The Intriguing Masterpiece Drama "The Miniaturist" Concerns a Reclusive Maker of Miniatures—Tiny Objects that Appear to Predict the Future

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07 September 2018
The Miniaturist
Courtesy of The Forge/Laurence Cendrowicz for BBC and MASTERPIECE
“The Miniaturist”
Premieres Sunday, September 9 at 9 PM ET on PBS
(Check your local listings)
          Golden Age Amsterdam comes alive in all its opulence and repressed sensuality in an adaptation of Jessie Burton’s bestselling novel The Miniaturist, starring Anya Taylor-Joy (Split, The Witch), Romola Garai (Churchill’s Secret, The Hour) and Alex Hassell (Genius: Picasso, Suburbicon).
           Gorgeously filmed on location in The Netherlands and the U.K., the three-part drama airs Sundays, September 9 - 23 at 9pm ET on MASTERPIECE on PBS. Taylor-Joy plays a young bride who receives mysterious packages from a reclusive maker of miniatures—tiny objects that appear to predict the future. The Miniaturist also features Paapa Essiedu (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Utopia), Hayley Squires (I, Daniel Blake; Call the Midwife) and Emily Berrington (Humans, The Inbetweeners 2).
          Set in 1686, when the Dutch Republic was one of the world’s richest and religiously zealous nations, The Miniaturist captures the paradox of extreme wealth combined with puritanical abhorrence of the pleasure that riches make possible. Petronella Oortman (Taylor-Joy), called Nella, is the unwitting victim of this clash of values. A naïve eighteen-year-old from a bankrupt aristocratic family in the provinces, she is wooed by Johannes Brandt (Hassell), a handsome and prosperous merchant looking for a wife.

           The two wed, but he dispenses with nuptial intimacies to depart immediately on a business trip, arranging for her to join him at his mansion in Amsterdam a few weeks later. When Nella arrives, Johannes is still away, leaving her in the care of his grim and overbearing sister, Marin (Garai), and the household’s two controlling servants: the housekeeper Cornelia (Squires) and Otto (Essiedu), a former slave who was freed by Johannes.
          So begins Nella’s virtual imprisonment in the residence where she had expected to be in charge. After Johannes returns, he remains emotionally cool to Nella, giving evasive reasons. Nonetheless, he shows his affection by presenting her with a singular wedding gift: an exquisitely crafted cutaway model of the very house where she is now living, and he instructs her to furnish it as she likes by calling on the services of one of the local makers of miniature objects—a miniaturist. With nothing else to do, Nella embraces this odd amusement.

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