Thursday, May 17, 2007

"Perfume" by German Director Tom Tykwer (2006)

Perfume. The movie title could be misleading for those who did not read the novel, one of the best-selling novels worldwide. Das Parfum was written by German novelist Patrick Süskind in 1985. The book was translated into 45 languages. Finally in 2006 the novel was translated into this huge movie production that held the same name. And now it is playing in Cairo movie theaters.

I highly recommend watching “Perfume”. The story is so different. It goes beyond children’s vast imagination.

Humans’ senses and instincts reflect a balanced interest in life pleasures. Each sense and instinct build up our reactions and interactions with what we want in life. If a human being is reduced to owning a strong olfactory, consequences could be catastrophic. The main character Jean-Baptiste Grenouille that was played by Ben Whishaw is a human being who was reduced to a nose. He interacts and reacts with life through his nose. The strong powers allow him to identify smells and combine them to beautiful perfumes.

The movie takes place in the 18th century in France. One night Grenouille loses his way in Paris while following a woman that sells plum who did not even see her face. He was so attracted to her scent. He stifled her unconsciously. He could not get over the loss…the loss of the scent not the woman.
Whishaw succeeded in vacuuming his own self to play this role. On screen all you can see is a sexless void empty human being. It is very difficult to express this human voidness and soul emptiness because it is also so rare to find in real life. If you look into anyone’s eyes, it has to say something, not necessarily a smart thing but the eyes can say “I am stupid”. But at the end of the day, it says something. I was so impressed to watch Whishaw’s talent in reflecting this soul voidness and emptiness.

Every one of us has a way to capture life and love. Humans fail to capture love with the same magnitude and strength. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille tried to capture love and life in a bottle of perfume. And because he is a human being reduced only into a man with a strong sense of smell, he captured love in a fatal way that turned him into a murderer.

His attraction feelings towards the plum woman that he could not satisfy nor understand turned him into an obsessed person. He wanted to bottle the scent of humans like the rose petals. His mind could not help understand losing the scent of this woman he got attracted to her by death.

It is a very complicated and sophisticated story to be related, but the main actors and actresses personified their roles with high level of talent. The story has so many levels and aspects that can be highlighted. It reminds me of old British literature classics.

I cannot forget to mention the music of the movie. Director Tom Tykwer together with Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek, performed by Berlin Philharmonic, put the music together to bring one of the best sound tracks for any movie I have seen recently.

All I can say that Perfume is one of those movies that words fall short of giving it its due. Probably the reason is because it is an adaptation of a very well-written novel.

Recent movie blog posts:
"Un homme et Une Femme" (1966) by French director Claude Lelouch
"Ma Vie en Rose" by Belgian director Alain Berliner (1997)
Take a Life Ride with No “Amputated Spirit”
Trois Couleurs: by Krzysztof Kieślowski (1993 -1994)
“Teach Me How to Dance”, Alexis Zorba

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At 2:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Great blog. The movie received ''Best Film'' prize at the German national film awards. I also liked the movie and the way obsession was acted. Well, each one of us has his/her own obsessions. It is the way one strives to fullfil his/her obsession that seperate us from animal instincts as the character in the film is.
I hope some of our leaders would get a ''little obsessed'' with democracy :))
My best regards,
Egyptian in Germany

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