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 Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

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Donald McKinney
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PostSubject: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer   Sat Feb 21, 2009 6:39 pm

In 1985, German author Patrick Süskind published Das Parfum, a historical horror-thriller which won immediate acclaim upon release. Since it came out, many directors have wanted to do a film adaptation of the book, with directors such as Ridley Scott, Milos Forman, Tim Burton, Martin Scorsese and Stanley Kubrick have been attached to it, but they found the material to be "unfilmable". However, German producer Bernd Eichinger was determined to make a film out of it, he eventually got the rights from Süskind, and assigned acclaimed German director, Tom Tykwer, best known for Run, Lola, Run (1998) and Heaven (2002), to bring the "unfilmable" book, to the big screen. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer looks set to be a lavish, yet dark historical serial-killer piece, but it's been a long time coming.

The film, set in 18th Century France, focuses on Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, (Ben Whishaw), a man born with no natural scent but an excellent sense of smell. With this, he becomes an apprentice to perfumer Giuseppe Baldini, (Dustin Hoffman). Grenouille falls for Laura Richis (Rachel Hurd-Wood), daughter of rich businessman Antoine Richis, (Alan Rickman). Grenouille falls not only for Laura, but her scent, and has to capture it in perfume form, only he has found a way of doing it, even if it has involved the murder of 24 victims.

The book is a captivating and gripping read, capturing the foulness of the slums of 18th Century Paris, and even describing everyday scents we know so well in graphic analytical detail. The opening chapter will make your nose twitch, already trying to imagine the squallor what people must be living in. But, author Patrick Süskind felt the books theme of scent could not be captured in a visual form, however, producer Bernd Eichinger and acclaimed German director Tom Tykwer have proved him wrong, by making a faithful adaptation of the book, and whilst they've cut bits out, they've created one of the foulest, depraved and most beautiful films in recent years. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer proves that nothing is unfilmable!! Very Happy

The film reeks of Euro-Pudding, but it's a lavish, classy film. Capturing the period wonderfully, recreating the narrow streets of Paris beautifully. Tykwer is an ideal choice for director, he brings the best out of his actors and can handle the darkness and the black comedy with ease, but he shows a Gilliamesque streak, especially when it comes to the fate of the victims, especially a cat. And the finale in the town square of Grasse is something Ken Russell would come up with!! Shocked

Young British actor Ben Whishaw makes a good interpretation of Grenouille, he's not an ugly dwarf as described in the book, but he gives Grenouille an innocent charm, an tortured killer, someone who is pathetic and sad on the inside. Alan Rickman and Dustin Hoffman offer some top-notch support in this delightfully disgusting film, and John Hurt provides his warm vocal tones to the narration!! Smile











The details portrayed in the film are sickening, from Grenouille's sickening birth, in the horrors of a fish market, to how he eventually captures the scents of his victims, and a grisly finale. It's done with an operatic flair, and some moments in this have to be seen to be believed, Tykwer was a good choice for director, but I wonder what directors previously attached like Stanley Kubrick or Tim Burton would have made of it?? It is sickening, a little perverted, a bit depraved, but ultimately wonderful, one of the best of 2006!! Very Happy
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