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Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) is born in the dirt and stench of the fish market in Paris in the year 1738. His mother is working on the fish market and had several stillbirths already. She assumes her baby as dead as the others and immediately returns to her work after giving birth, leaving the baby unattended in the dirt. But Jean-Baptiste lives, and when he starts crying and people notice what has happened, his mother is sentenced to death as a child murderer, and Jean-Baptiste grows up in the orphanage of Madame Gaillard (Sian Thomas). Very soon Jean-Baptiste realizes he is different – he has a perfect sense of smell.
At age eight, Madame Gaillard sells Jean-Baptiste to the tannery of Grimal. Most of the workers there don’t survive the hard work for more than five years, but Jean-Baptiste is a survivor. When Jean-Baptiste makes deliveries for Grimal in the city of Paris, he discovers a whole new world of smells, and he is mesmerized by the scent of a young woman selling fruits. He follows the girl’s scent and sneaks up on her to enjoy her odor. The girl is frightened, Jean-Baptiste tries to silence her and chokes her accidentally. He inhales her aroma but is shocked when it volatilizes.
Then he makes a delivery to ageing, once famous but now nonsignificant perfumer Guiseppe Baldini (Dustin Hoffman) and becomes his apprentice. Jean-Baptiste is eager to learn how to preserve scents, but Baldini’s knowledge can’t satisfy him. For the price of one hundred recipes for great perfumes Baldini issues Jean-Baptiste a journeyman’s certificate so he can go to Grasse, the capital of scents, and learn more about the art of capturing smells.
During his journey he realizes that he doesn’t have a scent of his own and is a nobody for all the other people who do have their own odor. He doesn’t want to be a nobody forever – he wants to be somebody, and decides what he needs is a perfect perfume.
The scent that turns out to be Jean-Baptiste’s passion is the aroma of beautiful young women, and soon after Jean-Baptiste’s arrival in Grasse, dead bodies of naked young women with clipped hair are found. More and more young girls are found dead, and the city grows into a state of panic and is desperate to catch the demonic serial killer.

Many directors have tried before to make a film based on the book Patrick S%C3%BCskind, amongst them Stanley Kubrick, Tim Burton and Ridley Scott, but all of them gave up convinced it was impossible. And what can be harder to show in movie theatres than a story mainly about smells, with a leading man who is a creepy serial killer who hardly talks and experiences the world through scents?
Director Tom Tykwer and producer Bernd Eichinger accepted the challenge and adapted the book to a screenplay together with Andrew Birkin, and they did the impossible – they captured the world of scents and brought it to the big screen. And it works.
Credit goes not only to Tom Tykwer and the actors Ben Whishaw, Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman and Rachel Hurd-Wood, but also to the musical score (by Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer) and to cinematographer Frank Griebe who make the invisible world of scents come to life on the screen.
If you are ready for the experience of an unusual story about a serial killer who just wants what everybody wants – to be loved – then don’t miss this newest addition to the line of “impossible” film versions of bestselling novels.

PERFUME Movie Trailer

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