Saturday, September 16, 2006

Das Parfum

So, I've seen "Das Parfum", yesterday. Great pictures, great camera, great costumes, great sets but altogether very disappointing. After a gorgeous, marvellous start( The monsterbaby-sequence is great), I became less and less interested in Grenouille himself, couldn't share his obsession for a second, and how should that be possible, if everything you are supposed to believe and understand is told to you by tons of voice-over-narration. There is nothing left of the demonic Grenouille from the book, ( The baby is a hundred times scarier ), but this guy feels more like a retarded Kaspar Hauser-like idiot, and that embarrasing tear running down his cheek to conveniently redeem him in the end ultimatly kills the character for me. He should be a revolting chap,almost Gollum-like, with a fascinating, paranormal gift and the ultimate wish to be loved by everybody, for his soul, despite of his abnormity ( think : The Elephantman) but this is the big mistake the script makes : Here Grenouille doesn't want to be loved and accepted, his goal is to create and conserve the ultimate smell, in other words : the filmakers replace a quest of the heart for a scientific one of the brain.

Consequently the ending doesn't work: Instead of being loved to death by the crowds - at what should have been his execution-and that would be the only place to do it, the characters darkest hour- he causes a poonah-ashram-megaorgy , but he's not the center of it, but just a spectator... In some parts the movie wishes to play alongside "silence of the lambs", especially the -cooking the ladies-parts, but Grenouille can't hold a candle to good ol' Hannibal Lectar, who truly, in all his villainess , is a fascinating character.

Dustin Hoffman is great ( unimaginable , what he would have done with the role in his prime ) and his sequence is the nicest one to watch, he portrays a sad, pathetic character past his prime, I absolutly can identitfy with, at least he has a goal, he struggling for survival, whereas ,...ah you know what I mean, his comic death is totally out of place and destroys the atmosphere of the movie once and for all- just plain ,, bad directing.. whereas Alan Rickman's character is portrayed as a rationalist, obsessive father, who votes for a systemetical police-operation to capture the monster, badmouthing the supersticious methods of the church, but then he inconsequently leaves his palace and home, threatens to destroy his daughter's life, because of a bad dream. Why ? Because it looks good ! And here's another thing I can't believe : Grasse is a village right ? A village specialized on the perfume-making-trade , right ? They find corpses of young woman, with shaved heads and perfumer's fat on their bodis and inspite of the fact, that everybody in town is dealing with perfumes one way or the other and knows the trade inside out nobody concludes, there could be a perfumer behind it ? Maybe that strange genius that everybody knows and finds awkward,and why for heaven's sake can't they find the murderer anyway , this is not Manhattan, mind you ! And what I didn't get, did he treat the girls on the spot, I mean in church or on the marketsquare, or why is it, that they find their corpses there and their hair and clothes buried in his backyard, or could it be, that, again, it simply looks good to put a naked girl in front of an altar ? My guess is, they wanted that shot, most of the time the movie feels like its makers used the novel to create stunning pictures, rather than believable characters and a compelling story. I think ultimatly it comes down to the old problem, if people (and producers ) want to create an event , something everybody talks about, well most of the times, this is what you get). Anyway, it wasn't exactly an evening wasted, still good entertainment and a feast for the eyes, go check out for yourself, H


Boris Hiestand said...

I read the book a long time ago, and always wanted to make a film about it. Let's get together in 10 years for the remake, and do it right!

HaraldSiepermann said...

Deal !

Witzzard said...

I'm think you're wrong on the ending *reads the end again*. But i might misunterstood you, and i didn't watched the movie yet...

In the book he also didn't die in Grasse, where the execution should have take place in. He escapes Grasse by using a bit of the parfume, causing the masses in front of him to an orgy.
He get killed in Paris, because he uses the rest of his parfume and the people (30 persons) love him so much that everyone wants to own a part of him...

So i hope my english isn't too bad, but i didn't want to post it in german, while it seems most of your readers speak english...

Ali said...

Fools! It should never have been a film. It must be read. The descriptions of smells can't translate to visuals. They must be descibed in words. Even the greatest film makers could not have made a film to equal the book. Why does everything have to be a movie any way? And why is a music video director making it? This so cheapens the book. Süskind must be screaming inside.

Boris Hiestand said...

just wait til you see our remake in 10 years you non believer! I'm developing my own smell-o-cine, or cine-smell, it'll be great!

HaraldSiepermann said...

My local cinemeplex smells worse than the smelliest part of 18th century -paris-fishmarkets, anyway.

Hans said...

I didn't know it was made into a movie, I definitely have to see it, but am sad to hear it sucks. I really enjoyed the book when I read it about 7-8 years ago. Can't wait to see your version in 10 years;)


HaraldSiepermann said...

Witzard, I can't really rememer the book, except that it was great, must have been 20 years since I read it. Anyway, a movie is something different from a book and it should stand for itself and be something more than just an illustration of he written word, or we'd would be talking about an " illustrated classics-comicook". And the ending in the movie felt wrongly timed and redundant. But I think , this is exactly where he movie goes wrong, it feels so much appreciation for the book that it doesn't dare to do anything else, but delivering nice pictures for it instead of becoming something on its own. Look at P. Jackson and what he did to LOTR and you'll see how things can be done right, he neglected complete chapters for the sake of a good and smooth movie-story.

Unknown said...

I am somewhat obsessed with the book after having read both in English and in German. I was really excited to hear that Tykwer was directing it. (whoever called him just a music video director obviously has never seen Lola Rennt or Der Krieger und die Kaiserin--both really awesome films) It does seem to me that a lot of criticism here is because he followed the story line almost without waver. First, I think the complaint usually comes when a director doesn't do this. Readers feel like they have been cheated out of part of the book they love so much. Also it is important to remember that Patrick Suskind is an absolute recluse and getting him to sell the movie rights was likely one of the most difficult tasks facing the making of this movie. It's likely that in a lot of ways the Tykwer and his film were strongly influenced by the wishes of Mr. Suskind. (so for those of you remaking the film in 10 years, you might go ahead and get on that movie rights thing now...)
Also, for those of you turned off from reading those negative blogs, don't give up hope. Check it out for yourself. It did win two BAMBI awards. The BAMBI Jury gave their reasons for the awards as follows: "The opulent film adaptation of Patrick Süskind's novel receives the BAMBI because it is enchanting millions of people with its flood of images and its sensuality. And because it proves that the apparently impossible can sometimes be achieved after all." It's making a hit all over Europe. Maybe Americans just aren't getting it. I think that the intensity of the spoken German language and that it replaces much action/dialogue tends to turn American viewers off.

PS: Does anyone know where I might be able to purchase this in the US???

Unknown said...

I think although this movie was executed well (visuals, exceptional actors, music choice) the actual point of the story irritated me. It makes me interested enough to want to read the book but it might just make me more angry. As a feminist I can't help but look at this film from that perspective, and I have to admit I was completely disgusted. Basically you have a sociopath who decides he needs to kill women and rob them of their soul (as it is said "The scent of a thing is its very soul")I found this to be an obscenely figurative form of rape. The fact that he utilized this scent to make everyone love him made me think "So the point is that women have the power to rule the world but only a man can harness it?" Perhaps I was looking too deeply or maybe I missed the point entirely, but after the film ended I felt entirely blase. Maybe if I read the book I shall feel differently but it may merely be the premise that causes me such discontent.

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