What The Wild Things Smell Like

Published September 10, 2009 by Molly

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Books and movies have one small thing in common: they combine aural and visual stimuli to the purpose of telling a story. But what about the other senses? One’s mind gets to wandering.

Where Wild Things are concerned, the answer may lie at I Hate Perfume, Christopher Brosius’s laboratory of unconventional scents. Rather than pander to classical tastes with rose and lilac-scented vials, Brosius creates formulas designed to invoke the most intricate of memories. Three of the scents developed at the I Hate Perfume workshop happen to bear a particular relationship to Where the Wild Things Are, due to their relevant subject matter. To wit:

If Max’s voyage had an olfactory accompaniment, it would no doubt be Brosius’s Eternal Return, a perfume designed to simulate the scent of sailing toward the shore. The mixture blends the smells of ocean air, wooden ships, and “a faint hint of cypress trees growing on a cliff above the water.” Sounds about right.

Then there’s Wild Hunt (which NAILS the wild rumpus in odorific terms)––the bottled and compressed scent of an ancient forest complete with “torn leaves, crushed twigs, flowing sap, fallen branches, old leaves, green moss, fir, pine, and tiny mushrooms”. Finally, there’s Memory of Kindness–based on the perfumer’s reveries of childhood–which has to be the smell of Max returning home.

Gosh. Is there even a vocabulary for the way that smells influence our perception of things? Will we ever have the equivalent of an olfactory soundtrack to films? to books? Life comes with its own built-in version, after all. And childhood is definitely the most powerful origin of smells. For these reasons, the whole concept of I Hate Perfume is a slightly mind-boggling enterprise.

Maybe Smell-O-Vision is due for a high-concept comeback.

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3 comments so far

  1. Jonathan says:

    For such an atmospheric movie like “Where the Wild Things Are” I think smell-O-vision would work fantastically.

  2. CJDL says:

    Can you imagine how perfect this would be? Our whole memory of childhood is intrinsically tied into our sense of smell. Smell always brings on a flood of memories and feelings and it goes without saying that the right scent, placed at the right time, could call up those memories and their powerful responses.
    Hold the popcorn though!
    Proust was right on when he wrote :”the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls bearing resiliently, on tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence, the immense edifice of memory”.

  3. [...] Em vez de fazer perfumes com cheiro de rosa, a I Hate Perfumes faz frangâncias que invoquem memóri… leave a comment « Toca madeira. [...]