on 18 August 2014
PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER  [Blu-ray] [Dutch Release] From the Director of Run Lola Run! Based on the Best Selling Novel!
‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer’ is a German 2006 thriller film directed by Tom Tykwer, written by Andrew Birkin, Bernd Eichinger and Tykwer and starring Ben Whishaw, Alan Rickman, Rachel Hurd-Wood and Dustin Hoffman. It is based on the 1985 novel Perfume by Patrick Süskind. Set in 18th century France, the film tells the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille [Ben Whishaw], an old factory genius, and his homicidal quest for the perfect scent. Narrated by John Hurt.
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: 2007 33rd Saturn Awards: Nominated: Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film. Nominated: Best Director for Tom Tykwer. Nominated: Best Writing for Andrew Birkin, Bernd Eichinger and Tom Tykwer. Nominated: Best Supporting Actress for Rachel Hurd-Wood. Nominated: Best Music for Johnny Klimek, Reinhold Heil and Tom Tykwer. 2007 European Film Awards: Won: Best Cinematographer for Frank Griebe. European Film Academy Prix d'Excellence: Won: Production Design Work for Uli Hanisch. 2007 Germany Film Awards: Won: Silver Best Feature Film. Won: Best Cinematography. Won: Best Costume Design. Won: Best Editing. Won: Best Production Design. Won: Best Sound.
Cast: Ben Whishaw, Francesc Albiol, Gonzalo Cunill, Roger Salvany, Andrés Herrera, Simon Chandler, David Calder, Richard Felix, Birgit Minichmayr, Reg Wilson, Catherine Boisgontier, Núria Casas, Carlos Gramaje, Sian Thomas, Michael Smiley, Walter Cots, Perry Millward, Jan Cortés, Berta Ros, Alvaro Roque, Franck Lefeuvre, Sam Douglas, Joan Serrats, Jaume Montané, Bridget McConnell, Duna Jové, Karoline Herfurth, Timothy Davies, Dustin Hoffman, Dora Romano, Carolina Vera, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Alan Rickman, Sara Forestier, Ramon Pujol, Corinna Harfouch, Harris Gordon, Guillermo Ayesa, Anna Diogene, Montserrat Masó, Francesca Piñón, Nico Baixas, Enric Arquimbau, John Hurt (voice), Miquel Bordoy (uncredited), Òscar Bosch (uncredited), Carme Capdet (uncredited), Jordi Manuel (uncredited), Jaume Najarro (uncredited), Alberto Quintana (uncredited), Carlos Serna (uncredited) and Sergi Atencia Sánchez (uncredited)
Director: Tom Tykwer
Producers: Andreas Grosch, Andreas Schmid, Bernd Eichinger, Edmon Roch, Gigi Oeri, Julio Fernández, Manuel Cuotemoc Malle, Martin Moszkowicz, Samuel Hadida, Silvia Tollmann and Teresa Gefaell
Screenplay: Andrew Birkin, Bernd Eichinger, Tom Tykwer and Patrick Süskind (novel "Das Parfum")
Composers: Johnny Klimek, Reinhold Heil and Tom Tykwer
Cinematography: Frank Griebe
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 [CinemaScope]
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Running Time: 142 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: E1 Entertainment Benelux
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Adapted from Patrick Süskind’s clammy, high-toned international best seller, “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” is of interest mainly as an example of what might be called the sensory imperialism of cinema. Quite a few films, not content to stimulate the eyes and ears, try to conquer the other senses as well. Touch and taste are the favourites; hence the ubiquity of scenes that take place in bed or at a table, but an intrepid researcher could probably identify, amid the sighing caresses and laden forkfuls, an authentically old factory film tradition.
