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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

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Source: Catholic News Service

Deeply disturbing but hypnotic story set in 18th-century France about an orphan (Ben Wishaw) -- impoverished and abused but gifted with an extraordinary sense of smell -- who apprentices to a perfumer (Dustin Hoffman), after which -- incapable of normal love -- he becomes a serial killer in his quest to capture the scents of his young female victims, ultimately targeting the virginal daughter (Rachel Hurd-Wood) of a wealthy merchant (Alan Rickman) desperate to protect her. Director Tom Tykwer's artful adaptation of Patrick Suskind's 1985 best-seller shows sensitivity in telling a story which could be utterly repellent in other hands, and without justifying the terrible deeds, succeeds in illuminating the protagonist's strange motivation with Christian compassion. Reasonably restrained in its violence, the film will clearly not be to every taste and should be approached with caution. Aberrant violence including murder and bloodshed, partial nudity, an unflattering ecclesiastical character, and a climax involving mass eroticism with long-shot nudity. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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Anthony Zaccaria: At the same time that Martin Luther was attacking abuses in the Church, a reformation within the Church was already being attempted. Among the early movers of the Counter-Reformation was Anthony Zaccaria. His mother became a widow at 18 and devoted herself to the spiritual education of her son. He received a medical doctorate at 22 and, while working among the poor of his native Cremona in Italy, was attracted to the religious apostolate. He renounced his rights to any future inheritance, worked as a catechist and was ordained a priest at the age of 26. Called to Milan in a few years, he laid the foundations of three religious congregations, one for men and one for women, plus an association of married couples. Their aim was the reform of the decadent society of their day, beginning with the clergy, religious and lay people. 
<p>Greatly inspired by St. Paul (his congregation is named the Barnabites, after the companion of that saint), Anthony preached with great vigor in church and street, conducted popular missions and was not ashamed of doing public penance. </p><p>He encouraged such innovations as the collaboration of the laity in the apostolate, frequent Communion, the Forty Hours devotion and the ringing of church bells at 3:00 p.m. on Fridays. </p><p>His holiness moved many to reform their lives but, as with all saints, it also moved many to oppose him. Twice his community had to undergo official religious investigation, and twice it was exonerated. </p><p>While on a mission of peace, he became seriously ill and was brought home for a visit to his mother. He died at Cremona at the age of 36.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, help me make my life more about you and less about me. May others see you in me—your image and likeness. Teach me ways to increase my time with you, my service to others, and my love for my family, for strangers, and for the poor. You are the light in the darkness. With each new day, may we be light to one another.

Spiritual Resilience

 
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