An Olfactory Cinema: Smelling Perfume

Open access


While technological improvements from the era of silent movies to that of sound cinema have altered and continued to affect audience’s cinematic experiences, the question is not so much how technology has increased possibility of a sensory response to cinema, rather, it is one that exposes how such technological changes only underscore the participation of our senses and the body in one’s experience of watching film, highlighting the inherently sensorial nature of the cinematic experience. This paper aims to address the above question through an olfactory cinema, by close analysis of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006) by Tom Tykwer. What is an olfactory cinema, and how can such an approach better our understanding of sensorial aspects found within a cinema that ostensibly favours audio-visual senses? What can we benefit from an olfactory cinema? Perhaps, it is through an olfactory cinema that one may begin to embrace the sensual quality of cinema that has been overshadowed by the naturalized ways of experiencing films solely with our eyes and ears, so much so that we desensitize ourselves to the role our senses play in cinematic experiences altogether

Barker, Jennifer. 2008. Out of Sync, Out of Sight: Synaesthesia and Film Spectacle. Paragraph vol. 31 no. 2: 236-251.

Beugnet, Martine. 2007. Cinema and Sensation. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Elias, Norbert. 1994. The Civilizing Process. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Jenner, Mark. 2000. Civilization and Deodorization? Smell in Early Modern English Culture. In Civil Histories: Essays Presented to Sir Keith Thomas, eds. Peter Burke, Brian Harrison and Paul Slack, 127-145. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Marks, Laura. 2000. The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment and the Senses. North Carolina: Duke University Press.

Marks, Laura. 2002. Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Marks, Laura. 2004. Thinking Multisensory Culture. Paragraph vol. 31 no. 2: 123-137. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Plantinga, Carl. 2009. Moving spectators: American Film and the Spectator’s Experience. London: California University Press.

Powell, Anna. 2005. Deleuze and Horror Film. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Powell, Anna. 2007. Deleuze, Altered states and Film. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Rindisbacher, Hans J. 1995. The Smell of Books: A Cultural-Historical Study of Olfactory Perception in Literature. USA: Michigan University Press.

Stam, Robert. 2000. Film Theory. An Introduction. Malden MA, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Trifonova, Temenuga. 2010. A Nonhuman Eye: Deleuze on Cinema. SubStance vol. 33 no. 2 (2004): 134-152.

Watson, Lyall. 2000. Jacobson’s Organ and the remarkable nature of smell. London: Penguin Press.

Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, Film and Media Studies

The Journal of "Sapientia" Hungarian University of Transylvania

Journal Information


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 101 101 12
PDF Downloads 30 30 6