Perfume: the film
Perfume is essentially a rather silly film, but, as someone fascinated by the sense of smell, I found it really interesting. Based on the best-selling novel by Patrick Süskind (which sold over 15 million copies), when it was released in 2006 it was hailed as Germany's most expensive ever film (see this report).
The setting is 18th century France, and the depictions of the grimy bits of Paris at the time are as visually stunning as they are shocking. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born into poverty, but posesses a remarkable talent: he can smell better than anyone else. Much better.
After a chance encounter with a failing master perfumier, played by Dustin Hofmann, Grenouille finds his vocation, creating wonderful scents. But he knows he is missing a magic ingredient, and to find this he embarks on a grisly, murderous quest.
The film descends into a black comedy, which is a shame, because it explores some interesting issues. Chiefly, the idea that for most of us the sense of smell is imprecise and somehow incomplete. It's a sense that has the ability to communicate in a very direct and raw way with our emotions, but much of the time it is strangely muted. I know from walking my dog that there is a whole world of olfactory sensations out there, which, to us humans, is out of our reach. The idea that someone could inhabit that world is a really interesting one.