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Iceni Magazine | September 23, 2020

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Norfolk turns into seventeenth century Netherlands in Tulip Fever

Norfolk turns into seventeenth century Netherlands in Tulip Fever

During last year, 2017, an excellent movie was released in theaters and we strongly recommend you to watch it if you have not done it yet: Tulip Fever.

Inspired by Deborah Moggach’s novel by the same name, the feature film counts on an excellent cast composed by Alicia Vikander (who recently played Lara Croft in the reboot of Tomb Raider), Dane DeHaan, Zach Galifianakis, Judi Dench and Christoph Waltz.

Perhapsyou’re wondering why we’re talking about it since Tulip Fever is set in seventeenth-century Netherlands. Because in reality the film was shot entirely in England, in several locations including Kentwell Hall (in Suffolk), Pinewood Studios in London, in Tilbury (in Essex), in Norwich Cathedral and in Holkham, which is located in Norfolk. Therefore, although hidden behind fiction, it was a one-of-a-kind ComOn promotion for a village that has just over 200 inhabitants, considered that there has been much talk about the film’s settings in the media all over the world.

It was a real celebration for the local population, who has shown the best possible hospitality to the stars who arrived on the spot for Justin Chadwick’s film. We should mention that there are several reasons why the choice has fallen on England and not on Netherlands. During a recent interview, production designer Simon Elliott stressed in particular how Amsterdam now offers very little scenery going back to the seventeenth century.

The crew moved to various locations during the production, arriving in Holkham to shoot the outdoor scenes of the beach, on the Norfolk coast. Regarding the choice of the locations, Judi Dench was very positively impressed, as she was fascinated by the beauty of his village that she had never seen before. The main protagonist of the film, Alicia Vikander, also expressed very similar views on the place.

The plot of the film tells a story set in Amsterdam, in 1636, when the city is in full swing. Trade thrives and the arts flourish. Sophia, an orphan grown by nuns, is married to a rich merchant, Cornelis Sandvoort, much older than her. He craves a child, but she cannot give it to him, thus compromising their marriage. The two decide to pose for a portrait that will make them immortal, but Sophia starts a relationship with the painter, a young and talented artist: Jan van Loos. All this while Sophia’s maid, Maria, discovers that she is pregnant and the child’s father is the young man she is in love with, who for a misunderstanding fled away. To save the situation, the two women devise a plan that seems practicable for both of them. However, while Holland is prey to a collective folly, the fever of possessing tulip bulbs, with intense brushstrokes of sensuality, irresistible desire, deception, dreams and illusions, the portrait takes a completely different form.

Finally, we’d like to mention another curious fact about Holkham since it had already been chosen as the setting of another famous film, Shakespeare in Love, released in 1998. The long and wonderful beach that appears in the final scene is exactly Holkham Bay in Norfolk, one beautiful stretch of sand against the backdrop of its dunes.


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