Wednesday, January 10, 2007
A few words on Perfume
If you aren't familiar with Perfume by Patrick Suskind, I couldn't recommend it more. It's my favorite book. There is little I can say about it without either gushing nonstop about how great it is, or giving the plot entirely away.

I will say that most people would consider this to be a horror story, but that would depend on how you define "horror". It's definitely not a horror novel along the lines of Stephen King or Dean Koontz. It's horror like Poe was horror. Horror like Lovecraft. Which personally, I think of as being more Grotesque than Horror. "Horror" to me is a little more mainstream, while Perfume is unlike anything else.

A film adaptation has been made of this book by a director I respect. I finally had the chance to see this film on Monday.

Y'all know I only say a lot about the bad films. This was so close to perfect that I could not have been any happier. It was as true to the novel as it possibly could have been, considering that film as a storytelling medium has limitations as compared to the written word. The only change I noted was to the main character's appearance. Without giving much away, I can say that in the novel, the main character was hideously ugly. Ugly almost to the point of deformity. In the film, he was fairly nondescript. Not handsome, rather scarred, and quite dirty most of the time. But not, like, Quasimodo or anything. But I think maybe it actually works better if he's nondescript.

The only criticism I have is this: the film had a narrator, and the narrator sounded kind of like Burgess Meredith. It was a very benign, friendly, inviting kind of voice, and it really didn't fit the story. I suppose in a way, Perfume is a dark fairy tale. But it's still not the kind of thing that would be narrated in a whimsical fashion by some kindly old man.

But that's kind of a bitchy criticism, and it didn't detract at all from the experience.

Overall, you could tell a lot of time, money, and love went into this project. Things looked pretty much exactly as I had imagined them while reading. The acting was fantastic. And as I said earlier, the story itself is like no other. But, this kind of story is not for everyone. So I'd recommend it, but particularly if you find yourself drawn to the dark and sinister.