Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Perfume: The Book vs The Movie

I saw Perfume : The Story of a Murderer movie a few months back and i chanced upon a copy of the novel while browsing through the shelves in a bookstore. I picked it up to find out what elements of the book had the movie failed to capture. The main character, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, is described as "one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages".
The story then moves to describe how as a baby (one who is born in the middle of the filthiest and smelliest parts of Paris), Jean Baptiste does not have a baby-odour or in other words, Jean Baptiste does not have personal human odor. What he does possess is an extraordinary "olfactory" functions- his heightened sense of smell. As he grows up, he develops an uncontrollable desire to create the perfect perfume- one that will make up for his lack of personal scent and transform him into a human. Grenouille is a cold hearted, emotionless individual who in the entire plot is only driven by his incessant need to create the perfect scent. As a reader,one cringes at Grenouille's life and ultimately at how it ends.

However, in the movie, Grenouille [played by actor Ben Whishaw], one cannot help but feel sorry for Grenouille and in a strange way, understand his need for creating the perfect scent.All in all, it was definitely the movie over the book for me. The book drags at times when it goes into details of the various processes that are deployed in creating a perfume- making one skim over several chapters. I'd give the movie a 8/10 and the book 6/10 for keeping me hooked

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