In Paris, at the smoldering fish-shop, next to the Cemetery of Innocents, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born.
His mother wants to get rid of the unwanted child, but her idea is revealed, and she is accused of infanticide and executed, and the baby is transferred to the care of the monastery and assigned to him a wet nurse. The woman refuses to take care of the child, because, she said, he “does not smell like other children” and is obsessed with the devil. The priest, Terrier’s father, defends the rights of the baby, but being frightened that he “shamelessly sniffs at him,” Grenouille arranges away from his arrival – in the shelter of Madame Gayar.
Here, the child lives up to eight years, other children shun him, the boy is considered weak-minded, besides, he is ugly and injured. But behind him remarkable actions are noticed – thanks to hidden abilities he is not afraid to walk in the dark, he knows how to predict the rain. No one
knows that Grenouille is a unique person, a person with a keen sense of smell, which can catch even such smells that there is no name. When Grenouille, thanks to her nose, finds money hidden by the mistress of the shelter, she decides to get rid of him and sends her to the tanneries.
Grenouille works in difficult conditions, enduring beatings and illnesses, the only joy for him is the study of new smells. And the spirits and the garbage stink are equally interesting to him. Once on the street he feels an unusual fragrance, his source is a young girl who smells like “beauty itself”. Grenuy, wanting to master it, strangles the girl, enjoys her smell and disappears unnoticed. Conscience does not torment him, on the contrary, he is happy that he possessed the most precious aroma in the world. After this incident, Grenouille realizes that he has learned about the smells all, and his vocation is to be their creator, the great perfumer.
To learn this craft, he is hired as a pupil to the master Baldini, having made for him wonderful spirits, though without any rules. In Baldini, he learns the language
of formulas and how to “take away” from flowers their smell, using sublimation. All the formulas of aromas invented by Grenouille, Baldini appropriates himself. The hero is disappointed – not every scent can be enclosed in a glass bottle as a flower perfume. Grenuy is so unhappy that he even falls ill and comes to himself only when he learns from the master that there are other means to receive smells from any bodies.
Now the goal of the hero is Grass, whose perfumers own these secrets. But on the way there Grenouille gets into an uninhabited cave, where he enjoys solitude for several years. Accidentally he is visited by a terrible guess – he himself does not smell at all. He needs such spirits that people stop shunning him and take him for an ordinary person. From his shelter, Grenouille is under the patronage of the Marquis of Ta’ad Espinasse, an adherent of the “fluid theory”, following which, in his own opinion, Grenuya again made a man from a cave animal. But in reality it was due to the good soap and spirits that Grenouille created from the feline excrement and a piece of cheese.
Jean-Baptiste leaves the Marquis and travels to Grasse, where he enters apprenticeship with Madame Arnulfi, the widow of a perfumer. Here he learns the most subtle ways of mastering smells. Suddenly, next to someone’s garden, he again feels the fragrance, even more luxurious than the fragrance of a once-strangled girl. It is the smell of the young Laura Rishi who plays in the garden, and Grenouille decides that he has found the top of his future spirits – his main creation in life: the fragrance of absolute beauty, inspiring each person who breathed true love. For two years, he comprehends the science of collecting odors and is convinced that the smell of the skin and hair of a beautiful woman is best received by tissue, processed with odorless fat. But since Grenouille in the eyes of others is a dirty, ill-bred, half-crazed tramp, he can not get a smell in any other way, except for killing his bearer. In the city begins a wave of strange murders – their victims are young girls. They belong to different strata of society and found that they were not subjected to sexual violence – there is no connection between the murdered ones, the fact that this case of a murderer only indicates that all the victims were beautiful with the genuine beauty of the newly formed woman and that all they were found naked and shaved nalyso. Killer Grenouille, but he acts so cautiously, skillfully using his invisibility, that no one can suspect the murderer in him. And Grenouille continues his terrible and ingenious work of collecting notes for his future spirits. Only one person in Grasse turns out to be so shrewd that he begins to see the true motives of the murderer. This is Laura’s father, Consul of Rishi. He sees that all the victims represent a kind of collection of real beauty and fear creeps in his heart: Rishi realizes that in the city there is no one who would exceed in this delicate, luxurious beauty his daughter and sooner or later an unknown killer will want to kill her too. Rishi decides to prevent this. He secretly takes Laura out of the city and hides with her on a remote island. He alone did not take into account – the killer finds his victims on the scent and all the precautions with which he arranged them with his daughter fled from the city were powerless against the main thing: Laura should disappear, and her scent would disappear. And that it is his half-disappearing train that will give out the direction of escape and refuge, where Laura is hidden. Grenouille receives the last note of his spirits. But as soon as his work is finished – he is grasped.
Grenouille is exposed and sentenced to death. Rishi, distraught from losing her daughter, anticipates the execution of the wheel. He visits the prison in Grenouille and describes the upcoming torment, not hiding that it will be a balm for his broken heart. However, before going to the penalty, Grenouille retrieves miraculously concealed from the guards flacon with a complete flavor. One drop of this divine smell was enough to let the guards release Grenouille, and the hangman’s hands fell. The smell is flying over the crowd of spectators, gathered to admire the execution of the Grass monster – and subordinates them to himself. Aroma stimulates in people the desire to love and awakens carnal passion. People seek satisfaction right there, on the square, everything turns into a real passionate orgy. Grenouille stands among the crowd and enjoys the effect that produced. Antoine Rishi rises to the platform and crouches at Grenuyu, recognizing his son in it. Taking advantage of the general folly, Grenouille disappears. After the dope of the aroma of love passes, people find themselves naked in the arms of each other. Embarrassingly dressing, everyone silently decides to “forget” about what happened. Instead of Grenouille, the innocent is executed, just to put an end to this story.
Grenouil is free, he leaves the city. Now he knows the power of his power – thanks to the spirits, he can become a god if he wants. But he realizes that among those blindly worshiping him, there will not be a single person who can appreciate the real beauty of his fragrance. He returns to Paris and heads to the Innocent Cemetery, the place where he was born. Here thieves and vagabonds gathered at the fire. Grenouille sprays from head to toe with spirits, and people, blinded by the attraction to it, tear it apart and devour the remains of the great perfumer.