7 marzo 2016

Scent of Mystery and Maai by Bogue Profumo

Experiments aiming at combining cinema with odors were being made in the past decades; today I will tell you one of these, which took place in 1960, at the launch of the film "Scent of Mystery", the only film shot in "Odorama". It was a fun and light thriller set in Spain, telling the adventures of an American tourist to save a young heiress from a conspiracy. But the hero can only identify her by her scent. 
Thirty odors (including smell of coffee, salt, talc, toast and others) were made for the film, which were sprayed in the room through a device called "Smell Brain". The experiment, however, did not work too well, the machine wasn't working in synch with the film and would release odors late, with a whistle that distracted the public from the vision. Some smells were regarded too strong and nauseating. When the problem was solved it was too late: word of mouth had decreed the failure of Odorama. Other experiments with film and smells also took place in the following decades but no one had been particularly valuable.
This year, however, "Scent of Mystery" was restored on the occasion of an international exhibition on Cinemascope, and producer, Tammy Burnstock, in order to "draw attention to the potential of odors" searched for fifteen odors to scent the movie and then spread in the room with new methods. I was pleased to know that MAAI by Bogue was chosen as the perfume worn by the main female character, Liz Taylor.
Each type of odors had a different means of diffusion: for example to reproduce the scents of the landscapes, environments and open spaces, small perfume-spreading fans were positioned at the four corners of the room, which were activated for the time necessary to saturate the room.
As for the smell of scented items appearing in the film (talcum powder, coffee, grass, gasoline, wine, garlic ....), each viewer found in his seat a box containing numbered vials to spray into the air in front of him/her whenever the corresponding number appared on screen.
To spread the scent of the main male character (a tobacco/spices accord) and the mysterious female character (Bogue's Maai) every spectator had to shake one of the two fans received at the entry.
Antonio and Valentina were obviously present at the two screenings, they told me "The audience was very intrigued by the situation and the attention was maximum. The experience was very engaging, the smells were persistent and stayed on you, in the nose and on your clothes during the whole screening. After getting out for a breath of fresh air, returning to the room was like stepping back into the atmosphere of the film: the individual odorous elements gained strength by being together and telling all together the story of the film, complementing one another. Their sum (talcum powder, garlic, coffee, tobacco, sand, Maai etc.) "composed" the fragrance of “Scent of Mystery".

I hope this kind of testing can continue, not only because they are fun but also because so we will find answers to some questions of those who were there-but also those who have only heard about it. For example: you need to physically perceive an odor to "hear" it, or our brain hears recreates it regardless of its immediate physical presence? And more: does an objective and universal perception of smells exist? Namely: the smell that we chose to illustrate a concept or a landscape, does really illustrate our idea to the others as we had in mind, or others perceive something different than what we meant?

Nessun commento: