My husband and I watched the drama Tulip Fever last summer at the Open Air Cinema in Düsseldorf (“Alltours Cinema” since 2017, and before that also “Commerz Real Cinema” or “Frankenheim Open Air Cinema”) It was our first evening out without children since the little one was born (so October 2016!). A great moment, the evening should be something special. I had booked the tickets for the premiere of tulip fever about two weeks before in the hope of good weather. Since I love history films, my husband and I love tulips and Amsterdam, i like to see lead actress Alicia Vikander, the movie seemed perfect to me. Of course the weather forecast for this evening was really bad with rain on that day. However we drove to the bank of the river and wanted to get away from the bad weather forecast. We are not made of sugar. And as if by magic the sun came through, pushing away the gray clouds and leaving us to enjoy a spectacular sun sunset. It stayed dry for the whole evening. It was our first time in the open air cinema and we were pleasantly surprised: everything was very well organized and the audience was neat. Once you enter, you get a rubber band sign so you can reserve seats and go for some food or drinks.
Big disappointment for me however: there was no popcorn. Cinema without popcorn? I did not understand since there was a large offer to buy all other kind of sweet and salty snacks. Next time I would smuggle a bag of popcorn into my handbag.
Now for the movie, which is based on the book of the same name by Deborah Moggach (who incidentally also wrote the script for Pride and Prejudice in 2005 and even made a brief guest appearance in Tulip Fever as a pipe-smoking and beer-drinking woman):
The plot takes place in Amsterdam in the Golden Age (Dutch de Gouden Eeuw) – a prosperous economic and cultural boom in the Netherlands that spans around the 17th century and is unprecedented in the history of art. At the height of the Golden Age around 1650, around 700 painters worked in the Netherlands, finishing around 70,000 paintings a year. Such a painting output is unprecedented in the history of art, neither in the Italian Renaissance nor in France at the time of Impressionism has such a thing. In total, the Dutch painters produced several million paintings, which is why you can now find Dutch paintings in almost every museum of ancient art.¹
Tulips have been a collector’s item since their introduction to the Netherlands in the second half of the 16th century. They were cultivated in the gardens of the upper social classes of educated bourgeoisie, scholars and aristocracy. To the relations of these lovers based on barter trade at the end of the 16. Century the commercial trade with tulips added. In the 1630s, the price of tulip bulbs rose to a relatively high level before the market collapsed abruptly at the beginning of February 1637. At times, a single tulip bulb was worth more than a whole house in downtown Amsterdam. Incidentally, tulip mania is regarded as the first relatively well-documented speculative bubble in economic history.²
Against this backdrop, the story of the beautiful merchant’s wife Sophia (Alicia Vikander) and the painter Jan (Dane DeHaan) is told, who after a long resistance from Sophia’s side start an affair. Together with Sophia’s maid Maria, the lovers forge a pretty dangerous and presumptuous plan to leave the city and put everything on a map. However, they do not expect the unthinkable: that the tulip market will collapse one day. I really felt sorry for Sophia’s husband, the tulip dealer Cornelis Sandvoort (played by Christoph Waltz). Judi Dench plays an abbess and the supermodel Cara Delivigne has a short guest appearance as a whore. More I do not want to tell about the plot, in case you like to watch the movie. I think the pictures, costumes and music were beautiful. However, the comic moments in the plot really bothered me personally. Instead, I would have liked more drama and insight into the history of the tulip trade. Painter Jan was in my opinion not the perfect match for Sophia, or he did not seem quite believable in his role. And once again, I was sure that the film in the original sound would have been three times better, which is why I give you this trailer in English below.
By the way we love white parrot tulips the most – which is your favorite?
¹Source: Page “Golden Age (Netherlands)” in: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, as of: February 8, 2018, 09:47 UTC. URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php? title = Golden_Time_ (Netherlands) & oldid = 173780604 (Retrieved: February 13, 2018, 11:52 UTC)
² Source: page “Tulpenmanie” in: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, as of: 25th October 2017, 17:18 UTC URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tulpenmanie&oldid= 170320528 (accessed: February 13, 2018, 11:57 UTC)