Monday, April 9, 2012

Perfume - a message to Patrick Süskind

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006) is the most expensive German movie till today with a 50 million dollar budget. Directed by Tom Tykwer it was an enormous risk but turned out as a great financial success in Europe. The producers did not quite know how to market it in the USA and it failed there for this reason only. For this is a captivating and very well made movie.

Presence of the Devil

Devilish crowd control (ref)

Perfume movie is among the finest appearances of the Devil, the Ruler of this world, that I have seen.

Especially powerful is the power of the Dark Lord over the crowd and even the rather mockingly presented priest in the public execution scene. Also remarkable in this context is the sometimes Christ-like appearance of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille so aptly acted by Benjamin John "Ben" Whishaw (born 1980).

The movie Perfume is essentially evil.

And so are we.

The movie is a good commentary on the words of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John as it is built on the two things characterizing Devil  - he is a liar and a murderer.

"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it."
John 8:44 KJ21

The entire movie is a total lie and scene after scene, so skilfully filmed in historically exceptionally accurate environments, is total bullshit. No such things have ever happened in human history. For this reason, the movie is very truthful about the human condition - we love to live in darkness, lies, orgies, carnal lusts, public dismembering and all kind of evil deeds of the darkness.

Getting the scent of a woman from her skin with this technique 
would actually not require murdering her (ref)

The movie is about murder. Also in its depiction of a serial killer, the public interest in such a character, the acts of killing perfectly beautiful virgins, sacrificing them for the cause, the movie full of lies is very truthful.

Good is destroyed by evil. Nothing new is created, as the Devil is not capable of creating new things. He can only corrupt God's good works and is very effective in that.

God loves good scents - here they are turned into the cause of the murderous obsession of a serial killer.

God has created the wonderful young virgin, of whom Virgin Mary is the most famous, and here they are utterly destroyed.

Father (Alan Rickman) loves his lovely daughter Laura (Rachel Clare Hurd-Wood) above all. In real life, he would probably have killed Jean-Baptiste with his sword instead of being charmed by the scent created partly from her daughter's skin to call the obsessive killer "his son". 

Devil has no mercy.

Jean-Baptiste reaches the perfect Perfume, but instead of becoming happy and satisfied, he uses it to destroy himself and the low life of Paris night devour him alive.

God has mercy and forgives even the worst sins because of Jesus Christ.

Also in this the movie so full of lies and distortions is very truthful. For in the real world people prefer the merciless Devil and his exciting evil over the boring, merciful God.

The Dirt

To say that the sceneries are meticulously created
would be a blatant understatement!

The honest and truthful settings and sceneries in the movie Perfume are pure art. To reach this level of historical accuracy in every detail must have required massive research and preparations.

But especially outstanding in the movie Perfume is the depiction of dirt suggesting stench. This in contrast to the hospital sterile historical cities in many other movies.

Our measure was to make the film look as though we were simply there. Not to put something on a platter, but rather to treat everything as though it was truly there. Which turned out to be an unimaginably complicated process. Every last thing had to be made, every building decorated. We wanted to create the feeling that we'd got inside a time machine, and just happened to have a camera team with us and we could have filmed any part of the 18th century. So that the viewer has the feeling of normality. The normality of the architecture, the normality of the dirt. The historical reality.
In the titles a "Dirt Surface Crew" comes up.It sounds like the name of a rock band. That was a vital unit for the set design. Not only did they have the insane job of covering all the walls and surfaces - some of which were parts of real cities - in a layer of filth, they also had to wash it all off as soon as the shooting was over. And it generally takes a lot more time to clean something than to make it dirty. And of course the cities were very anxious that we should avoid turning their museum-like streets into a permanent inferno. From an interview of director Tom Tykwer

Das Parfum

The movie is based on the novel Das Parfum (1986) that was a phenomenal success and stayed for nine years in the best-seller list. However, beyond selling the rights to his book, Süskind did not participate in any way in the making of the movie.

... is a 1985 literary historical cross-genre novel (originally published in German as Das Parfum) by German writer Patrick Süskind. The novel explores the sense of smell and its relationship with the emotional meaning that scents may carry. Above all this is a story of identity, communication and the morality of the human spirit.

The story focuses on Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a perfume apprentice in 18th century France who, born with no body scent himself, begins to stalk and murder virgins in search of the "perfect scent", which he finds in a young woman named Laura, whom his acute sense of smell finds in a secluded private garden in Grasse.

Patrick Süskind - the reclusive theologian
The exceptionally powerful presence of Evil in this movie made me curious about you. For being able to depict Devil so accurately one must necessarily know him personally. Despite of your family name, you are apparently not a sweet kid but this is not the point: the touch of evil is particularly well known to saints.

So I was curious how you can write on such a theological and spiritual depth about the true human condition and present us with the twisted reality of lies in which the world prefers to live in?

Well - these are two clues that I found that go some way to explain the scary depths and overall complexity of your book and the exceptionally realistic presence of the Devil in the production.

1. You have illustrious Christian ancestors in your family, the famous Biblisist Bengel and the reformer Brenz. Theology goes in your heritage and flows in your veins.

2. You have very close knowledge about some of the worst horrors committed by humans, the Nazi era, as your father, journalist Wilhelm Emanuel Süskind worked on the famous Aus dem Wörterbuch des Unmenschen. It is unlikely that you did not read his book or understand the banality of evil, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it.

Patrick Süskind ...was born in Ambach am Starnberger See, near Munich in Germany. His father was writer and journalist Wilhelm Emanuel Süskind, who worked for the well-established Süddeutsche Zeitung and is famous as the co-author of the well-known "Aus dem Wörterbuch des Unmenschen" ("From the Dictionary of an Inhuman"), a critical collection of essays on the language of the Nazi era.

Patrick Süskind went to school in Holzhausen, a little Bavarian village. His mother worked as a sports trainer; his older brother Martin E. Süskind is also a journalist. Süskind has many relatives from the aristocracy in Württemberg, making him one of the descendants of the exegete Johann Albrecht Bengel and of the reformer Johannes Brenz. After his Abitur and his Zivildienst, he studied Medieval and Modern History at the University of Munich and in Aix-en-Provence from 1968-1974. Süskind also attended lessons in English, Spanish, Latin, Greek, Politics, Art and Theology but, apparently, never graduated.

Financially supported by his parents, he moved to Paris where he wrote "mainly short, unpublished fiction and longer screenplays which were not made into films" as he once said self-deprecatingly.

Süskind lives reclusively in Munich, in Seeheim (Lake Starnberg) and in France (probably Paris and Montolieu). The public knows little about Süskind currently. He has withdrawn from the literary scene in Germany and never grants interviews or allows photos.

Patrick, come to Jesus!
With such a close encounter with personal evil, my advice to Patrick is: come to Jesus.

The imaginary Jean-Baptiste created by you was saved from having his body smashed over a sturdy St. Andrew's cross. His end was nevertheless aweful on the stinky stones of Paris.

The real John Baptist had his head severed by an iron sword. Yet, because of Jesus his end was to get to smell the flowers of Paradise.

The Lamb of God, Crucified Jesus Christ, is the only one who can deal with the Devil you seem to know so well.

Jesus is the only one the Devil is seriously afraid of.

Wer Sünde tut, der ist vom Teufel; denn der Teufel sündigt von Anfang.
Dazu ist erschienen der Sohn Gottes, daß er die Werke des Teufels zerstöre.
1 John 3:8

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