Based in 17th century Amsterdam, Tulip Fever centres upon Sophia Sandervoot (Vikander), an orphaned young woman who was married off to a wealthy merchant, Cornelis Sandervoot (Waltz), in exchange for her siblings’ safe passage to America.
Cornelis commissions a young painter, Jan van Loos (Dane DeHaan), to paint their portrait, and the latter quickly becomes enamoured with Sophia.
They plan their new life together, using the unplanned pregnancy of Sophia’s handmaid, Maria (Holliday Grainger), to conceal their escape.
The film derives it’s name from ‘tulip mania’, a period in the Netherlands when people traded tulip bulbs to get rich quick, thereby narrating the tension between passion and responsibility.
The adaptation of novelist Deborah Moggach’s much loved book was first conceived in 2004, with Steven Spielberg set to produce and John Madden lined up to direct a Tom Stoppard script, featuring Jude Law and Keira Knightley as leads. But as England tightened its tax concessions, so began this film’s rocky journey to screen.
Harvey Weinstein scooped up production alongside Alison Owen for the eventual release of this highly anticipated film, boasting a beguiling narrative and timely theme.
The intertwining ‘tulip mania’ metaphor adds meatiness to the burden of morality versus desire paired with the inherent sense of right and wrong.
Stoppard has done Moggach’s novel justice, crafting an elegant and faithful script which preserves the playfulness of the market’s excesses, and the chancers who are caught up in it.
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