Tom Tykwer, the director of ‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer’ and also, most memorably, ‘Run Lola Run.’ It tells the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille [Ben Whishaw], a skinny, sallow young fellow who grows up in the pungent atmosphere of 18th-century France burdened with a preternaturally sensitive nose. Every stone and blade of grass, every young woman’s cheekbone and belly button, every piece of fruit and hunk of rotting fish sends its essence straight to Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s nostrils, sometimes from a great distance.
Tom Süskind goes full tilt in exploiting the lush, lurid tones of Frank Griebe’s cinematography, he rubs our noses in Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s world by assaulting our eyes with what he smells. Thus the camera lingers on rotting fish, on animal skins at the tannery where Jean-Baptiste Grenouille serves an early apprenticeship, and then on the lissom ladies who become his victims.
Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s episodic adventures are propelled along by John Hurt’s arch, third-person narration. John Hurt has also performed a similar service for another over-reaching European filmmaker, Lars von Trier, in his English-language theatricals, ‘Dogville’  and ‘Manderlay’ . Ben Whishaw, wan and jug-eared, does not quite manage to make Jean-Baptiste Grenouille either a victim worthy of pity or a fascinating monster. The fellow’s sensory endowment is meant to make him both an artist and an amoral killer, a social outcast who nonetheless gives the society what it really wants, but in the film Jean-Baptiste Grenouille comes across as dull, dour and repellent.
Jean-Baptiste Grenouille himself, in the unwashed streets of Paris and the fragrant lanes of Grasse, France’s perfume capital, this condition is a kind of invisibility; Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is consumed with the project of concocting a transcendental scent. After receiving some technical training from a master perfume-maker named Giuseppe Baldini [Dustin Hoffman], he sets out to perfect his own special formula, a recipe that calls for the extracted essences of 12 virgins and a prostitute, who all must be killed before the materials can be rendered. The women are thus bonked on the head, covered in animal fat and then left, naked and carefully posed, in the streets and squares of Grasse.
The town authorities panic, in particular Antoine Richis [Alan Rickman], a local notable whose red-haired daughter, Laura Richis [Rachel Hurd-Wood], conveniently possesses a natural funk that is one of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s coveted ingredients. So intent is he on finding her that he pursues her over hill and dale, using his powerful nose to track her as she flees. The camera dutifully speeds across the countryside, and when it lights upon Laura Richis, who is fleeing in disguise and on horseback, she turns around in the saddle, as if suddenly aware that she is being sniffed.
‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer’ is a connection between sexual desire and the impulse to kill, that tried and true German Liebestod, is proposed but never really explored. When Dustin Hoffman, who looks marvellous in velvety face powder, departs the scene, he takes any inkling of being camp or whimsy with him, leaving behind an atmosphere that becomes increasingly arid even as it strains toward sensory saturation.
This is a dark, dark, dark film, focused on an obsession so complete and lonely it shuts out all other human experience. You may not savour it, but you will not stop watching it, in horror and fascination. Ben Whishaw succeeds in giving us no hint of his character save a deep savage need. And Dustin Hoffman produces a quirky old master whose life is also governed by perfume, if more positively. Dustin Hoffman reminds us here again, what a detailed and fascinating character actor he is, able to bring to the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille precisely what humour and humanity it needs, and then tactfully leaving it at that. Even his exit is nicely timed.
Keeping in mind that this isn’t the type of film we’re used to seeing, some of these scenes can come off very quirky. For example, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille sniffing the air and following his nose like some sort of psychopathic bloodhound does indeed look ridiculous, but if you allow yourself to buy into the film’s central premise, it’s easily forgivable. What’s more unconventional, though, is that it’s nearly impossible to like and let alone relate to Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. He’s a selfish, unflinching murderer, and all his means are carried out for narcissistic ends. This isn’t a case of a charming killer like Hannibal Lecter or Patrick Batemen; Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is so detached.
I really love this film because it is all character driven, beautifully acted and the cinematography is out of this world. Of course there is nothing fun about the story, except the way it ventures so fearlessly down one limited, terrifying, seductive dead end, and finds there a solution both sublime and horrifying. It took imagination to tell it, courage to film it, thought to act it, and from the audience it requires a brave curiosity about the peculiarity of obsession.
