Tulip Fever, which hits theaters in July, stars Alicia Vikander as a seventeenth-century Dutch woman married to a much older man (Christoph Waltz) who falls in love with the artist commissioned to paint her portrait (Dane DeHaan). Think Shakespeare in Love meets Girl With a Pearl Earring, especially since the man who penned the former, Tom Stoppard, wrote this movie too.
To finance their escape, the lovers try to capitalize on the mania for tulips that seized the Netherlands in the 1630s. As Gwyneth Kelly has written in the New Republic about this very real, very bizarre historical event: “In the seventeenth century, the Dutch fell so rapturously in love with tulip bulbs the flowers were treated as stock futures. Special vases were designed to best display the flowers, and people invested their life’s savings in a tulip market where a single bulb was worth the same as a large house. In 1637 the bubble burst and some investors were left bankrupt or in debt. Tulipomania now enjoys a healthy afterlife as a dire warning about speculation in economics textbooks.”