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Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama, Romance  |  30 January 2004 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 56,845 users   Metascore: 72/100
Reviews: 288 user | 160 critic | 37 from

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.



(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 16 wins & 39 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Chris McHallem ...
Gabrielle Reidy ...
Anaïs Nepper ...
Melanie Meyfroid ...
Nathan Nepper ...


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. Written by thexotherxchris

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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..... See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

30 January 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das Mädchen mit dem Perlenohrring  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$89,472 (USA) (12 December 2003)


$11,634,362 (USA) (30 April 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film was originally slated to star Kate Hudson and Ralph Fiennes and be directed by Mike Newell. Hudson pulled out during pre-production (allegedly because she refused to wear a wimple for the role), which resulted in funding being pulled, and by the time new funding was secured, Newell had to move on to another project. After a director search, Peter Webber was tapped for the job and held auditions for a new female lead. He settled on Kirsten Dunst, who then dropped the project in wake of Spider-Man (2002)'s success. At this point, Fiennes had been waiting so long that he too had to move on to other scheduled projects, and so too became unavailable. Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth were then cast. See more »


As Vermeer starts to paint Griet he is wearing a shirt that ties at the collar. At the easel it is tied loosely in a double knot baring some of his upper chest. When Griet goes into the storeroom and Vermeer follows and stares at her the strings of the shirt are now tied tightly to his neck. See more »


[first lines]
Griet's Mother: Griet! Leave that.
See more »


Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #22.19 (2005) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

visually stunning, though lacking in dramatic intensity
20 July 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Behind every picture there lies a story, and the film `Girl With a Pearl Earring' purports to give us the inside scoop into the making of Vermeer's classic painting of the same name. In the mid 1600's, a young, illiterate peasant girl named Griet came to live and work as a servant in the home of the promising, yet still financially struggling, Dutch master. Obsessed by her beauty, Vermeer insisted on using her as the subject for one of his works, much to the horror and chagrin of his jealous and shrewish wife. Despite the domestic havoc it caused, the collaboration between artist and subject resulted in one of the genuine masterpieces of the art world.

Visually, this film could not be more stunning. Thanks to luminous cinematography, art direction and costume design, the audience watching this film feels almost as if it has been transported into a Vermeer work. Director Peter Webber recreates every element of that world in loving detail, right down to his choice of actress Scarlett Johansson, who is a dead ringer for the model in the original portrait. Alexandre Desplat's score also captures the lyrical, haunting tenderness of the subject matter.

`Girl With a Pearl Earring' is a very fine movie in many respects, but it is ultimately unsatisfying because it cannot match in content what it achieves in style. Despite the exquisite look of the film, the characters seem strangely underdeveloped, most especially Vermeer himself, who remains frustratingly superficial throughout. Thanks mainly to his taciturn moodiness, we never get to know much of what he is thinking or feeling. The romantic moments between artist and subject are admirably restrained – and thereby all the more erotic in nature – but we do feel as if we would like to know more about him as a person. Griet is only slightly more fully developed, although, in her case, we can at least ascribe this lack of information to the restrictions placed on her by her station in life and the society of her time. Unlike Vermeer, Griet was conditioned by the world around her to be a passive observer. But Vermeer needs to be a more dynamic presence in the story.

One admires the fact that the filmmakers have remained truthful to the spirit of the enterprise, refusing to indulge in cheap melodramatics to make the story more salacious and scandalous than in truth it really was. Yet, in dramatic terms, such integrity comes with a price, for the film often has the effect of lulling rather than stimulating us, of raising our expectations then failing to fully satisfy them. Perhaps, in the case of this particular artwork, the story-behind-the-picture wasn't really all that interesting to begin with.

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Recent Posts
Scarlet's mouth made this movie unwatchable for me louisa-eggleton
WHY did they make this movie? mesaydayo
Thank goodness Kate Hudson and Kirsten Dunst pulled out ncmmorris
Why did they set this film in Italy? -; bminney
One of the best erotic non-sexual scenes... marga73
Earring Significance... LoreleiJones
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