Scent of Mystery lives again!
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The 70mm Newsletter
|Written by: Tammy
Burnstock, Writer & Producer
Wilson-Brown founder of the Institute of Art and Olfaction
years after its original scented release, "Scent of Mystery" (AKA
Spain") lives once again in glorious Smell-O-Vision!
In two special events: for the
Widescreen Weekend Festival, Bradford UK and in front of a full house at
the Danish Film Institute in Copenhagen, the movie was screened with a new
experimental participatory scent track.
Audience members were central to scent delivery dispersing one (of 14)
smells via personal spray bottles or, when cued by an off screen costumed
‘Mystery Woman,’ liberating a perfume clue via hand held souvenir fans.
Automatic scents were also released into the cinema including the ‘Scent of
Spain’, sea breeze and an animalistic smell to accompany a scene set amongst
the Running of the Bulls.
The film was restored and re-mastered by Cinerama maestro
With scents created by Saskia Wilson-Brown founder of the
Institute of Art and
Olfaction, Scentematographer Neal Harris of
Antonio Gardoni of bogue
– profumo who is responsible for the signature ‘Scent of Mystery’
In charge of wardrobe was the amazing John Foley, who dressed volunteers
Saul and Kelly in the UK and Trevor and Sabitha in Denmark. Smell-O-Vision
props for the pilot were made by my daughter Rebekah Delaney, Mother Nomi
and sister Dina.
For me the seeds of this revival were planted 30 years ago when I wrote my
final paper for The Australian Film, TV and Radio School (AFTRS 1986).
|More in 70mm reading:|
Jack Cardiff about "Scent of
Be part of Smell-O-Vision
history! A campaign to re-start Mike Todd Jr's. Smell-O-Vision for
future screenings of "Holiday In Spain"
A Brief History about Hans Laube
Mike Todd Jr.'s "Scent of
Mystery" in Smell-O-Vision
Movies with artificial smells
in cinemas: "Behind the Great Wall" and "Scent of Mystery"
Cinerama Inc. Scans "Holiday
In Spain" at Crest Hollywood
Working for Michael
Scent of Mystery in Copenhagen
Institute of Art and Olfaction
bogue – profumo
beginning of Jack Cardiff's
interview / audio-letter to Tammy Burnstock, December 1986
As part of the research I was fortunate to interview legendary
cinematographer and director, Jack
Cardiff who opened his interview with the
Hello Miss Burnstock. By some ironic fate you have chosen a subject, the
film I directed: 'Scent of Mystery', which is the one film I want to
erase from my memory. The reason for this is that, through no fault of
my own, the film was a complete disaster.
Read the full interview, or
listen to the full interview
I never had an opportunity to watch the film but ever since then my passion
for all things scented and my curiosity about this original stinker
persisted. Last year an old film school buddy, Brendan Young, alerted me to
the fact that the film had been restored and re-mastered (albeit in it’s
second life incarnation without scent:
"Holiday in Spain").
I ordered a
Blu-Ray and contacted the film’s distributer Brian Jamieson of
Redwind Productions to see if there was a chance he would allow a
pre-school writer from Australia to attempt to revive scented cinema.
Amazingly he said yes.
Over the following year I liaised with
Brian and David about how we were going to rise to this wonderful challenge.
This finally became possible when in April 2015 Saskia Wilson-Brown, founder
of the Institute of Art and Olfaction responded to my invitation to know
more within 15 minutes of sending my email:
Exciting and amazing stuff.”
Strohmaier, Per Tofte Nielsen, Tammy Burnstock and Randy Gitsch in
Copenhagen, October 2015. Randy holding "Scent number 3" card-board sign.
Image by Thomas Hauerslev
So Saskia, Dave and I met in LA to plot the new scent track and to talk
about how were going to achieve the best results with, at this point in time
NO budget. Saskia brought Neal Harris onboard. With over 30 years in the
fragrance world Neal joined a dedicated group of professionals volunteering
their time to bring the one and only true Smelly back to life to prove that
scented cinema has a future. These people included production consultants Derrin Brown and Varcha Sidwell and editor Lile Judickis here in Australia
along with the ‘Emperor of Scent’ himself, Luca Turin.
Happily Duncan McGregor Curator of the
Widescreen Weekend at the National
Media Museum in Bradford and Rasmus Brendstrup (Programmer for the Danish
Film Institute) embraced the opportunity to venture into the unknown with
Fund raising has never been my forte. It seemed to me that the magic of
scented cinema would sell itself to would-be-sponsors but this just didn’t
happen. Luckily family and friends both old and new got behind the project
via our ‘Be Part of Smell-O-Vision History’
crowd funding campaign and we
were able to move forward with most of the material expenses covered (see
full thank you list bellow).
the screenings we reduced the number of scents from the original 30 to 18.
