Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Synopsis: Jean-Baptiste Grenouille came into the world unwanted, expected to die, yet born with an unnerving sense of smell that created alienation as well as talent. Of all the smells around him, Grenouille is beckoned to the scent of a woman's soul, and spends the rest of his life attempting to smell her essence again by becoming a perfumer, and creating the essence of an innocence lost.
Genre: Crime, Drama, Fantasy
Director(s): Tom Tykwer
Production: Dreamworks
  15 wins & 18 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
147 min


We can't hold them back much longer.


- Come on!

- Get up!



Open the doors. Come on, quickly!

Just read them the sentence.

The sentence of the court

is that in two days hence

the perfumerjourneyman

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille

shall be bound to a wooden cross

with his face raised toward heaven.

And whilst still alive

be dealt twelve blows

with an iron rod

breaking the joints of his arms,

his shoulders,

his hips,

his legs.

He shall then be raised up

to hang until dead

and all customary acts of mercy

are expressly forbidden

the executioner.

In 18th-century France,

there lived a man who was

one of the most gifted

and notorious personages

of his time.

His name was

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille,

and if his name has been

forgotten today, it is

for the reason that his ambition

was restricted to a domain

that leaves no trace in history:

To the fleeting realm of scent.

In the period of which we speak,

there reigned

in the cities a stench

barely conceivable to us

modern men and women.

Naturally, the stench

was foulest in Paris,

for Paris was

the largest city in Europe.

And nowhere in Paris was that

stench more profoundly repugnant

than in the city's fish market

Here we are.

I'll get another box.

It was here, then, on the most

putrid spot in the whole kingdom,

that Jean-Baptiste Grenouille

was born

on the 17th of July, 1738.

It was his mother's fifth birth.

She'd delivered them all here

under her fshstand,

and all had been stillbirths,

or semi- stillbirths,

You all right?

And the whole mess was shoveled

with the f/shguts into the river.

It would be

much the same today

but then,

Jean-Baptiste chose differently.

What's that noise?

- It's a baby.

- What's going on here?

It's a newborn.

Where's its mother?

She was just here.

She tried to kill it.

Her own child.

She tried to kill her baby!

There! There she is!

Stop! Stop where you are!


Thus, the frst sound

to escape Grenouille's lips

sent his mother to the gallows

and Jean-Baptiste,

by offcial order,

to the orphanage

of Madame Gaillard.

How many today?

Four. Well, three and a half.

As usual, more dead than alive.

Just take the money and sign.

Make room.

- Where?

- Move!

Go on, now.

Is it dead?

That's not staying in my bed.

- Let's throw it out, then.

- What if it screams?

Let's just kill it.

Harder! Push!

What are you doing?

For Mme Gaillard, Grenouille was a

source of income, like any other.

The children, however,

sensed at once

that there was something

different about him.

By the age of fve, Jean-Baptiste

still could not talk.

But he was born with a talent that

made him unique among mankind.

It was not that the other

children hated him,

they felt unnerved by him.

Increasingly he became aware that

his phenomenal sense of smell

was a gift that had been

given to him, and him alone.

When Jean-Baptiste

did fnally learn to speak

he soon found that everyday

language proved inadequate

for all the olfactory experiences

accumulating within himself.


Warm wood.


Wet grass.


Warm stones.


Cold water.


Wet stones.

Big, wet frog stones.




By 13, Mme Gaillard no longer

had room for Jean-Baptiste

and therefore

decided to sell him.

Come on.

Ten francs.

From his frst breath of the odor

enveloping this man...

Seven, and not one sou more.

...Grenouille knew that

his life in Grimal's tannery

would be worth precisely as much

as the work he could accomplish.

Unfortunately for Madame Gaillard,

the bargain was short-lived.

Life expectancy in the tannery

was a mere f/ve years

but Jean-Baptiste proved to be

as tough as a resilient bacterium.

He adjusted to his new fate

and became a paragon

of docility and diligence.

Slaved 15, 16 hours a day,

summer and winter.

Gradually he became aware

of a world beyond the tannery,

where a Utopia of unexplored

smells lay in store for him.


Come with us. I'm taking you

to town for delivery.

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille

had triumphed.

He was alive

and at last he was

in his element.

He was not choosy.

He did not differentiate between

what are good smells from bad,

at least not yet

He was very greedy.

The goal was to possess everything

the world had to offer in odors.

His only condition being,

that they were new ones.

Thousands upon thousands of odors

formed an invisible gruel

which he dissected into its

most remote parts and pieces.


Come on!

Get your ass over here!

He needs two dozen skins

by next week. Can you do that?

- Yeah. Yeah.

- Yeah, come with me.

What is it called?

"Amor and Psyche", madame.

My latest creation.

May I try it?

If you'll allow me, mademoiselle.

Sheer heaven!

Monsieur Pelissier,

you are truly an artiste.

Please, take them.

I've got far too many.

What do you want?

Want to buy some?

Two for a sou.

Next time you run off like that,

I'll kill you!

That night, he could not sleep.

The intoxicating power of the

girl's scent made it clear to him

why he'd come to his own life

so tenaciously, so savagely.

The purpose of his miserable

existence had a higher destiny.

He would learn

how to preserve scent

so that never again would he

lose such sublime beauty.

There were about a dozen

perfumers in Paris in those days.

One of them, the once- celebrated

Rate this script:1.8 / 6 votes

Andrew Birkin

Andrew Timothy Birkin (born 9 December 1945) is an English screenwriter, director and occasional actor. He was born the only son of Lieutenant-Commander David Birkin and his wife, the actress Judy Campbell. One of his sisters is the actress and singer Jane Birkin. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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