Friday, January 19, 2007

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Having read the novel by Patrick Süskind twice and being an avid fan of the book, I have been eagerly awaiting to see this film since I found out it was being made over a year ago. There was a lot of debate as to who should play which character and more importantly, who was right for the main character of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. There was also general dissent as to whether the book was even filmable at all and whether rumour or not, it was said that Stanley Kubrick debated making an attempt but given thought, dismiessd the book as unfilmable. If you have read the book, you will know that it is a huge task to re-enact 18th century Paris within the conext of the book but more importantly, it is a film about smell and cinema is about sound and vision.

Another problem faced by the director is attempting to squeeze a huge amount of plot, description and visceral based material into an acceptable time-frame and this was overcome by using a narrator at key momments in the film to explain passages of time and drive the message home about how smell and the use of perfume was essential to living in Paris during this time.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, concerns Grenouille, whose prodigious gift of an incomparable sense of smell and inexplicable lack of a personal scent isolates him from society. He becomes obsessed with the rich sensory world he alone inhabits and his single objective in life becomes the preservation of the perfect scent, that of young, beautiful virgins whose essence can only become available through murder.

Although enjoyable, the movie was slightly farcical at times, which, although entirely plausable within a long narrative description in a book, was difficult to bring across to the audience within the context of film. Nevertheless, it is a loyal adaptation given the aforementioned constraints and a worthy film to see in its own right. However, it is no patch on the book and I recommend picking up a copy as it is an engrossing and fascinating read worthy of being a modern classic.

I would give Perfume: The Story of a Murderer 6.2 vials out of 10.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Lou said...

I would definately read the book first. If you like the book, then check out the film afterwards as a point of interest, but don't expect too much. It's not that it's a bad film, it's just that it is an exceptionally difficult novel to portray on the screen, as the visual images cannot possibly evoke the same imagery and sensualness that is conjured up from the words on paper.

9:06 am  

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