» From Page to Screen
» The Inspiration
» The Director-Peter Webber
» Griet-Scarlett Johansson
» Vermeer-Colin Firth
» Pieter-Cillian Murphy
» Re-creating Vermeer's World - Design and Cinematography
» In Conclusion
» About the Cast
» About the Filmmakers
From Page to Screen
Producer Andy Paterson and his wife, screenwriter Olivia Hetreed, read Girl With A Pearl Earring in manuscript a few months before its initial publication. "It was a rare treat. I read it in one sitting, almost without breathing" says Hetreed. "I fell in love with Griet; her quiet certainty, her determination to be free in a world where that was almost impossible for a girl from her background" adds Paterson. "The domestic setting is deceptive. I saw it as a cinematic thriller from the start. And I loved the way Tracy had taken the few known facts about Vermeer and created a perfect story about the girl who inspired the painting."
Paterson and his producing partner Anand Tucker (director of Archer Street's Oscar-nominated Hilary and Jackie) set about persuading author Tracy Chevalier to sell them the film rights. Though no-one could have predicted what a worldwide success it was about to become, there were already other producers interested. "They were a good double act" Hetreed recalls, "They convinced me they would be true to the spirit of the book."
"Tracy was concerned that a film might turn out to be a Hollywood melodrama, Hetreed continues, but we were able to assure her that we wanted to capture the story she had written. And specifically that Griet and Vermeer would not end up in carnal bliss - we knew the erotic power of the story lay in the fact that there could be no consummation."
Hetreed worked with the producers on a treatment for the film. "The book is so visual, so cinematic, a story all about seeing and painting, appearances and reality, yet the voice of the novel is in Griet's head," says Hetreed. "I didn't want to use voiceover; it felt too modern, too self-conscious, so the challenge was to find a different way to bring that inner voice to the screen. "Hetreed and Tracy Chevalier got on well from the start. "We became electronic penpals" says Hetreed. "For me Tracy is the ideal author; sharing research, positive about the transformation wrought on her work and yet able to step back and allow me a free hand." For Chevalier, "Olivia understood it all so well and was able to develop themes further than I had taken them. She did some things I wish I had done myself in the novel." The relationship became so strong that during the film's post-production the two travelled to the Banff Television Festival to present a Masterclass on adaptation. Both writers felt as though they had been "inside each other's heads".
The painting, Girl With A Pearl Earring, hangs permanently in the Mauritshuis, in The Hague, in Holland. It is believed to have been painted in 1665/6, but the true identity of its subject is unknown. Tracy Chevalier had a poster of it on her bedroom wall since she was nineteen. "I was lying in bed one morning, contemplating the girl's face, when suddenly I thought, `What did Vermeer do to her to make her look like that, happy and sad at the same time?' Within three days I had the whole story worked out. It was effortless; I could see, it all in her face. Vermeer had done all my work for me."
Says Paterson, "The story Tracy created perfectly fits the few known facts of Vermeer's world; his family and financial woes, his dependence on a patron, a fascination with the camera obscura. A lovely example of how she used her research is the sequence where Griet moves the chair. X-Rays reveal that there was indeed a chair in the painting Woman With A Water Jug, but Vermeer painted it out. Tracy took that idea and used it to drive Griet's character and build her relationship with Vermeer. So the novel is a fantasy, but it feels so authentic. I have had conversations with heavyweight art experts who now talk of Griet as if she really existed - that's the ultimate tribute to Tracy's work. When we approached the Mauritshuis, the owners of the painting, they were supportive of the project, and of course thrilled that in Scarlett we had an actress who embodied the girl in the painting."
