This morning I had a pleasant conversation with Dave Strohmaier, who’ll be directing the Smell-o-Vision presentation of Michael Todd, Jr. and Jack Cardiff‘s Scent of Mystery (a.k.a. Holiday in Spain) at the Cinerama Dome on Sunday, May 2nd, under the aegis of the TCM Classic Film Festival.
I explained that I can’t attend the public showing (I’m flying back to NYC on 4.29) and asked if there might be a technical rehearsal screening of some kind before May 2nd. Strohmaier, the guy who restored and re-mastered Scent, invited me to observe a smell test showing at the Dome on 4.20…great.
The 12.2 screening will involve and in fact require audience participation. Earlier this year In70mm.com‘s Tammy Burnstock wrote a piece about the process, which was tested successfuly at special-event screenings of Scent of Mystery last October. The first happened during the Widescreen Weekend Festival (10.15 thru 10.18) in Bradford, England, and the second was staged at Copehhagen’s Cinematek on 10.22.
The original Scent of Mystery dispensed 30 separate aromas. The restored, people-dependent version that will screen on 5.2 may dispense 18 scents, and if not that at least 14. The aromas have been freshly created by Saskia Wilson-Brown, founder of the Institute of Art and Olfaction.
Audience members will be asked to dispense some of the smells via personal spray bottles or, when cued, by releasing aromas via hand-held souvenir fans.
The scents will include (1) the faint smell of a yellow rose, (2) the scent of a peach, (3) the smoky stink of pipe tobacco, (4) the briney breeze of the ocean, (5) the pungent smell of oil paint, (6) a strong perfume, (7) the “exotic scent of Spain” (whatever the hell that means), (8) the aroma of port wine, (9) the musky, earthy smell of running bulls in Pamplona, (10) garlic, (11) clover and grass, (12) strong coffee, (13) brandy, (14) peppermint, (15) talcum powder, (16) incense, (17) dusty cement odor of rubble and (18) the slight scent of an orange grove.
Scent of Mystery was the second aroma-driven gimmick film, the first being Carlo Lizzani‘s Behind The Great Wall, which used a process called Aromarama and which opened three weeks before Scent. Aroma movies resurged in the early ’80s with “Odorama” versions of John Waters‘ Polyester, and again about five years ago with AromaScope, which was a selling feature for Robert Rodriguez‘s Spy Kids 4.
I’m not saying that Scent of Mystery stunk in pure cinematic terms, but no one has ever accused it of being anything more than a gimmick flick. But the 12.2 screening sounds like fun.