I read “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” by Patrick Suskind twice, although I still haven’t seen the film. The opinions of some people whom I trust did play a certain role in delaying my watching it. However, upon recently reading an article in The New York Times I feel Tom Tykwer might have been a tad early in making the film. Then, of course, so were the generations of film directors.
“When Roses Won’t Do, E-Mail a Fragrance” is an article introducing the latest Japanese invention – a kind of “smell-o-phone”. As the authors explain,
This is the point where I don’t know if art imitates technology, or technology imitates art, as I read further:
In conclusion, “NTT Communications believes that fragrance is the next important medium for telecommunications, as more value is placed on high sensory information.”
As I was reading the article, I’ve been thinking of using telecommunications for viral perfume marketing. I think Jean-Paul Gaultier could use the idea very creatively: he could team up with a mobile phone manufacturer, to produce mobiles in the form of his famous perfume bottles (see image) and to have them emit the precious scents.
And next, of course, we’d be in for the new spin in film remakes. And that’s where “Perfume” enters the picture. The very first pages of the novel (sorry, I’ve got no English edition at hand to quote directly) paint us the portrait of Paris we’d rather ignore. We’re used to think of Paris as the capital of fashion, emitting fabulous aromas and scents. In the 18th c., however, the city was far from smelling nicely. Unwholesome vapours filled the streets and houses, and if you actually imagine the repertory of smells as you read through it, you’d be repulsed. Looking at the critique of the novel, it may be that this smelly Paris gets well past the noses of the readers. If, however, the Japanese venture gets to be used in multimedia and film, the remake of “Perfume” may set us on the right track to reading the novel. At any rate, making films smell will for once change our romantic outlook on many a historical epoch, which in turn will open an altogether new subject in both disciplines of History and Film: The Scent Studies.
Image credits: Glamour Magazine.