The producers asked Peter Webber to direct the film. Paterson explains that "although this is Peter's feature film debut, we had already worked with him for several years, first as an editor (he edited Anand Tucker's first drama Saint-Ex) and then as a documentary director - covering a diverse range of subjects from Crash Test Dummies to Wagner." His first dramas included the controversial "Men Only" for Channel Four, charting a five-a-side football team's decline into debauchery and sexual violence. "Peter was always going to make movies"" says Paterson. "His knowledge of cinema is enviable, and it took no time at all for actors of the caliber of Colin Firth, Scarlett Johansson and Tom Wilkinson to decide they wanted to work with him. Peter, Olivia and I all started out in the cutting room and we share a fascination with the nature of story-telling on film. "
For Webber, who had studied art history and was already fascinated by Vermeer, the story has the essential elements for drama, money, sex and power. He says, 'Vermeer lived in a household full of noise and chaos. He was under huge financial pressure to paint more and faster, to feed his family. Yet his paintings achieve such tranquility. I was thrilled by how Tracy's story reflected his work, how the intimate, the understated, somehow becomes epic. Griet's predicament is heartbreaking. The repressed romantic obsession that builds between Griet and Vermeer inspires him to paint her - but the perfection of that painting will lead to her downfall. She knows he will be ruthless, understands that their relationship must be sacrificed if the choice is between her and a truly great work. That understanding is, after all, what drew him to her in the first place. The legacy of her time with Vermeer is one of the greatest pictures ever painted."
Griet - Scarlett Johansson
Casting the role of Griet, a seventeen year old girl from a sheltered home in 17th Century Holland was always going to be a challenge. Says Paterson, "it was clear this was an extraordinary role for a young girl and we had a huge amount of interest. The first time we met Scarlett she was a New York City teenager on her way to a basketball game. Second time round, she had become Griet."
"Scarlett has been working in this business longer than I have," says Webber, "and although she is young in years she has an old soul. She has a force of character and a face that you don't often see on screen these days - she is hypnotic to watch, like a silent movie star."
Scarlett Johansson found the script immediately absorbing and beautifully written. She explains, "it is so rare that you read anything that is worth the time it takes to get through it. This stood out - it was glinting. Every actor dreams of the chance to play a role like Griet - a character with such repression that you are using your face and not your words to convey emotions." Johansson took the opportunity while filming in Delft to visit the Mauritshuis Museum to see the real painting, Girl With A Pearl Earring. "She is strange and intriguing. I felt she was just about to do something which would tell us more about her and her life," she says. Playing Griet, Johansson was able to empathize with her hardships. "A servant's life was hard labor, and Griet was also trying to cope with new raw emotions. We first see her at home, which she doesn't want to leave, but she has to and is immediately out of her element. She has no privacy - Vermeer's wife Catharina is vicious and unrelenting; the other maid is resentful; Maria Thins is always watching her; and Vermeer lurks in his studio, refusing to engage with the rest of the household. At the same time her relationship with her home is changing - she is torn between two lives." But Vermeer senses a connection with Griet. He realises she sees physical things the way he does, and gradually allows her to become involved in his work. "Their relationship becomes tender, through their mutual involvement in his paintings," explains Johansson. "At the same time she is becoming involved with Pieter, the son of the market butcher. He is a tradesman, goes to Church every Sunday and offers an enticingly simple way of life that is familiar to her. He offers a mutual courtship that she could so easily slip into, if she had not met Vermeer. With the painter she tastes a kind of passion that is beyond her comprehension, and casts a shadow on her previous life."
Johansson hopes that GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING will send the cinema audience away with some kind of bittersweet feeling of hope, while recognizing that some of the most romantic feelings you have in your life come to nothing. She says, "The raw emotion of a girl who is in love and not able to express it is universal, because very often you can't have what you love."
Vermeer - Colin Firth
Colin Firth had not read the book when Paterson and Webber approached him to play the artist Johannes Vermeer, but read the script and quickly accepted the role. He says, "It felt refreshing. It takes itself seriously, which is not a popular position in most films - it is safer to have your tongue in cheek these days." He regarded the role as an acting challenge. "Not a lot of big things happen on the surface; the action is minimal, finely focussed drama, which must be made interesting by the characters." He adds. "This has a parallel with the work of Vermeer."
