1. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is about Jean-Baptiste Grenouille: an outcast in society, a man without a family or a history, and an emptiness carved deep into the tattered center of his soul that he spends his entire life trying to fill, right until his last breath.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is based on Das Perfum, a 1985 novel by German author Patrick Süskind, a richly detailed tapestry that unwinds down to the end of a man who’s always loved the world around him but never felt like anything other than an outsider. Jean-Baptiste does not possess a scent of his own, but he can smell everyone around him. He isn’t able to see himself as being a normal part of this world at all, even after becoming a skilled creator of perfumes beloved by high-class society and all of those around him. He just never feels like he belongs.
In the end, the only way he is able to feel like he can exist naturally in society is to give himself up until he is completely gone, when he no longer has anything to give, after creating the best perfume he’s ever made – before his last breath.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer isn’t supernatural or hard to understand. We all know what it is like to feel like we do not belong here and have been made to feel like we shouldn’t belong here at least. What makes Perfume unique and sad, alongside its horrors, is how hard Jean-Baptiste tries to feel real, before giving up and deciding that creating beautiful art was all he could ever do.
Kurt Cobain of Nirvana managed to find catharsis in the story of Perfume, keeping a copy of Patrick Süskind’s novel with him while traveling on tours, and even going on to use the story as inspiration for the pained lyrics of “Scentless Apprentice,” a track from the album In Utero (1993), which just turned 30.
Perfume is a must-see for everyone, because we all know what it’s like to feel like we’re intruding into everyone else’s world.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is available to stream on Pluto TV.