Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Since I can’t remember the last movie rental I watched that left any kind of impression on me, I felt compelled to post about a gem I saw tonight. Perfume is the film adaptation of the 1985 literary historical German novel, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind.

I picked up the book when it was first released and the story has stayed with me all of these years. The story was so unique, well written, horrifying, beautiful, shocking and thought provoking that I’ve never forgotten it.

The main character is born in the slums of Paris in 1736 with the gift of a sublime sense of smell. He’s orphaned and moves from infancy through boyhood and adolescence from one appalling situation to the next and causes all of those who come in contact with him a sense of discomfort. The reason for this is because he doesn't actually have a scent, which other people aren't consciously aware of, but the effect is that to the rest of the world, he nearly doesn't exist. He's eventually apprenticed to a perfumer and begins a quest to create the ultimate scent and he embarks on a series of murders. The story explores scent and the emotional meaning scents carry and although the setting is historical, the themes are entirely contemporary.

Stanley Kubrick declared the story unfilmable, but German filmmaker Tom Tykwer has created an incredibly visceral cinematic masterpiece. You’ll want to put this opinion into the context of my personal movie taste, which you can get a feel for if you look at my detailed profile. If you like the type of films that I do, you’ll really like this movie.

Has anyone else read this book or seen this film? What good movies have you seen lately?


reality said...

The most recent movie I watched that left an impression on me was 'Blood Diamonds.'

Leatherdykeuk said...

I haven't read the book but I loved the film.

May I recommend "Becoming Jane"?

Patti said...

i just saw "super bad". laughed my ass off. and, yes, i know what this says about me.....

Larramie said...

I haven't read the book or seen the movie but know that a perfume supposedly was made to capture the story.

kristen said...

Well, since the last movie I saw was The Nanny Diaries (sole purpose: to make me feel like supermom), I guess it wouldn't hurt to up the ante and turn to something a bit more literary. I'm going to add Perfume to my queue at Blockbuster.

Lisa said...

Reality, I saw it and it was a good one.

Rachel, thanks for the recommendation. It looks good and I'll definitely watch it.

Patti, I am not above a silly movie and watched "Blades of Glory" not long ago :)

Larramie, I didn't know that! Considering the story, that would be a risky/bold marketing move.

Kristen, Carleen at The Pajama Gardener posted about The Nanny Diaries last week and said it was good. Definitely read the reviews on Perfume before you take my word for it. I think you'll like it but I know there will be a lot of people who won't.

liz fenwick said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll see if I can get my hands on it here.

Charles Gramlich said...

I haven't seen this but it sounds interesting. The last movie I watched was the horror film "23," starring Jim Carrey. It was pretty good, with a nice surprise ending.

Anonymous said...

The book sounds fascinating, and in the short time I've been reading your blog, I see that you have impeccable taste. I am adding the book (and movie) to my request list at the library. Thanks!

Lisa said...

Liz, I hope you can. I really thought it was good.

Charles, I really think you'd like it. I watched "23" and went into it without any expectations, since so many horror movies tend to disappoint, but I thought it was really good too and I was clueless up until the end. Did not see that one coming!

Mardougrrl, I do hope you like it. My disclaimer is the same to you as it is to everyone -- not everyone likes the kinds of books and films I do, but the list on my detailed profile will probably give you a good idea. I hate to recommend something to someone and find that they didn't like it :)

Yellow said...

I love the book, and I'm dreading seeing the film, because the book is one I've read read over and over. I will go to see it though & give it a fair trial. You've actually made me less apprehensive about seeing it. Thanks for that.

Anonymous said...

This is the second time this book has been brought up to me in the past two weeks by folks whose opinion I trust and whose tastes run somewhat similar in literature. It's now officially going on my "to buy" list. Thanks1

susan @ spinning

Lisa said...

Yellow, the movie does differ somewhat from the book, but I think that in and of itself (if you aren't expecting it to be exactly the same as the book), it is a really great film.

Susan, I am very honored that you'd consider one of my recommendations trustworthy -- although, you read a lot of MUCH more challenging books than I do!

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Literary Quote

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.

Virginia Woolf