Firth was intrigued by the man himself. "Not a lot is known about him. He painted what modern critics could regard as cliches - images reflecting the conventions of the time. But there is an even-handed moral kindness in those paintings, showing humanity in equal terms to one another, whether milkmaid or mistress. Of the 35 paintings known today, about 20 were painted in the same corner of the same room. He lived in a lively household - eleven of his children survived, but he painted serenity in his first floor studio. In 17th Century Delft artists were craftsmen who took their civic duties seriously - they served apprenticeships, and had a union to protect their economic rights. Long before the cult of the tortured rebellious artist took over, it was perfectly possible to be a good citizen and husband and also be a great artist."
In the film, Vermeer's studio is a quiet retreat from a noisy household. Says Firth, "He is resigned to being surrounded by people who don't understand what he does, and keeps his world separate. When he does allow someone in for the first time he is intrigued that Griet has an eye for color and composition and forms a mysterious bond across a vast barrier of class and age. He is sometimes pleased with what she has done, and sometimes rejects it. He attempts to distance himself from intimacy - it is too complicated for him. He doesn't allow himself to focus on the foreground of paintings or feelings for long, and so he doesn't find the same level of engagement each time they meet. So the relationship becomes tortuous for both of them."
Although Firth researched the man and his paintings thoroughly, he did not learn to paint. "At my level of talent it was almost pointless," he explains, "but what I can do is imagine that I can paint, and convince others to imagine that I can. I hold a brush and mix paints to look as if I know what I am doing. Besides, probably a great painter and a terrible painter look the same holding a brush."
Firth found Peter Webber keen to explore the effect of different nuances on scenes. "Where a script is so affected by tone, a change of emphasis can completely change the direction of a scene." The actor points out parallels between filming, and the work of Vermeer. "If you look at x-rays of his paintings, you can see that he was prepared to begin with one idea and then throw that away. This can happen on a film set. Working with a crew is a huge collaborative effort. Everyone arrives in the morning and the challenge of the day is to give life to the written word, but you have to be prepared to change the ideas you brought with you that morning, in order to keep the energy and carry the room. If you are in tune, you can feel that moment. It's palpable."
Firth emphasises that the film is not an art lesson. "It's an exploration of how powerful a relationship can be - like the intimacy between artist and model. A painting is unveiled and disrupts a family."
Pieter - Cillian Murphy
Irish actor Cillian Murphy takes the role of Pieter, the butcher's son who courts Griet. "He is a simple soul," explains Murphy," and spends much of the film trying to catch and hold Griet's attention. He represents the life she would have expected to have, until she meets Vermeer. An alliance between Pieter and Griet would be ordinary, whereas one between Vermeer and Griet would be considered extraordinary. These people are trapped in the lives set out for them." Murphy was attracted to the idea of playing the foil to Vermeer's world, to show the audience the world that Griet is reacting against. As research he spent time in a slaughterhouse, learning to hack meat convincingly, and had to practice carrying an eviscerated pig. "At that time, painting was a craft and butchery a trade. Although there is a class distinction, mainly because the painter earns more than the butcher, both are professions, carried out with passion and belief. Pieter believes in what he does, and he is good at it, so he is happy with himself, and recognizes that Griet may settle for that." he says.
GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING is Cillian Murphy's first period film and he praises Peter Webber's approach to the genre. "He sees right to the core of the piece, and deals with the emotions and contradictions of the characters. I had been worried that I would get bogged down in historical details, but the production's commitment to getting things right was a huge help to providing the feeling of the period, so that you can concentrate on the role. The script is so complex and deeply layered - a page turner where you can't guess what happens to her."
Re-creating Vermeer's World - Design and Cinematography
"The scene is a familiar room, nearly always the same, its unseen door is closed to the restless movement of the household, the window open to the light. Here a domestic world is refined to purity."
Lawrence Gowing: "Vermeer. "
"The look of the period is, of course, very well documented in the extraordinary paintings of the Golden Age of 17th century Holland," says production designer Ben van Os. "We conceived Vermeer's house to give us that sense of frames within frames so familiar from the paintings; a passageway leading from the canalside into the courtyard and the ground floor rooms connected by open doorways, leading the eye through the house to give a feeling of space - and lack of privacy. Griet should always feel watched."
