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A Play of Light and Shadow!,
This review is from: Girl With A Pearl Earring  [DVD] (DVD)
Long ago, I lived in Amsterdam, and one of the things I recall so vividly--besides the icy October wind--was the cool intensity of the light that shimmered from the reflections of the canals, and it is the play of light and shadow that Johannes Vermeer captured in his paintings in the Netherlands' city of Delft.
Although "The Girl with a Pearl Earring," based on a novel that imagines the artist's inspiration for his eponymous masterpiece, is minimalist in its approach to narrative, its cinematography, which cannot be faulted, puts the viewer in the centre of a Vermeer painting. It is certainly worth viewing for anyone who is interested in art history, or life in seventeenth-century Netherlands, as viewed in one of Vermeer's paintings. The contrast between the cool blue tinges of the servants' quarters and the warm shades of the household, with its Turkish carpeted table coverings, wood-panelled and whitewashed walls, is startling.
Some of the most interesting scenes show the artist cutting and mixing his pigments; they also demonstrate (but do not explain) his reliance on the camera obscura--the box with a lens that reflected the images that he painted and which is said to have emphasised contrast between light and shadow.
The acting is underplayed (Colin Firth at his broodiest; and Scarlett Johansson as the mute victim of class and society) to such an extent that some viewers might find it on the soporific side, especially given the lack of attention to plot or development of character, but the magnificence of the visual details more than compensates.
Just sit back and enjoy this visual feast.