That doesn’t mean, though, that 'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer' isn’t worth watching. Quite the opposite, 'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer' is an unconventional and clever way to tell an incredibly interesting story, and one that I know I won’t soon forget. It’s not a perfect film, and like I mentioned, some scenes may come off as a bit silly. But overall, I definitely recommend 'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer,' as I’m sure you haven’t seen a tale of a freakish murderer presented with such depth.
Blu-ray Video Quality – 'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer' is presented with a striking and stunning 1080p encoded image that both thrilled and engaged my eyes, boasting vivid colours, strong reds and blues, and a stable, well saturated palette, especially the roses in the perfumer's shop look like a painting. Fine object detail is equally remarkable, just look at the crowd in the opening scene and the long shots of the cities. Every individual in the streets is clearly distinguishable and sharp. The black levels are deep and add a nice amount of dimension to what could have been a flat, shadowy picture. Most impressive of all is the texture detail. In facial close-ups, each actor's pores, and every strand of hair is crystal clear. Shots that follow the trail of a scent are also rendered wonderfully, in fact, they're so detailed at times that you almost feel as if you've been put within the mind-set of Jean Baptiste himself. As strong as this transfer is, I did notice a couple of lingering and albeit inconsequential issues. First off, there's some occasional colour banding present around unfocused edges, look at the close-up of the child's finger in the orphanage. Secondly, some random shots of darkness have a slight cloud of artifacting [A compression artefact or artefact, is a noticeable distortion of media, including images, audio, and video, caused by the application of lossy data compression], especially watching the night sky when Jean Baptiste stares across the water at the city. I should emphasise that these issues only pop up a handful of times, and they hardly mar this otherwise gorgeous transfer. All things considered, if you are definitely seeking the Dutch Blu-ray release 'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer,' won't be let down by the visuals with this beautiful stunning Blu-ray Dutch Release and of course the bonus is that it is All Regions release.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – 'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer' features an original English language track, which is presented using the awesome 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround track. While the film's stellar video transfer enabled me to further immerse myself in 18th century France, this audio package did not. To be fair, there's isn't anything technically wrong with this mix and it's just dominated by John Hurt's narration and the film's musical score. The surround channels aren't used to their potential, dynamics are not so strong at times, and the soundscape is relatively quiet. On the bright side, the score's instrumentation is warm and well prioritised, dialogue is crisp, even during soft whispers part, and channel movement is subtle. The strong suits of the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and delivers a more immersive overall aural experience than expected.
Finally, 'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer' is a fascinating and surreal exploration of a demented mind. Apparently, Jean-Baptiste has an alpha and omega for his plot and the last half hour of the film was truly the strangest and most unbelievable. We are whisked back to the gathering at the town square shown in the beginning. Again, I don’t want to give away this portion either, but it’s just as unbelievable as the first. For the most part, I did enjoy this film, strictly because the concept is definitely unusual. The most shocking scenes could be construed as not being very realistic, though. I was a bit confused by the ending, so I had to conduct further research before I understood it. Ben Whishaw’s performance as a disturbed individual with a seemingly placid demeanour was wonderful. Those into abnormal psychology will have a field day at this film. Interestingly enough, I came out of it with some well-appreciated knowledge: how perfume is made! Basically, go into this movie with an open mind and prepare to see some behaviour that will shock you, but does not detract from the storyline. Fans, like me of the film are sure to be entranced by the visuals on this Dutch import Blu-ray disc, and they will be easily impressed by the awesome and stunning DTS audio track and I think this European All Regions Blu-ray disc has a stunning presentation, compared to the USA Region A/1 Blu-ray Release. Sadly there are no Extras, which is such a shame, but despite that, it is still worth purchasing this awesome Blu-ray disc. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom