Das Parfum (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer), by Patrick Süskin - Perfume Story

Das Parfum (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer), by Patrick Süskin

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Das Parfum (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer), by Patrick Süskin

I first learned about the novel Das Parfum (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer) when I attended the 'Perfume Lecture' at the Perfume World exhibition (September 18th to November 28th 2010) which was held in the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum in Japan.
The lecturer, Mr Tsugumi Michibata (TAKASAGO INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION), started his speech by asking "Have you seen the perfume movie?" He then introduced us to the movie explaining that "It has an incredibly fascinating story". As soon as I heard this I went to watch the movie, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, which was made in 2006. I soon recognized for myself that this was truly a great movie. Then I found out that it was originally based on the book Das Parfum, by Patrick Süskind.

However, this does not mean I rushed out to read the novel, but afterwards I did visit the Das Parfum Museum in Mehlingen-Baalborn. Here, I was very surprised to see again the equipment and perfume factory that had been used as a setting in the movie. This museum was built with the consent of those involved in the movie. At that time the female guide who was showing me around the museum said "The novel clearly explains perfume in a way that is both very clear and easy to understand". She then added that 'It really is a very fascinating story". Hearing such a strong recommendation to read the book, I decided that I would have to give it a try.

With such timing I visited the well-known Farina company in Eau de Cologne, Germany and met the eighth generation president Mr. Johann Maria Farina.
Farina was founded in 1709 and boasts a 300 year old history. Mr Farina left a strong impression on me. He gently, but very firmly explained to me his belief in the company's management philosophy and strategy. He explained that "the company is trying to keep alive 300 years of history". "There are many perfume manufacturers in the world, but only one is still making the same perfume as it was 300 years ago, and in any case coming up with a new perfume now would be an extremely difficult thing to do", he continued. "However, along the way it has been very difficult to continue our traditions, because of changes to the environment, climate and economy, there are times when it is difficult to obtain the right ingredients and this is a problem that is only going to continue", he added.
At that time I asked him if he had seen the movie Perfume: Story of a Murderer, "Of course!" he replied. He also commented that "When they were shooting the movie they came to my firm many times to ask questions about this and that". When asked about the movie's climax, where there is a love scene involving around 750 naked people he responded that "It shows an understanding of the ideal state of perfume". Hearing such emotions expressed like that, I started to read the book.

The novel Das Parfum was first published in 1985. The author, Patrick Süskind, was born in 1949 in Ambach am Starnberger See, near Munich in Germany. He studied history, first in Munich and then in Aix-en-Provence after moving to France. From early on he started writing short stories although, at first, luck was not really on his side. However, while working as an editor for newspapers and magazines he wrote a play called The Double Bass, which caught the attention of a Swiss publisher. The publisher commissioned him to write Das Parfum and immediately after its publication it became a bestseller in the literary circles of Germany. It went on to be translated into 23 different languages.

The story is a fantastical idea. The protagonist is called Grenouille and in French this means 'frog'. Despite this, the real leading part is 'smell'. From stenches that make you feel sick to fragrances that win high praise from all, every single possible smell makes an appearance in the book. However, in fact Grenouille himself has no smell. Can you possibly imagine a person who has no smell? The charm of this novel is this absurdly powerful idea.
Having no smell, he runs away from Paris, finally arriving among the Auvergne Mountains and the scenes around him and his psychological state are examined. These descriptions really stand out for their brilliance. I thought to myself, "This truly is a great book".
Grenouille spends seven years by himself in the mountains before coming back down and moving to Grasse, the kingdom of aromas. Here, he starts to use his lack of smell as a weapon and he starts to search for the most outstanding, the most wonderful smell in existence.
Then in downtown Paris in finds a red-headed girl with such a smell. He strangles her to death, rips off her clothes and smells out her entire body. The smell is engraved on his brain and he develops a longing for that smell like a man possessed.
This is where Grenouille becomes a murderer. He kills as many as 25 beautiful women, but his purpose in murdering them is to obtain their smell. However, if you want to know how he kills the women and how he obtains their smell, I think it is best if you check out the movie or the book for yourself.

At last Grenouille is captured as a murderer and he is sentenced to death, but when he is standing at the gallows a miracle occurs.
The square where Grenouille was due to be executed was packed with people trying to watch the execution. However, these people were overwhelmed with the belief that "There is no way this man could kill someone" and the scene turns into a sexual orgy involving all of those present. This is the scene which Mr. Farina expressed as "showing the ideal state of perfume".
This story has a great number of climaxes and follows a brilliant plot before it settles down towards its final conclusion. It unravels itself at a perfect pace, as if you were watching an exquisite machine do its work. I think that this is what attracts me most to this story and what makes me find it so fascinating.

When I meet people from the world of perfume and talk about the book and movie of Das Parfum, a great many reply that they have read and watched it too.
I am looking forward to reading the comments on the impressions of those who read the book or watched the movie after seeing this blog.

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This page contains a single entry by administer published on February 16, 2011 4:15 PM.

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