Jan 07

Red Hair Dye: The Story Of A Murderer

Do You See + FT16 comments • 123,487 views

perfume-1.jpgThe central plot-device of Patrick Suskind’s novel, and therefore Tom Twyker’s film Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer is the development of a perfume which is so intoxicating it will enslave mankind. There are a number of problems with this, namely that said perfume appears to be made out of the distilled essence of thirteen virginal girls, at least half of which appear to come from the lower classes: which one would imagine in eighteenth century France would stink up a storm. Not so much enslaving mankind as whiffing a bit of fish-guts and minestrone. Nevertheless if we accept the premise of the film there is still another more pressing problem in the visual representation of this film.

perfume-2.jpgLook at these young women. To the left we have Karoline Herfurth, the source of our murderous perfumers initial obsession. A fruit-seller in Paris, she seems to have a remarkable hair colour for someone of her era. Indeed lets be fair, if Clairol’s Seria is not involved then there is some serious loss in hair dye technology between the 1760’s and now. Of course this hair colour could be natural. It could be, but clearly isn’t, as no-one has natural hair THAT red*. Except Rachel Hurd-Wood (right) , who appears to have exactly the same, somewhat unnatural hair tone. Its almost as if they bought too much Feria Blood Red and had to use it up. They also dip another murder victim (the prostitute, what did you expect) in the brew too. All of which slightly undermines the lack of technology apparently in the perfume making process. though not quite as much as having Dustin Hoffman hamming it up in the perfume trade.

Casting is one of the films oddities. What the casting directors saw in Pingu from Nathan Barley as the lead character it is unclear? He is somewhat odd looking, having the air and gravitas of a slightly more contained Lee Evans. Still it is a role which requires little in the way of speech, that being handled by John hurt doing the narration. And as Lars Von-Trier, and anyone who has seen Watership Down will testify, a John Hurt narration can save any movie. And any film with a mass orgy which include bishops and fishwives can never be a wholly bad thing. The crowd below are just about to rip their clothes off and get at it. Tastefully of course. Driven wild by the smell of teenage girls body odour. Hmm.


*Indeed my friend from the politically ginger camp are quite adamant that Hollywood always gets red hair wrong, and happily trump up Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane Watson and a blonde who has been dumped in the dye.


  1. 1
    Emma on 15 Jan 2007 #

    My dad’s irrational prejudice against gingers is based in part on the fact that apparently ‘they smell a bit funny’. I would like to make it clear that I do not share this prejudice.

  2. 2
    Misty on 27 Feb 2007 #

    Maybe the colour is not natural, but I completely love it!! I’m a brunette who dyes her hair in red and that’s the colour I want in my hair!! Rachel-Hurd Wood is blonde and I think Karoline Herfurth is blonde too. So their hair caught the colour really well!! I wonder which dye they used… I would do anything to know it!! T_T

  3. 3
    Cassady on 11 Mar 2007 #

    I can’t help but wonder why someone so obviously after realism went to an art film. This reviewer should have stayed home and watched Law & Order. What a boring movie it would have been if they had made it about the technicalities of the perfuming industry. Are we going to get upset that the incidental score probably wouldn’t have actually been playing as well? It’s a movie. It’s fiction. Learn to suspend your disbelief.

    And I think the point about the girls smell just demonstrates that you kinda missed the point. The idea is that their smell is intoxicating. Maybe you personally don’t find anything intoxicating about young girls but I’m afraid most people do. And teenage girls on the edge of puberty don’t stink of b/o. The idea is that humans are like flowers, they bud, they bloom and they rot and it is at the blooming point that they generally look and smell the nicest. The whole point of the character is that he is the only one who realises this and he is the only one with the power to discover the perfect human scent. And humans, being humans, are inexplicably drawn to it, almost like magic.

  4. 4
    Cassady on 12 Mar 2007 #

    As for the hair colour thing, the whole movie was shot and graded in brighter-than-life colour (perhaps to make up for the fact that we haven’t yet invented Smell-A-Vision?), so I don’t think it really matters that the hair colour of the girls wasn’t 100% realistic. In fact – considering the film has a narration throughout – perhaps we might consider that we were seeing the girls through Grenouille’s eyes.

    And I’m not sure why the reviewer had a problem with Ben Whishaw, I thought he was perfectly cast. Grenouille is supposed to be odd-looking and socially inept and he played it perfectly.

  5. 5
    Pete on 12 Mar 2007 #

    Clearly you haven’t ever had a teenaged sister if you think teenage girls are naturally fragrant creatures. They spend a lot of money to make themselves smell nice!

    Maybe you personally don’t find anything intoxicating about young girls but I’m afraid most people do. Errrr….

    If you read the article again closely, you’ll find nowhere where I said I didn’t like the film. I was just interested in the juxtaposition between the attempts as gritty realism (Paris as dirty and filthy) and these hyper-stylised bits.

