Just saw “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Comments: An uber-hip teenage critic in the family thought it was too heavy on frivolity, but changed his mind after a second viewing. Me, I thought it was plenty dark, showed some nice cinematic touches and weaving of themes between the visual and the spoken, and was worth a trip to the cinema. Though I *did* wish there were more layering within sections.
Whyfor Potter? With perfume?
Because early on, in potions class, the students are introduced to the recipe for and effects of a love potion. Hermione, of course, provides the deets: “It’s effect is different on each individual who experiences it. On me, for example, I smell...newly mown grass...fresh parchment...[sigh] spearmint gum....” Have we perfume appreciators not read plenty, discussed plenty, ruminated plenty on those scents which have visceral effects upon us? The wizards’ love potion is all about that. Scents are composed according to the perfumer’s experience, according to a committee brief, a mentor’s directive, a customer survey. But they always come down to a single rendition...a particular something, a unique but the same in every bottle delivery...
...the closest we come to the individual experience delivered by a Hogwarts love potion is the (still contested) experience that different people will experience the VERY SAME potion differently, or differently depending on whose skin they smell it, or differently depending on time of year or context. Come to think of it, maybe there is a sort of magic going on there...yes, I know science will explain it eventually. Receptors and all. But, it’s still magical, isn’t it?
Further on in the Potter film, the pensieve reappears, and there is Dumbledore’s fabulous glass cabinet, full of vials containing various memories. Because my brain had already been primed by the love potion scene, I saw that cabinet and immediately thought of a perfumer’s organ. Yes, physically it resembled some of those cabinets like in the perfume museum in Barcelona, and that crossed my mind, too. But the perfumer, sitting down with so many single notes, ready to compose an accord, or blend a full piece...those memories waiting to be explored individually, or collected in an overall experience...and then Harry, submerging himself in the water, letting the memory/experience consume his conscious.
Mown grass, indeed.
Incidentally, there is a scene in the movie where a professor explains why an academic always travels with ampules, a trait which of course is both "intellectual" and opportunistic. On the way home, I entertained my family by having son-the-film-critic reach into my bag and pull out what would appear to be a typical hardshell eyeglasses case. What does his mother, a one-time college teacher have inside?
Ampules, of course. 1ml and 1.5ml glass vials, at the ready to collect specimens.