Episode 89: Peter Webber’s Girl With a Pearl Earring (2003)

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In this episode, I talk about Peter Webber’s 2003 film “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” It’s an adaptation of the 1999 Tracy Chevalier novel by the same name, which imagines how Johannes Vermeer’s 17th century painting, “Girl with a Pearl Earring” came to be. It’s 1665 in Delft, Holland and a young girl named Griet goes to work at the home of the Vermeers to provide for her family after her father is injured at work. She enters a home rocked by domestic and financial instability. When Vermeer starts to paint Griet to appease his lecherous patron, more drama ensues as Vermeer’s wife becomes jealous and the attraction between Vermeer and Griet intensifies. I discuss the profound impact that both the book and the film had on my life because it sparked my deeper engagement with art. For this episode, I talk about Johannes Vermeer’s life and art, and I explain why I think the film is so powerful in the way that it centers the life of a teenage girl who is a maid, explores the difficulties of women’s lives in the 17th century, and shows the power of art to expand and enrich our minds.

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