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Perfume - The Story Of A Murderer (2007)

Ben Whishaw , Dustin Hoffman , Tom Tykwer  |  R |  DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (546 customer reviews)

Price: $49.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Ben Whishaw, Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman, Francesc Albiol, Gonzalo Cunill
  • Directors: Tom Tykwer
  • Writers: Tom Tykwer, Bernd Eichinger, Andrew Birkin, Patrick Süskind
  • Producers: Andreas Grosch, Andreas Schmid, Bernd Eichinger
  • Format: Subtitled, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Dreamworks Video
  • DVD Release Date: July 24, 2007
  • Run Time: 147 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (546 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000QUCNOK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,014 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Perfume - The Story Of A Murderer" on IMDb

Special Features

  • The Story of Perfume

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Based on Patrick Suskind's novel about a serial killer who hunts victims with his superhuman sense of smell, Perfume: Story of a Murderer is a florid, grisly portrayal of this historical drama set in 18th century France. Jean-Baptiste Grunuis (Ben Whishaw) is born under his mother's table at the fish market, onto a pile of muddy fish guts, establishing from the beginning his repulsion for putrid scents. A childhood of neglect and, later, a job at a tannery, encourage Jean-Baptiste to develop his olfactory sense rather than his verbal skills, so that an opportunity to prove his worth to Parisian perfumist, Giuseppe Baldini (Dustin Hoffman), results in his immediate hire into a promising new career. His successes in perfume mixing are negated by a blinding obsession for capturing the sublime beauty of human soul, which in his twisted logic requires the killing of young women to reduce their body fats to essential oils for the ultimate, cannibalized eau de parfum. An omniscient narrator tells the story with much sympathy for Jean-Baptiste's perverted psychology, making it, often, too obvious that his need for love justifies his murderous desire to capture misguided sexual attractions in a vile. Continuous close-ups of Grunius's nose, countered by close-ups of the places and objects he smells, enhance the viewer's understanding of his sensitivity. Repeated comparisons are made between the killer and dogs who aid, then expose his sick experimentation. The settings are fascinating, especially Baldini's perfumery and some later scenes in enflorage factories outside Provence. Whishaw's and Hoffman's performances are both grand. But Perfume unnecessarily spells out Jean-Baptiste's psychosis, squelching any chance for metaphor. This is unfortunate, considering the story's paradoxical nature. As this crude hunter navigates his way through a world of utmost delicacy, one craves ambiguity rather than explanation. --Trinie Dalton

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Product Description

Based on the bestselling novel, Perfume is a story of an obsession so overwhelming that it leads to murder. In 18th-century France lived Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw), who was born with a phenomenal sense of smell. But as his gift becomes an obsession, he strives to create the most intoxicating perfume in the world by murdering young women to capture their essence.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
190 of 201 people found the following review helpful
It must be a daunting task when a filmmaker attempts to adapt a novel that has been deemed "unfilmable." Such is the challenge Tom Tykwer (the audacious "Run, Lola, Run") accepted when he decided to film "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer," the wildly popular cult novel by Patrick Suskind first printed in the US in 1986. Intrinsic to the success of telling the tale of "Perfume" is to convey a palpable sense of "smell" and its intoxicating powers. While a book may do this with pages and pages of prose, a film does not have this descriptive luxury--hence, it must attempt some sort of visual shorthand. I'm pleased to say that Tykwer was up to the task. With vivid art direction, stunning visuals, and bold editing choices--you feel, almost, as if you can smell this peculiar tale. While this may sound like dubious praise, it is actually the highest compliment.

Set in 18th century France, "Perfume" relates the tragic tale of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw). Born and almost killed in a fish market, raised in an orphanage, put into manual (and often dangerous) service at a young age, Jean-Baptiste is a disaffected and disconnected youth. Having no social skills and lacking any kind of normal emotional processes, the one thing that differentiates Jean-Baptiste is his keen sense of smell. It seems to be the only thing that connects him to the world he lives in. A chance visit to the city brings him to a perfume shop/manufacturer. Captivated by this world that revolves around the olfactory senses, Jean-Baptiste aggressively pursues a position with the proprietor (Dustin Hoffman). After achieving some success and freedom, he becomes obsessed with procuring the perfect scent--one that he once smelled in the "essence" of a beautiful young woman.
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59 of 68 people found the following review helpful
If you're looking for something unusual, unconventional and unpredictable, "Perfume" is your film. I am not saying this will give a pleasant smell to you. Probably some people would be attracted to the complexity of the strange world where olfactory perception means everything. Or some would loath the film's story and main character itself, especially the conclusion. Whatever you may find it, Tom Tykwer's "Perfume" remains intriguing throughout as allegorical tale, dark comedy or serial killer suspense. Pick your choice.

With John Hurt as narrator with slightly mocking tone, the eventful life story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is introduced, and from the very first moment you realize "Perfume" is no ordinary film. The film successfully conveys how Paris in the 18th century (at least one certain district) smelled really bad, with too realistic scene of its fish market, which is followed by the birth of Jean-Baptiste. His life is destined to be a different one, and the first chapter fully convinces us of his fate.

Ben Whishaw plays adult Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, and his wonderful acting as the (anti-)hero virtually carries the entire film to the last. Typical rags-to-riches drama is given a twist when other characters step in his life. First Jean-Baptiste is apprenticed to Giuseppe Baldini, second-rate perfumer who lost his skills. Dustin Hoffman's fake Italian accent may annoy you, but wait for what happens. Jean-Baptiste creates a "hit" perfume with his superb olfactory sense, making Baldini a rich person, and then ... see it for yourself. The story is not definitely Charles Dickens.

Beautiful Rachel Hurd-Wood and Alan Rickman are both memorable as aristocratic father and his only daughter.
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46 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The scent of desire May 19, 2007
Format:DVD
How exactly do you make a movie about smells? After all, a movie is all about sight and sound. Touch, taste and smell rarely come into it.

But acclaimed German director Tom Tykwer manages to make us smell things, in his most disturbing movie to date, "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer." This time around, the talented Tykwer abandons his usual lovers-against-the-world stories for a lushly-filmed, darkly comic story of olfactory obsession. Yes, that is what I said.

Jean-Baptiste Grenouillle (Ben Whishaw) is a man with a brilliant sense of smell, and zero body odor. He was born in a putrid fishmarket, raised in an orphanage, and later escapes from a tannery where he was working. He's enraptured by the many thrilling smells in the city -- he even kills a young girl, so that he can smell her lovely scent.

In his search for the perfect scent, Jean-Baptiste gets a job with a once-famed perfume-maker (Dustin Hoffman). But after learning that not everything has a scent, he begins killing women to try to distill their scents into the ultimate perfume -- with beautiful redhead Laura (Rachel Hurd-Wood) as the "thirteenth scent." But his ultimate scent has an even more sinister side, as his scents begin to affect the population in unusual ways.

"Perfume" is Tykwer's most unique movie to date, and the one that definitely identifies him as a cinematic master. There are lots of music that are evocative, sensual, colourfully beautiful, or unspeakably creepy, but not many manage to be all of them. "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" is all of those, and more.

Obviously a movie doesn't smell like anything, except maybe stale popcorn. So Tykwer uses sight for smell -- rotted fish, maggots, moldy walls from the late 1700s to show Jean-Baptiste's miserable origins.
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