Between the beautiful bloom and scent of amaranth, lavender, acadia and the most precious fumes that have ever been sensed lies a story of a gifted boy - murderer in heart. Patrick Süskind’s novel „Perfume” was published in 1985, which, I believe, is one of the most imaginative and eccentric story ideas I have ever read. This cross-genred novel is one of the most successful German publications of the 20th century alongside with Erich Maria Remarque’s novels and roughly twenty years later – in 2006 Tom Tykwer adapted Grenouille’s story for cinemas.
For a brief rundown of the plot – the story is based in eighteen century Paris, where an orphan named Jean-Baptiste Grenouille grows up. For a long time he does not learn to speak and although he does not have a natural smell of his own it is enough for him to smell the ambient and to allow all the odours of the world flew through him. The reason why it is so hard for him to harmonize with people or at least to properly blend in is because of his remarkable and unusually keen sense of smell – and it is not an unnatural sign of his to detect odours in things that average people would not believe to have scent at all. As Grenouille trains to be a perfumer he is determined to make the utopian scent that could place him into God’s place. Nonetheless, the ‘perfect perfume’ in his eyes is created of the scents of thirteen virginal girls since is the only way to preserve and obtain their natural smells.
Patrick Süskind, the author of this outstanding novel, reveals the story bit by bit without losing the control of his protagonist Grenouille’s intense and heightened thoughts, feelings and expressions, while not forgeting to replete the story with immense descriptions of various scents and odours. The author also allows the reader to imagine Grenouille’s scent library and how does he files all the odours in his brain under different categories. With every page you turn over – it seems you can actually smell all the odours the author have described. Patrick Süskind also manages to capture the insanity of his protagonist Grenouille in way that it even attracts you, even if you feel little bit disgusted of his Grenouille’s actions.
I must say that it is a unquestionably captivating and strangely visual novel, which makes it even more difficult to use it as a screenplay for movie, but, of course, if there is a great novel roaming around then making it into a movie is only matter of time. The author of „Perfume” was convinced that only Stanley Kubrick (director of „A Clockwork Orange”) and Miloš Forman (director of „Amadeus”) could make the book in a way that is as good as it should be, hence he refused to let anyone else make a movie adaptation of it for a lot of years. Eventually Süskind eased off and sold the movie rights to his friend Bernd Eichinger. Ironically the author had no involvement in this project, although Eichinger himself admits that their biggest problem was that the main character does not...