Sunday, 30 December 2007

Perfume: The story of a murderer

Movie: 'Perfume: The story of a murderer'(2006)
Director: Tom Tykwer
Cast: Ben Whishaw, Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Jessica Schwarz
Based on the novel by : Patrick Süskind
Genre: Thriller/Horror

It is not a pleasant movie I warn you, but indeed very different from the usual storylines. The story is set in 18th century Paris. As you could decipher from the name of the movie it is the story of a murderer. There are no heroes in this story only the villain Jean Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Wishaw) who has an extraordinary sense of smell.
Before watching the movie I had heard that it was good and a must see. I had read a synopsis as well and I wondered what sort of a story could be developed using such a theme. Perhaps you think so too? Well, read on…

The best nose in Paris
Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is poor. An orphan. His existence is in the worst form- as a slave. Nobody teaches him the importance of moral values. He does not know the difference between good and evil. The only thing that he does know is that he has an extraordinary sense of smell- such strong sense that he could almost see what is happening around him even with closed eyes! He could smell just anything in the world and differentiate each and every one of them. (The cinematography is truly magnificent since we get an idea of how he smells, which I think must have been really difficult.)

The first victim

Once while in town he sees, or rather, smells a woman which attracts him like anything he had smelled yet. (The way he follows her is totally creepy!) He is not interested in the woman as such but only her scent. He accidentally kills her but he does not worry about that. His only worry is that he could not preserve her smell (!) This becomes the driving force behind all his deeds later.

One day he meets the once renowned perfume maker Baldini (Dustin Hoffman). Baldini is immediately convinced of Grenouille's genius by the way he easily finds the ingredients (and in the right quantities) of a perfume that he had been trying to work out for hours together! He wastes no time in buying Grenouille from his owner and making him his apprentice.

Four essences
Grenouille soon learns that there are four essences in a perfume- the head chord, the heart chord and the base chord. Each of these three chords have four notes each making the total notes twelve. Now there is a last mysterious essence, the thirteenth, which will make the perfume unique in every way. To Grenouille, making this unique perfume becomes the biggest obsession and the only aim in his life.

With the aim of learning the procedure of enfleurage (the process of preserving scents with the help of odorless fats) he goes to the city of Grasse. On his way he discovers for the first time that he does not have a scent of his own! He realises that he had been a nobody all his life. This convinces him even more distinctly that making the perfect perfume is the only way to prove to the world how 'exceptional' he is.
So once he reaches Grasse he starts experimenting…killing women and applying the laws of enfleurage to preserve their scents...

View point
The story is that of a very sick person; talented, but greedy, over-confident, insolent and absolutely crazy. I could not help but think that if he had not misused his talent he would have settled down as the most successful perfume maker in the world. But then, there would not have been a story!

As you could imagine,the movie was quite creepy but it held my attention till the end. Maybe it was because of the excellent cinematography. The ending was not at all like I had expected which made me a little annoyed. I can't say anymore without spoiling it for you. Anyway I have to say it was a good movie (in an eerie sort of way). Watch it and decide for yourself...

Related links:

Official website

Buy the DVD from Amazon

Buy the book 'Perfume' by Patrick Suskind


Jose said...

I really liked this movie. What I didnt like is that you cant really see this story has unreal facts until some point of it (wich I wont say now, so everyone can see it).

Im looking foward to read the book, It must be better than the movie.

Paul said...

As a big fan of Tom Tykwer's 'Run Lola Run', I was intrigued how he'd approach 'Perfume', and was delighted. I wasn't dispappointed by the ending, but maybe the quality of the filming had got me hooked by that point. I'm glad you reviewed this film and reminded me how much I liked it. Thanks.


aarveeve9 said...

hey...reaaly liked the way u wrote..
am including ur link my blog...pease do the same 4 me also..
do post ur comments also.

chica said...

Your post just reminded me that I have this book lying unread for a few months now. Will read it and get back to your review :).

Rajamma said...

I really loved to read it.It was fascinating! I want to read this

patrick said...

Saw Perfume recently, well done in general, good character building, the story moves along at a good pace... it says a lot about human nature as well.

pramod prabudhan said...

Good,but in an eerie sort of way??...ha ha that says it all.Perfect review.I should have read your review before watching it.The movies perfume and stardust happened to get added to my DVD collection because of my wife's interest in creepy and fantasy movies.went for perfume by just reading genre:thriller/horror.But i didn't find it any thrilling and probably it's gonna be a horror when i would be listening to my wife's review.Planing to start a perfume business...Don't u think i should learn Enfleurage?Because I'm very EXCEPTIONAL!!!!!;-)

Destiny's child... said...

I just loved the way you handled the review. I mean, its very well written.:)
And I am with you on this. I found the movie good in a very eerie sort of way. Perfect choice of words there! :)