  6. 6
    V on 13 Mar 2007 #

    Hair dye has been around a long while though, and a lot of the ways it has been improved since the Romans used it have to do with making it long lasting rather than changing the colour. The fruit seller probably wouldn’t have been able to afford loads of cosmetic stuff like hair dye anyway, but the prostitute might have seen it as an investment if it made her look better.

  7. 7
    Erin (redhead speakin up in here) on 25 Apr 2008 #

    I dont know about you guys but i loved this movie, i fell in love with when i saw it. Everything about it was soo deep and alluring. i doubt the colour of their hair matters, one of my old friends had almost the same colour and it was natural. i love that colour of red, its so amazing. My hair is a strawberry blondish kind of hue, with everyother colour mixed in like brown, blonde, extremely light blonde, orange, brownish purple. its just all over the place… and natural.. yes…

  8. 8
    shelle on 30 Jun 2008 #
  9. 9
    Dr. Carlyle Ferris on 27 Mar 2009 #

    Karoline Herfurth is a natural redhead and Rachel Hurd Wood is blonde. As an earlier commentator said, red hair dye, in the form of henna, has been used for ever. Boudica being one example of such enhancement. However, the colour in the movie is not necessarily unnatural as the MC1R variant gene allows a wide spectrum of colour from strawberry through to Titian shades. My advice is to enjoy, not criticise; the redhead is the most appreciated colour in art, even Venus was depicted as a redhead by Botticelli. More recently Fabian Perez perpetuates the mystic of the redhead.

  10. 10
    Sarah on 30 Aug 2009 #

    I have about 3 friends with that hair colour exactly. And it is rare, yes, but lovely. I don’t know how I know so many, come to think of it…

  11. 11
    Pete on 30 Aug 2009 #

    Maybe you work in a salon that dyes hair and you met them as customers.

  12. 12
    chase on 29 Apr 2010 #

    I love the writing. But i disagree. True enough I imagine peasant girls in 18th century france would stink, and perhaps the actresses hair colours are not exactly natural. However, if we are to pinpoint and criticize every technical aspect of a movie, it would be endless. The point is to understand how these aspects contribute to how you feel about the film. Perhaps redder hair means a more lasting impression.

  13. 13
    RealDealWomen on 11 Jul 2010 #

    Clearly, this person does not appreciate the ART of a fantastic film. We’re pretty sure that the reason her hair was dyed that shade of red was to further enhance the importance of her role in his plan.It symbolizes the extreme beauty he sees in her and if you forgot to notice, her hair was used in making the perfume as well. So isn’t it pretty obvious? Anyway, @Cassady has hit it on the nail with the comment towards the author of this article. (Who seems to be a dunce and should learn how to lighten up.) It is a movie, not a documentary on how perfume is made.

  14. 14
    Bollybabe on 6 Aug 2010 #

    And of course the visuals had to be enhanced, because the film is primarily about smell and they had to appeal to other senses that could be reached through film.

  15. 15
    kyry on 2 Apr 2012 #

    I love the movie, watch it every chance i get. that deep, bright red hair color can be natural. Karoline Herfurth (the peasant fruit seller.) is a natural redhead, notice the myriad of freckles everywhere! such beauty! but i loved the film for it’s artistic intensity. and why anyone thinks French women would stink??? first they were the most perfumed (if they were rich, if peasant they still smelled natural. ) Rachel Hurd-wood is amazing! and Grenouille is the perfect totally awkward young man fascinated by young women. i mean was like 21 or something like that in the movie, had never even met a young woman (he did live and work in a tanning factory. how many beautiful parisian women would ever enter such a place?) it’s not realisim we go to see in a movie, it’s the fantasy, the idea we can actually forget our lives during the movie that is alluring. and young women can smell very sweet and sensual, specially the young, barely out of puberty young girls. (and i am a woman so stop thinking bad!) there is a reason why the saying goes “girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice.” woman can be sweet, spicy, tender, loving, fiery and even murder all in one person. i am a natural copper haired lady who loves that particular shade of red, i think it’s called Titian and YES IT IS NATURAL! Rare but definetely natural. i’ve always loved my red hair. so whoever thinks it is not beautiful or sensual or natural think about this……Blondes have more fun, but Red Heads always get the best guy and have the most fun! why? because normally blondes are treated as if they were dumb while red heads are always respected and sought for their fiery and tender disposition. remember red heads are rare, only 1% of the entire world population has red hair. (shades going from pale strawberry blonde to the darkest most alluring of titian red.) i actually enjoyed the film, to me it was the best i’ve seen in years out of Hollywood!

  16. 16
    Lucifer Morningstar on 7 Apr 2012 #

    Im Lucifer Morningstar and i thank u all for not being ignorant about this post ? why is this pic named pre orgy are than anyorgy pics? carr_626 on ps3

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