"Peter (Webber) and I also felt that many of the paintings gave an idealized view. We took the decision to introduce a gritty reality, particularly to the exterior scenes - filling the streets with livestock and mud."
The interiors were divided into three distinct worlds. Griet's family home is a monochrome ordered Calvinistic abode in the poorer quarter; the Vermeer family lives in lurid Catholic chaos with lots of paintings on the walls (Vermeer was also a dealer who sold the work of others) and the vivid colors of popery; his rich patron Van Ruijven's world is opulent, with curiosities from around the world. This is where the real power lies.
"I wanted the Vermeer house to be chaotic - downstairs" says Webber. "The house was full of children and noise. It looked out onto a canal which must have been very smelly. The main square with its taverns and markets was just half a block away. Yet Vermeer created; paintings which seem to define tranquility and perfection. So we were determined that the studio, the room that contained that familiar, almost holy corner represented in so many of the great paintings, should be the magical space. Up there is Vermeer's private world - a world which he gradually allows Griet to share because she alone understands why it is special. Ben built gorgeous sets, but he is also a great set dresser, making the world believable, lived in and totally convincing."
Cinematographer Eduardo Serra used different film stocks for the different worlds, capturing the rich dark colors of the downstairs of Vermeer's house and saving something for the painter's studio.
"The shooting schedule worked in such a way that we saved Vermeer's studio for last" remembers Paterson. "One day I was watching the stunning footage from elsewhere in the Vermeer house and reminded Eduardo of the earlier discussions about saving such beauty for the studio. He nodded that he hadn't forgotten. And when I saw what he did in the studio, it was breathtaking. He took it to another level altogether." "Eduardo's work was quite extraordinary" adds Webber. "He had decided how he wanted every frame to be lit and seemed able to achieve it almost instantly."
Dien van Straalen's costumes were the final element in creating an authentic world. "Most of the time you should hardly be noticing the costumes," says Webber. "Great costume designers make clothes that actors feel comfortable in, and it helps create the feeling that you are inhabiting a real world. Catharina's costumes are exquisite and showy because that's who she is, but even she has to wear the same dress on a number of occasions to reflect the financial burdens of the family. Dien's triumph was to create costumes that subconsciously help in the telling of the story."
The filmmakers never underestimated the challenges of bringing a muchloved novel to the screen. "Reading a book is a private pleasure. Film is a different medium, but we hoped that the millions of fans of the novel would get something more out of the film, something that would reflect their imagination. We wanted to make the film because it is a wonderful, mysterious, romantic story, set in the 17th Century, but accessible to anyone today. Tracy's story cried out to be brought to life - and we couldn't have dreamed of a more creative, talented, passionate team of people both in front of and behind the camera to help us realize it."
ABOUT THE CAST
COLIN FIRTH (Vermeer)
A classically trained British theater actor, Colin Firth is a veteran of numerous television and film roles. In 2001, he charmed American audiences when he starred opposite Renee Zellwegger in the hit British comedy Bridget Jones's Diary. In the film he portrayed Mark Darcy, the man who rivaled Hugh Grant for Bridget's affections. He is infamous for his breakout role in 1995, when he played Mr. Darcy in the BBC adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" for which he received a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor and legions of female admirers.
In November, he will be seen in the Universal film Love Actually, written and directed by Richard Curtis (About a Boy and Notting Hill). Colin appears in the film with an outstanding ensemble cast including Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson and Laura Linney.
Firth was recently seen in the Warner Brothers film What a Girl Wants, opposite Kelly Preston and Amanda Bynes. In June, he wrapped production on Warner Brothers' psychological thriller Trauma, opposite Mena Suvari.
