked after him.



You've heard?

I heard.

No smoke without fire,
they say.

- Is that what you think?
- No.

You're only a maid,
what can you do?

- I must get back.
- Don't walk away. Listen to me.

Just remember who you are.

Don't get caught up
in his world.

I am only a maid,

but I would never give in
to Master Van Ruijven.

I wasn't talking
about Van Ruijven.

Ah, you girl, Griet.

Come here.

What were you doing today?
I missed you.

We both did.

I hear you've been of great use
to your master, pretty Griet.

All that grinding and stirring, eh?

Master and maid.

It's a tune we all know.

And you can practice together now
that we've made our bargain. Eh, Jan?

You won't forget, will you?


- What should I...?
- No.

No. I already... already begun
a group painting.

You're not to sit with Master
Van Ruijven, that much is agreed.

Thank you, sir.

I'm to paint you alone.

My daughter must not hear
of this other painting in her condition.

It's to hang
in his private cabinet.

He's no fool,
mind you.

An he won't be taken for one,
so don't think otherwise.

You're a fly in his web.

We all are.

You've to admit, my friend,
French swords are the best.

Tomorrow morning.

I cannot, I have work.

Find a way.

The front of your cap,
fold it back.

Take off your cap.

No, sir.

I cannot.


I will not.

I need to see
your face.

The cap covers too much.

There's some cloth
in the storeroom.

You know, I've a mind to go up there
one day and surprise him

in the act.

But you said yourself
it's very dull.

Oh, not with Emilie

when he's alone with some
young beauty.

Have you ever notice how
he never bothers with old women?

Only the young pretty ones.

On their own.

You'll have to wait then.

He makes only one painting
at a time.

Is that so?


My necklace.

Haven't you finished yet?

I'll be in my studio
until dinner.

Open your mouth.


Open your mouth.


Now lick your lips.



Got you, got you, got you!

Wear these.


Look, Griet.

Point of light in the shadow of the neck
leading the eye.



- Do not ask this of me.
- It's needed.

The composition,
it's not balanced.

I've seen you paint
with no one there.

You want me to imagine
how the earring would look?

My ears are not pierced.

She'll find out.

This has to be, Griet.

See for yourself.

You looked inside me.

I've got you!

Now hold still.
I want to look at you.

Now, girl...

tell me how you get on
up there.

Has he found his composition?

Do you move him?
Do you inspire him?

Tell me, has the master's brush
unlocked the secrets of your heart?

Ripe as a plum...
still unplucked.

What's he playing at?

He made a bargain with me.
He's painting you at my pleasure.

- No!
- I've waited long enough.

What a great fool he is.

Don't fight.

No! No!


Not a word.

You'll lose your place.

He won't look at you again.


Ah, there you are, my dear.

The maid
kept me talking with some...

cock and bull story.

Well, girl?

What's to be done?

Master Van Ruijven
wants his paintings...

and he will bear no more delay.

If he crosses Van Ruijven over this...

he will lose him.

Then what?

My daughter is out for the day.

Do it now.

You do it.

Look at me.

Now turn your head,
not your shoulders.

Look at me.

There, that's it.

I'll see you later.

Don't rush away,
Griet, please.

Leave the house.

Join me and Paul
in the meat market.

- I must get back.
- I'll fetch your things,

I'll send someone.


Our own life, Griet...
answering to no one.

Marry me.

Laughing at me
in my own house.

I will see for myself.
No one will stop me.

There is nothing to see.
You're making yourself ridiculous.

Calm, my dear.

I will not be calm!

Am I a child?!

Does no one speak the truth to me
in my own house?

By all the saints, if you would stop
screaming for a moment, I can explain.

More lies?!

I don't want to hear
any more of your lies, Mother.

I have a right to know.


No more hiding now.

Here I am.

I want to see this painting.

There's no point.

No point?!

I am too stupid to look
at a painting now?

She can't read!
You know that?

Sit down.
You'll exhaust yourself.

Why can't I look?

It's just a commission. Gone
in a few days. You need never see it.

They are just paintings.

Pictures, for money.
They mean nothing.

Is it true she wore my pearls?

How could you?

How could you?

Show me this painting.

You'll make yourself ill.

You show me.

It's obscene.

Why don't you paint me?

Because you don't understand!

And she does?

Get out of here!

Get out of my house!

I've come
to the right place, then.


This is for you.