Girl with a Pearl Earring (soundtrack)

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Girl with a Pearl Earring: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Girl with a Pearl Earring soundtrack.png
Soundtrack album by Alexandre Desplat
Released 10 February 2004 (2004-02-10)
Recorded 19–23 July 2003
Studio Sony Studios, London
Length 50:31
Label Decca
Alexandre Desplat chronology
Girl with a Pearl Earring: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Girl with a Pearl Earring: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is the soundtrack album to the 2003 film Girl with a Pearl Earring starring Scarlett Johansson, Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson, Cillian Murphy and Judy Parfitt. It was composed by French film composer Alexandre Desplat.

Desplat was a veteran of primarily French films since the early 1990s. His work for Girl with a Pearl Earring raised his international profile as his breakout score in Hollywood; it led to a prominent career composing major films like The King's Speech (2010) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). The soundtrack received nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score and the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music.

Development and composition[edit]

"Period music can be a trap. That's the one advantage to being the last person to see the completed film, as usually I am. I see with fresh eyes what's already there on the screen and I take its pulse. So if a film is set in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century I can see how far the costumes and production design and the dialogue already tell the audience that".
– Alexandre Desplat[1]

The musical score to the film Girl with a Pearl Earring was written by the French composer Alexandre Desplat.[2] Desplat had to work quickly when composing his score, and sought to avoid creating "a period, baroque score", as he felt that genre could "be a trap".[1] According to Desplat, the film's director Peter Webber wished to avoid making a period film, believing the story was timeless. Desplat thought the use of choirs and baroque-like instrumentations "seemed too obvious" for the film.[3] To Desplat, the film's story depicted the repression felt between the two main characters. "The music had to reflect that, so it couldn't be too busy", Desplat said.[3]

Recording his score at Abbey Road, Desplat employed a large string orchestra with piano, woodwinds, celeste, and brass instruments.[3][4] In his entry for The Encyclopedia of Film Composers, Thomas Hischak felt the score exhibits Desplat's "classical side", for a composer known to employ many different musical influences in his work.[5] Danny Graydon of the film magazine Empire notes a central theme which "dominates the score, appearing in a variety of instrumental forms, including solo piano and violin. Elsewhere, Desplat creates a captivating atmosphere of cautious emotion and wonderment, the true highlight being 'Colour In The Clouds', so simply majestic that it really captures the heart of the story".[4]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Empire4/5 stars[4]

Girl with a Pearl Earring was Deplat's breakout score in Hollywood, despite it being his 50th production as composer.[6] Desplat had contributed musical scores to primarily French films since the early 1990s but his score for Girl with a Pearl Earring raised his international profile, leading to a prominent career composing major films such as The King's Speech (2010), Godzilla (2014), and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014).[5][7][8] The album was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score[9] and the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music.[10]

In a 2004 interview, the film's director, Peter Webber commented that Desplat "has done a fantastic job. He's quite rightly been nominated for a Golden Globe. Music is a difficult trick to pull off, because the wrong score could have dragged this film down. Alexander [sic] did the opposite".[11] Writing for The New York Times, Elvis Mitchell described the score as "gorgeous" which "brushes in a haunted gloom that gives the picture life where none seems to exist".[12] Danny Graydon from Empire called the score "a supremely elegant work that should gain him much-deserved attention on the international stage".[4]

Track listing[edit]

All music composed by Alexandre Desplat.

1."Girl with a Pearl Earring"2:18
2."Griet's Theme"4:07
3."A New Life"3:06
4."Master's House"3:16
5."Camera Obscura"1:33
6."The Birth Feast"2:46
8."Vermeer's Studio"3:09
9."Winter Nights"2:08
10."Van Ruijven"3:32
12."Colours in the Clouds"3:28
13."The Master Is Painting"2:07
14."By the Canal with Pieter"1:46
15."Catharina's Pearls"1:23
16."Colours in the Clouds" (strings)3:27
17."Girl with a Pearl Earring" (reprise)2:19
18."Silence and Light" (piano solo)1:40
19."Griet's Theme" (reprise)4:19
20."Griet Remembers"1:09


  1. ^ a b Dowd, Vincent (10 December 2014). "How Alexandre Desplat creates a film score in three weeks". BBC News. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  2. ^ Goldwasser, Dan (January 2006). "Interview". Soundtrack.Net. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Guerin, Ada (11 November 2003). "Alexandre Desplat: 'Girl With a Pearl Earring' Lions Gate release date: Dec. 12 (limited)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 24 June 2015 – via HighBeam Research. (Subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ a b c d Graydon, Danny. "Girl With a Pearl Earring". Empire. Archived from the original on 6 March 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Hischak 2015, p. 174.
  6. ^ Appelo, Tim (24 February 2014). "'Philomena' composer Alexandre Desplat at Polo Lounge: Ban temp tracks, 'capture the soul of a film'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  7. ^ Burlingame, Jon (5 November 2014). "Billion dollar composer: Alexandre Desplat has ears of world's top auteurs". Variety. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  8. ^ Hammond, Pete (23 November 2011). "Composer Alexandre Desplat is music to Oscar's ears again this season". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  9. ^ Burlingame, Jon (7 January 2007). "Thinking in colors and textures, then writing in music". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 September 2013. 
  10. ^ "Anthony Asquith Award for Original Film Music in 2004". British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). Retrieved 18 July 2015. 
  11. ^ Grandon, Marisol (15 January 2004). "'On set, Scarlett would tear strips off Colin'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 June 2015. 
  12. ^ Mitchell, Elvis (12 December 2003). "Girl With a Pearl Earring (2003) film review". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 June 2015.