Friday, May 6, 2016

Smell-O-Vision Doesn't Stink Thanks To The TCM Film Festival and Upcoming AIX Scent Fair

Would the audience enjoy a known failed way of viewing a movie from the 1960's? Like Frankenstein's monster featured in Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, also playing at the TCM film festival, could the TCM crew and some scent scientists pull off a the way film was supposed to be screened from 50 plus years ago at the iconic LA Cineramadome on an early Sunday morning on the first day of May? Not only did the film have to look good and sound good, now it had to smell good?

Holiday in Spain, once called Scent of Mystery is well known in the catalog of movies trivia for cinephiles for being a movie you could smell. This was done by the early invention of Smell-O-Vision. It worked by a contraption called a "scent brain." A series of perfume containers were linked in a belt and punctured, releasing the smells blown by fans via pipes underneath seats. The containers were on a motorized track, sort of working like a clock, this would let the "scent brain" release smells at the right time. It cost way to much for an average theater to install and the Cineramadome didn't take that path either.

Beverly Bentley and Denholm Elliot
For the special screening Scentevents and The Institute For Art and Olfaction were called in to make a modern day way of allowing Denholm Elliot play the star and crime novelist, Oliver Larker in the picture. He was joined by his sidekick and taxi driver, Smiley, played by Peter Lorre who you may remember as the scary guy from Looney Tunes always trying to kill Bugs Bunny. Though they were billed as the main stars among the beautiful Beverly Bentley who plays a lady in distress, they weren't what made the event.

The audience gasped, "Ugh, it's Garlic!," someone spouted. "Wait, what's that smell?," someone asked their friend, "Oh, it's coffee, smells delicious." A ladies perfume, which ladies perfume though? Now you can smell fireworks and sadly, cement. "I'd rather smell that "Piña colada smell,"someone said. All these scents came into your nostrils as numbers went on screen. Without a "scent brain", the audience had to depend on each other. Given a cup with a number on it you became part of the picture. A little spray bottle containing the numbered scent was your task to spray over your head so everyone around you could waft in the smell with their own complimentary commemorative fan. When a number flashed on screen and it was yours, you let the audience have it. Making everyone there part of the experience.

Joining the audience's parade of smells were silent, but high powered fans that produced smells like a nice sea breeze and probably not the greatest scent of "Running of the Bulls."

Together Smell-O-Vision came back for one more showing and it work. With and added bonus as TCM thought it might be nice to add some live actors that walked right out of the picture dressed as the characters on the big screen for added enjoyment.
Peter Lorre (L) Denholm Elliot (R)

Holiday in Spain, which on its own, past the use of Smell-O-Vision, has its own long history of having just being brought back, converted from long dead formats. Not that loved by audiences of yesteryear it still held qualities of a mystery of a foreign country, much like a James Bond flick. The story set around a British novelist, Denholm Elliot, on vacation embroiled in an attempted murder mystery where the audience and him have to figure it out and scents are a vital clue. If you do follow your noise you might be able to figure out the mystery before the picture is over. That's unlikely as there doesn't seem to be any more plans for another showing in glorious and audience involved Smell-O-Vision.

However, if you did want to enjoy some smell research one of the contributors to the screening is helping out with this weekend's AIX Scent Fair at the Hammer. The Institute for Art and Olfaction has its own workshop on Experiment Perfumery. That's only one of the events about scents with a full day of a Scent Fair with an international selection of fragrance makers showcasing their works. That's with workshops and an award show giving out Golden Pears as awards.

AIX Scent Fair
May 6–8, 2016
Hammer Museum
some events require RSVPing