In 17th Century Amsterdam, an orphaned girl Sophia (Alicia Vikander) is forcibly married to a rich and powerful merchant Cornelis Sandvoort (Christoph Waltz) – an unhappy “arrangement” that saves her from poverty. After her husband commissions a portrait, she begins a passionate affair with the painter Jan Van Loos (Dane DeHaan), a struggling young artist. Seeking to escape the merchant’s ever-reaching grasp, the lovers risk everything and enter the frenzied tulip bulb market, with the hope that the right bulb will make a fortune and buy their freedom.
Tulip Fever is a 2017 historical drama film directed by Justin Chadwick and written by Deborah Moggach and Tom Stoppard, adapted from Moggach’s novel of the same name. It stars Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Jack O’Connell, Zach Galifianakis, Judi Dench, Christoph Waltz, Holliday Grainger, Matthew Morrison and Cara Delevingne. The plot follows a 17th-century painter in Amsterdam who falls in love with a married woman whose portrait he has been hired to paint.
Filming took place at Cobham Hall in Cobham, Kent, Norwich Cathedral, Holkham (in Norfolk), Tilbury, (in Essex), Kentwell Hall (in Suffolk) and at Pinewood Studios on various dates throughout June and July in 2014. Filming also took place in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire.
Footage from the film was screened in May 2015 at the 68th Cannes Film Festival. In December 2015, the first image of the film featuring Alicia Vikander and Christoph Waltz was released. The film was originally scheduled to be released in November 2015, but was pushed back to July 15, 2016 and then delayed again until February 24, 2017. It was then pulled from the schedule, and later moved to August 25, 2017. On August 16, 2017, the film was again delayed, this time being pushed back a week to September 1. The film premiered on August 13, 2017, at London’s Soho House.
As of October 15, 2017, Tulip Fever has grossed $2.4 million in the United States and Canada and $5.1 million in other territories for a total of $7.5 million, against a production budget of $25 million. In North America, Tulip Fever was projected to gross $1–2 million from 765 theaters in its opening weekend. It ended up debuting to $1.2 million ($1.5 million over the four-day Labor Day weekend) in what was the worst combined holiday weekend since 1998. Despite adding seven theaters in its second weekend, the film dropped 75.4% to $285,300, the 37th biggest such drop in history.
About the Story
Set in the Netherlands in the 17th century, during the period of the tulip mania, the film tells the story of an artist Jan (Dane DeHaan) who falls for a married young woman Sophia (Alicia Vikander) while he’s commissioned to paint her portrait by her husband Cornelis (Christoph Waltz). The two invest in the risky tulip market in hopes of building a future together.
The story begins with 17 year old Sophia, an orphan, being betrothed to the elderly Cornelis. In return for the marriage, her sisters are able to travel to New Amsterdam (New York) in the new world, where they have an aunt awaiting them. Sophia is unhappy in the marriage, since Cornelis is not romantic and only concerned with bringing an heir to inherit his name.
Cornelis has his friends show him their children, and there is talk of giving the new orphan bride Sophia six months to conceive and provide him with an heir. He already suffers from a mistake he made in the past, with his previous wife: she miscarried their first child and when Cornelis asked the doctor to save the second child over the wife, he feels that God punished him by taking his wife and his child away. Meanwhile Sophia goes to a doctor to get checked, but the doctor turns out to be the unethical Dr. Sogh, who wants to impregnate Sophia himself. Sophia slaps him and runs away, back to her husband.
Cornelis decides to hire a painter, so that he may show off his beautiful young wife to people. Sophia agrees, but as soon as the young painter Jan arrives to paint the couple, he and Sophia fall in love. Jan sends a note to Sophia, asking her to send him a vase with tulips. She shows up at his door with the tulips, and they consumate their love.
Meanwhile, Sophia’s friend, the housemaid Maria, is having an affair with the neighborhood fishmonger, William. William is also speculating in the tulip market, and is doing quite well – expecting to be independently prosperous and able to marry Maria, he even sells his business to another fishmonger. One day, Sophia borrows Maria’s cloak and heads to a rendezvous with her adulterous lover. William, seeing Sophia in the cloak, mistakes her for Maria, and follows her to her rendezvous. Crushed by what he thinks is Maria’s unfaithfulness, he goes to a pub to drown his sorrows. There a prostitute robs him of the large sum he has built up on the tulip market. When he tries to retrieve the money, he is beaten up and forcibly inducted into the navy for causing a ruckus.
Jan plots to escape to the new world – with Sophia, if possible – after having success of his own in the tulip speculation market. He hears that the nuns at St. Ursula (the convent Sophia came from) raise tulips in their gardens. Jan attempts to steal some of the bulbs, but is knocked out by the abbess of St. Ursula. When he regains consciousness, he apologises and the abbess gives him the bulbs William had bought before he was thrown into the navy.
Maria realises she is pregnant by William, which is diastrous for her; with William gone, the baby will be born out of wedlock. Sophia conspires with Maria: she will pretend to be pregnant instead, and when the baby is born, Sophia will pretend to die in childbirth, so she can leave to be with Jan, and Maria will stay with the baby to raise it herself.
When Maria finally gives birth to a daughter and Sophia pretends to die, Cornelis is griefstricken at the loss of his wife. Sophia, under her shroud pretending death, weeps as she now understands that Cornelis cared for her. While she is being carried away in a coffin, she regrets what she has done. When she later returns to the home, she catches sight of Cornelis lovingly cradling the baby, and senses that perhaps it’s too late to set things right. She flees back to the convent where she was raised.
Jan has one last transaction that will get him enough money to let him and Sophia leave the city and also pay off all his creditors. He tasks his fool of a friend Gerrit with accomplishing this transaction, charging him not to get drunk along the way. Gerrit completes the transaction and then does get drunk. In the ensuing revelry he eats the cargo he was carrying. When he tells Jan and Jan’s creditors how he ate the “onion,” they all know they have been ruined. The tulip bubble has burst. Jan goes to find Sophia, but finds her bright blue silk cloak in the river instead, which she cast off while fleeing back to the convent. He thinks she has flung herself into the canal as a result of the crashed tulip market.
Tulip Fever (2017)
Directed by: Justin Chadwick
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Zach Galifianakis, Judi Dench, Christoph Waltz, Jack O’Connell, Holliday Grainger, Matthew Morrison, Cara Delevingne, Joanna Scanlan, Alexandra Gilbreath
Screenplay by: Tom Stoppard
Production Design by: Simon Elliott
Cinematography by: Eigil Bryld
Film Editing by: Rick Russell
Costume Design by: Michael O’Connor
Set Decoration by: Rebecca Alleway
Art Direction by: Roxana Alexandru, Will Coubrough, Bill Crutcher, Nick Dent
Music by: Danny Elfman
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content and nudity.
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: September 1, 2017