In 2002, Firth was seen starring opposite Rupert Everett and Reese Witherspoon in the Miramax Film, The Importance of Being Earnest. In 1998, Firth starred in Shakespeare In Love, where he portrayed Lord Wessex, the evil husband to Gwyenth Paltrow's character. In 1997, he starred in A Thousand Acres, with Michelle Pfeiffer and Jessica Lange, and in 1996, The English Patient, opposite Kristen Scott Thomas and Ralph Fiennes. His other film credits include Hope Springs, Relative Values, My Life So Far, The Secret Laughter of Women, Fever Pitch, Circle of Friends, Playmaker, and the title role in Valmont.
In 1989, he received the Royal Television Society Best Actor Award as well as a BAFTA nomination for his work in the TV production "Tumbledown." He was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2001 for Outstanding Supporting Actor in the critically acclaimed HBO film "Conspiracy." His other television credits include "Windmills on the Clyde: Making Donovan Quick," "Donovan Quick," "The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd," "Deep Blue Sea," "Hostages," and the mini-series "Nostromo." His London stage debut was in the West End production of ANOTHER COUNTRY playing Benett. He was then chosen to play the character Judd in the 1984 film adaptation opposite Rupert Everett.
Colin Firth resides in London, England with his wife.
SCARLETT JOHANNSON (Griet)
A veteran of fifteen films, Scarlett Johannson celebrated her eighteenth birthday during the filming of GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING. She made her stage debut off-Broadway at the age of eight, having studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute for Young People.
Her leading role in Robert Redford's The Horse Whisperer earned her a Hollywood Reporter Young Star Award and she received the Independent Spirit Best. Subsequent roles, including Ghost World, the Coen Brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There and Eight Legged Freaks, confirmed her extraordinary screen presence.
She will next be seen in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation and the Paramount comedy, Perfect Score.
TOM WILKINSON (Van Ruijven)
Already established as a stage and screen actor in Britain, Tom Wilkinson first made an impression on American audiences as "Mr Dashwood" in Ang Lee's Academy Award-winning adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. This was followed by a totally different but wholly memorable performance as the steel work supervisor turned male stripper in The Full Monty, in which he received a BAFTA nomination.
Following roles have included the romantic lead in The Governess opposite Minnie Driver, a comic role as "the money" in the multi-award-winning Shakespeare in Love (receiving a second BAFTA nomination), and his portrayal of a grief-stricken husband and father in Todd Field's In The Bedroom opposite Sissy Sissy Spacek for which he received an Oscar nomination, a SAG Award nomination and an Independent Film Award for Best Actor.
He next starred in "Normal" for HBO Films opposite Jessica Lange for which he received stellar reviews and an Emmy nomination.
Tom Wilkinson will next be seen on the big screen in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, written by Charlie Kaufmann, co-starring alongside Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet; If Only, Gil Junger's romantic comedy, with Jennifer Love Hewitt; White on White directed by Roger Spottiswood along-side Willem Dafoe and Alan Cummings; and Compleat Female Stage Beauty directed by Richard Eyre co-starring Billy Crudup and Claire Danes.
CILLIAN MURPHY (Pieter)
Irish actor Cillian Murphy is the star of the successful 28 Days Later, directed by Trainspotting's Danny Boyle. He first made his mark with his stunning performance in Disco Pigs, both in the award-winning stage show and the film version, directed by Kirsten Sheridan.
His major film and television credits include John Carney's On The Edge, William Boyd's The Trench, "The Ambassador" for BBC TV, and most recently in one of the lead role in the BBC drama series "The Way We Live Now."
Murphy's short film The Watchman, which he co-wrote with Paloma Beaza was short-listed for the Turner Classic Movie Short Award.
His next major screen appearance will be in Anthony Minghella's epic Cold Mountain.
Cillian is currently playing Constantin in the film The Seagull, directed by Peter Stein and is at this year's International Edinburgh Festival. He will next play the character of Gary in the film Red Light Runners, with Harvey Kietel and Michael Madison.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
PETER WEBBER - Director
A self-confessed cinephile, Peter Webber made his first short film, The Zebra Man, straight out of film school then worked as a film editor, beginning his association with producers Andy Paterson and Anand Tucker on Tucker's drama debut, Saint Ex, starring Miranda Richardson and Bruno Ganz.
