Perfume is the story of a man obsessed with the smell of a perfect scent, namely that found emanating from a wonderfully intoxicating parfum. In order to obtain the most exotic of blends to achieve the most unusual of scents, creators of those perfumes must consistently, and obsessively, search out the most exquisite fragrances. The 1985 novel of just such a search, simply titled Perfume, follows the life of Grenouille as he becomes intent on acquiring the most perfect scent of all, that of a virginal woman. To extract such a component, however, costs the life of the bearer. Thus Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, in perfecting his perfumes, must continually extinguish the life of his founts.
There is much darkness in the story because it peers into the deep crevasses of an insatiably fixated person, who knows no end to the perfection that he seeks. The full score that encompasses over 70 minutes of music is conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, whose many years within the folds of the orchestra, adroitly handles this exploration with grace and expertise. As a composition of Tom Tykwer (who also directed the film), and the duo composers, Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil, this highlights a maturity in score work, especially from Klimek & Heil, whose previous works include scores for The Cave, One Hour Photo, Land of the Dead, and Run Lola Run (also directed by Tom Tykwer). On the pieces that include soprano voices (Chen Reiss, Melanie Mitrano, and boy soprano, Victor De Maiziere, the songs become mesmerizing.
The music of Perfume is majestic and brilliant, at times, exuding a soft danger that creeps from within the psyche of the killer, at other times, hesitant, barely breathing, and at all times, atmospheric. The score follows every nuance of the film perfectly, filling out the moments with the essence of a character and guiding the emotions of a viewer.
The score of Perfume – The Story of a Murderer is a beautiful orchestral film score masterwork. It stands alone well without the need for film images to support it and yet the film cannot be supported without it. In all actuality, this may be the best score of a film in 2006. What this means is that the Academy, once again, has bowed to popularity and has forsaken superior work for some that are less worthy, which makes the film score for Perfume an irredeemable snub.