Tuesday, November 5, 2013

(Re)Watch "Perfume: Story of a Murderer" Accompanied by the Film's Scent Track; or Odorama in the Service of Movie Appreciation

The Tom Tykwer directed 2006 film "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" (based itself on the cult 1985 novel Das Parfum by Patrick Suskind) will be accompanied by a newly created “scent track” for screenings in Los Angeles Nov. 6 and 7.

via kino.de

According to The Hollywood Reporter: "The screenings, which are free and open to the public, are being organized by the Institute of Art and Olfaction, an L.A.-based nonprofit that promotes the understanding of fragrance and facilitates its use in art. l.a. Eyeworks will host the screenings at its Beverly Boulevard store and, along with with L.A. perfume boutique Scent Bar, will host private pre-show parties. International Flavors and Fragrance, which stores the recipes, whipped up new batches for the occasion. The scents will be distributed to the audience manually, on card-stock strips."

via kino.de

Readers with a long memory will recall that perfumer Christophe Laudamiel (the mastermind behind DreamAir and scented opera), who has been a fan of the book like myself ever since its first publication back in the 1980s, had created a series of scents inspired by key scenes in the story: Baby, Sea, Aura, Paris 1838, Nuit Napolitaine, or Orgy are as immediately evocative as they are fascinating in their contradictory and derisive nature. At the time of the film's issue in 2006 Thierry Mugler under the aegis of Clarins Group had launched a special coffret with mini bottles containing these "accords" and scents retailing at the super collectible price of 800$.

Laudamiel and his partner Christoph Hornetz approached production company Constantin Films, which, along with Thierry Mugler's fragrance team, loved the idea and so a few select screenings of the 2006 film were accompanied by sniffs of the collection available at the theater lobby. But the upcoming L.A. screenings will be the first in which the scents will be experienced at the moments for which they were intended; the audience will be guided to pass the strip under their nose as soon as the accompanying scene comes on screen.

Sounds like an unmissable opportunity to render a 4th dimension to the cinematic experience: smell.

via kino.de


  1. I somehow managed to miss the movie, even though the novel is one of my favourite books ever. I'd heard of the Mugler set, of course: but $800? Not a chance. I'm not made of money!

    I finally watched this movie just yesterday on Netflix and found myself wishing I'd been able to buy the coffret (in production for a few years afterwards but now discontinued) if for no other reason than that I could smell the scents as their scenes played. I bet the scent-card screenings are the next best thing.

  2. C,

    how did you finally find the movie?

    Although it had received criticism at the time I personally believe it proved to be a good depiction of some of the aspects of the book in a subject that was largely considered to be unfilmable. My SO who hadn't read the novel before was intrigued, when he watched it, found the plot interesting to follow and appreciated the mysticism of the aromatic process. (He does have a good nose too and likes perfumes).

    Like you, the novel is among my favorite books ever and the age I read it (within a year of coming out) was a most impressionable one, so no wonder.
    Of course I missed in the film the more esoteric critique of Enlightment in the book, as well as the novel's religious parables (the Messianic element, if you please, what with the final sacrifice taking a purely bodily nuance recalling communion, the 40 days in the dessert & the temptations, the "being a being apart" element of Grenouille's personality, the miraculous powers he posseses etc.)

    The TM coffret is probably best seen as a curio, a scented pathway to connect the dots for modern people who have no real grasp of just how loaded of humanity the environments of the 18th century were. I find that if more (lay) people were familiar with Alain Corbain's book "Le miasme et la jonquile", which I'm sure you know, that aspect would be a fascinating one to explore further in pop culture. But we can dream.
    Today's environement must be just as loaded in scent, I bet, only now it's manufactured and "masking" scent, instead of pure and raw product of living.

    The screenings are indeed the next best thing and I'm green with envy I'm not near LA at this moment!! *heavy sigh*

  3. I wish we had events like this where I live. I would have loved to attend. I enjoyed the book and I've watched this movie countless times. I actually use it as background noise when I'm cooking, cleaning, working, etc.

  4. Lisa,

    I'm nodding my head in agreement.

    How lovely that you use it as background noise! Doesn't it distract you in the more ominous scenes? I'd be tempted to stop what I'm doing and take a peek myself. ;-)

    (I love the music in the film too)


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