As an award-winning documentary director his subjects ranged from Wagner to crash test dummies via a series on the creatures of the deep oceans and The Curse of the Phantom Limb.
Moving back into drama he directed Simon Russell Beale as Schubert and explored the counter-culture of tunnel-dwelling road protesters in Underground, before creating huge controversy with the Channel Four miniseries, Men Only, charting the decline into crime and del~auchery of the formerly respectable members of a five-a-side soccer team. In the interests of fair play, his next drama The Stretford Wives, for the BBC , starred Fay Ripley in a tale of women's revenge on men.
To confirm his eclectic tastes and versatility, Webber's next film will take him away from Vermeer's Holland to the gritty world of young pickpockets, grifting in the heart of contemporary London.
ANDY PATERSON - Producer
Andy Paterson's productions include the Oscar-nominated Hilary and Jackie, starring Emily Watson and Rachel Griffiths, and the Oscar-winning Restoration, starring Robert Downey Jr, Hugh Grant and Meg Ryan. With Restoration and GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING, he is probably the only producer in history to have made two major feature films set in 1665, a distinction he could not have foreseen as he commenced a physics degree, at Oxford University in the early 1980's.
His time at Oxford coincided with director Michael Hoffman, (with whom he would go on to make five films), screenwriter Olivia Hetreed (who would become his wife), and Hugh Grant. Together they made their first feature film, the $40,000 Privileged, which was released theatrically in the UK and US and launched many careers.
In 1990 he and Nick Kent produced the BAFTA winning documentary series Naked Hollywood and formed Oxford Television Company which would go on to become a major force in British factual television. After Hilary and Jackie, Paterson, with director Anand Tucker and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce, decided to concentrate only on movies and started a new production company Archer Street Ltd.
As well as running the film side of the British producers' association, PACT, for three years, Paterson has co-produced two films with Icelandic director Agust Gudmundsson: Dansinn and The Seagull's Laughter which was Iceland's foreign language Oscar candidate in 2002.
ANAND TUCKER - Producer
Anand studied film at Harrow before securing a much-sought after place on the BBC's Production Trainee Scheme in 1990. He made several programmes for the BBC's Music And Arts department before leaving to join Andy Paterson's Oxford Films and Television Company in 1992. There he made a series of high profile documentaries including The Vampire's Life, on novelist Anne Rice, for which he was awarded the 1996 BAFTA Huw Wheldon Award for Best Arts Programme. His drama debut came with Saint-Ex, based on the life of Little Prince author and pioneering aviator Antoine de St Exupery. The film starred Bruno Ganz and Miranda Richardson. He went on to make the multi-award winning Hilary and Jackie for which Emily Watson and Rachel Griffiths received Oscar nominations. Tucker was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Director and won the British Independent Film Award in the same category.
Alongside his producing role at Archer Street, he will shortly direct Shopgirl starring Steve Martin and Clare Danes.
OLIVIA HETREED - Screenwriter
After reading English at Oxford University, and forming part of the small team that made Hugh Grant's first film, Privileged, Olivia worked as a film editor, cutting major dramas for television, including Michael Winterbottom's first full length drama, Forget About Me.
She then wrote the screenplays for several highly prestigious ITV dramas, including adaptations of The Canterville Ghost:, What Katy Did and E. Nesbitt's The Treasure Seekers.
After completing GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING, she wrote the first of BBC Television's series of contemporary stories based on The Canterbury Tales. The series will be the centrepiece of the BBC's autumn schedule, 2003.
She is currently adapting John Burnham Schwarz's novel Reservation Road for producers Andy Paterson and Anand Tucker.
TRACY CHEVALIER - Author
Tracy Chevalier was born in Washington DC and moved to England in 1984. She studied creative writing at the University of East Anglia where she was taught by novelists Malcolm Bradbury and Rose Tremain. Her first novel, Virgin Blue, was published in the UK in 1997 and will be re-released in the US in 2003.
She wrote Girl With A Pearl Earring during her pregnancy and delivered it two weeks before her son was born in October 1998.
Falling Angels, a poignant tale of two families brought reluctantly together and set around London's Highgate cemetery, was published in 2001 to critical acclaim.
Her latest novel, based on another famous artwork, is called The Lady and the Unicorn and will be published shortly.
EDUARDO SERRA - Director of Photography
For his work on lain Softley's Wings of the Dove, Eduardo Serra was nominated for an Oscar, and won the BAFTA award as well as being nominated by the British Society of Cinematographers.
In an international career spanning more than twenty years, Serra's credits include many films for directors Patrice Leconte - including The Hairdresser's Husband, for which he was nominated for a Cesar Award, and Claude Cabrol -- including his latest, The Flower Of Evil. Other award-winning films were Vincent Ward's Map of the Human Heart, for which he was nominated for an Australian Film Institute Award, Michael Winterbottom's Jude; for which he won a Silver Frog at the Camerimage Awards, and M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakeable.
BEN VAN OS - Production Designer
A longtime collaborator with Peter Greenaway, most notably on The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover and Belly of an Architect, Ben Van Os recently designed Max, Menno Meyjes film about Hitler's imagined struggle to be recognised as an artist in Munich after the Great War, starring John Cusack.
His other credits include Thomas Vinterberg's It's All About Love and Sally Potter's Orlando.
KATE EVANS - Editor
Kate has worked with director Peter Webber on his controversial Channel Four series Men Only and Stretford Wives, for the BBC. Previous credits include Roger Michell's Persuasion and Titanic Town, and the celebrated BBC series The Buddha Of Suburbia, based on Hanif Kureishi's scripts.
JENNY SHIRCORE - Make-Up & Hair Designer
Jenny's credits include Stephen Frears' Dirty Pretty Things, Neil Jordan's The Good Thief, Roger Michell's Notting Hill and Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth, for which she won an Oscar.
DIEN VAN STRAALEN - Costume Designer
Dien has collaborated with designer Ben van Os on several films including Orlando, and Peter Greenaway's The Pillow Book and The Baby of Macon. -Before GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING she completed Max, starring John Cusack and Noah Taylor
ALEXANDRE DESPLAT - Composer
Alexandre has scored more than 60 films, TV movies and documentaries over the last fifteen years. His last encounter with Colin Firth was on Miramax `s The Hour Of The Pig, in 1993. Director Peter Webber had wanted to work with him since hearing his work on Jacques Audiard's 2001 Read My Lips (Sur Mes Levres) starring Vincent Cassel. Other credits include Marleen Gorris' The Luzhin Defence starring Emily Watson and John Turturro.
JIMMY DE BRABANT -Co-Producer
Jimmy de Brabant is CEO of Luxembourg's Delux Productions. His productions include Peter Greenaway's The Pillow Book and Tulse Luper Suitcases, selected in Official Competition at Cannes in 2003, Marcus Adams' Octane, the Oscar-nominated Shadow of the Vampire starring John Malkovitch and American Werewolf in Paris.
JOHANNES VERMEER-(Painter) -1632-1675
The few known facts about the life of Johannes Vermeer come from legal documents - marriage and birth certificates; sales notes and letters of debts; the will of his patron.
Born in Delft in 1632, he was the son of innkeepers and spent all his life in this town of 25,000 people. In 1653 he converted to Catholicism and married Catharina Bolnes, a Catholic from a bourgeois family. They had eleven surviving children, and lived in the house of Maria Thins, Catharina's mother. Vermeer joined the Guild of St Luke as a master painter, having completed an apprenticeship and now able to work professionally as a painter. He was also a dealer, selling the paintings of other Delft artists.
Vermeer's studio was on the first floor of his mother-in-law's house and it is likely that most of his work was done here.
Vermeer's death in 1675, at the age of 43, was probably from a stroke or a heart attack, brought on by stress. His family was falling further and further into debt as the war between France and The Netherlands caused the collapse of the art market when the generous bourgeois patrons lost their own wealth, and the rent from Maria Thins' properties dried up.
Only 35 paintings attributed to Vermeer remain.