Producer: City Media TV 

Produced: 2014      Format: HD

Did Patrick Süskind have a true story in mind when composing his bestseller ‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer’? This becomes one of the central questions of the documentary that tells the story of Giovanni Maria Farina. Farina was indeed the most famous perfume designer of the 18th century, the creator of ‘Eau de Cologne’ – once a unique fragrance, it has become a generic term for a certain type of perfumes. Farina’s client list was virtually the Who’s Who of the 18th and 19th centuries: Louis XV and Frederick the Great, Voltaire and Goethe – all yearned for Farina’s perfume. The obsession eventually led to an international trickery and a lawsuit – the trademark law did not exist back then.

The film takes us through the most important stages in the life of the great perfume artist and follows his footsteps from Piedmont to Venice, Grasse, Paris, and finally to Cologne, where Farina’s descendants produce perfume to this day.

Time and again, the traces bring us to Venice, at Farina’s time the gate to the Orient and the commercial metropolis for scents, spices and essences. It is here that the young Farina studies the perfume art. He masters his techniques in Grasse and finally becomes a royal court supplier. In 1709, his brother – responsible for the commercial part of the business – opens a shop in Cologne. Farina devotes his renowned fragrance ‘Eau de Cologne’ to his new hometown.

Following the traces of the great perfume maker, the documentary discovers ever new parallels with Süskind’s Grenouille and further leads to another trace: Coco Chanel and her way to creating the most famous scent nowadays – No.5. 

Languages: English, German, French 

Broadcaster: ZDF, arte