Monday, January 08, 2018

I Watch TV: The Miniaturist

This historical mystery drama (based on a novel) was shown in 2 parts between Christmas and New Year on the BBC. The story of Nella Oortman, a woman in the 17th Century Netherlands who marries a rich Amsterdam merchant and finds herself caught up in a variety of mysterious events, many revolving about the miniature house she has been given for a wedding present.

As it happened we had an Amsterdammer as a house guest and she pointed out that although the historical detail was fair, it was also the all the cliches of 17th Century Amsterdam. The obsession with sugar, presenting onseself at the window to prove no one has anything to hide, she marries so her family can get money to fix the dike, herring and beer for breakfast etc. As we got deeper into the story characters began to have their own motives and personalities, yet their concerns did not always fit well with the historical roles they were also filling.

In the end The Miniaturist refuses to commit to it's mysteries; the explanation given for how the titular artisan can make tiny items that reveal and even fortell events in the house is (deliberately) unsatisfying. A curiosity rather than a necessity.

Watch This: If you like a bit of historical drama that looks good
Don't Watch This: If you prefer neat happy endings
And Also In Novel Forms of Justice: The punishment of being drowned by having a millstone tied to the neck was new to us

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