Over 2 ½ hours the audience smelled: The faint smell of a yellow rose, The
delectable mouth watering scent of a peach, The nicotinous smoky character
of pipe tobacco, Rare and exotic Scent of Mystery perfume, The tangy breeze
of the ocean, Strong keen smell of oil paint, A strong perfume (cheap!), The
exotic scent of Spain, The heady grape essence of port wine, The musky scent
of running bulls, Garlic!, The strong juicy greenness of clover and grass,
The bracing exhilaration of steaming coffee, the pungent intoxication of
strong brandy, The clean clear whiff of peppermint, The penetrating
sweetness of talcum powder, The heavy oriental incense of an ancient mosque,
Dusty cement odor of rubble and The fresh moist nose tingle of orange grove.
All senses were engaged and the
audience responded enthusiastically as this taster of comments from post
screening questionnaire contests:
“Unique and with a lot of humour”, “fun and different”, “interesting beyond
my expectations”, “it made the scenes more immediate”, “it gave you an extra
dimension”, “Takes you into the movie”, “Overwhelming and a special
experience”, So much fun!”
Hauerslev with the hand held souvenir fan in Copenhagen, October 2015. Image
by Thomas Hauerslev
scented event was a little rough around the edges but I think we came
together at just the right time to achieve something different and
stimulating. A memorable experience demonstrating the potential of scented
For a glimpse behind the scenes watch this
One of my main motivations in breathing
smell back into "Scent of Mystery" was to bring director Jack Cardiff’s
original vision to life. In his interview Cardiff claimed that the reason
the film failed in it’s first outing in 1959 was because the Swiss
‘Osmologist’ Hans Laube was ‘a fraud’ and that his scents all smelled ‘like
There is very little information available about Hans Laube and what
happened to him after the less than triumphant original outing for "Scent of
Mystery". So I was very excited to be contacted by his daughter, Carmen Laube
via Facebook. Sadly the story of this man who invented Smell-O-Vision and
who “believed everything on this earth, even emotions, have a scent” is not
a happy one.
Hans Laube first introduced his system, then called Scentovision, at the
1939–40 New York World's Fair. Visitors invited to take a look at "the world
of tomorrow", discovered Nylon, a futuristic car-based city, television and
a system whereby scents are delivered via pipes to individual seats in
theaters, orchestrated by the projectionist using a control board. The New
York Times reported in 1943 that Scentovision "produced odors as quickly and
easily as the soundtrack of a film produces sound".
Laube, a Swiss national, returned to Europe in 1946, unable to interest any
film or television studios in his invention. Until
Mike Todd, Jr. in 1959.
This big budget venture should have been his moment in the sun but according
“The Scent of Mystery was his swan song. He lost all his money, my mom went
to work, and he died about 16 years later, penniless and broken.” - Carmen Laube, 2015
Link to full story: A Brief History about
of scents from the Institute of Art and Olfaction
Through this revival of this film, I have discovered that Jack Cardiff’s
take on scented film history is just one point of view. In LA I met Charles
Ziarko who attended the original screenings. He remembered the scents as
being true to the vision and the delivery system relatively effective. Avery
Gilbert, author of ‘What the Nose Knows: the Science of Scent in Every Day
Life’, dedicates a chapter of his book to the ‘Battle of the Smellies’
between "Behind The Great Wall", hurriedly released just before the
premiere of "Scent of Mystery".
In recent correspondence he writes:
“While Smell-O-Vision and AromaRama are typically mentioned today only to
ridicule them, I discovered in my research that Smell-O-Vision was a genuine
technological innovation while AromaRama was a cynical rip-off. The many
shortcomings of the latter succeeded in giving the whole field a bad name.”
This recent revival of "Scent of Mystery" provides further clues: We were
reminded that scent is a very personal sense and no two people smell the
same (the adjective and verb both being true). Therefore it is a great
challenge to create and deliver a scent track that resonates universally to
an audience. The disappointing first outing for the film in 1959 may have
had more to do with the film itself and an over ambitious goal to populate a
three hour movie with 30 scents than the scents themselves.
Cinema has had a long gestation and is still in its infancy. Like the early
days of sound, scent is at the moment a blunt instrument. However the power
of olfactory engagement is undeniable. Scents, closely linked to memory and
emotion, add value to the cinema experience and have a place in film history
and into the future.
As I write we are planning for a screening of "Scent of Mystery" in Hollywood
in 2016, taking on board the lessons learnt from our pilot screenings so
WATCH THIS SPACE.
A HUGE Thank You
page of Tammy's final paper for The Australian Film, TV and Radio School (AFTRS
1986) - the thesis which started everything.
This scented celebration was created by an
international team of passionate movie and smell professionals all of who
volunteered their time or cold hard cash to make this event happen. So a
HUGE thank you to the following Noses (in no particular order):
Brian Jamieson, Dave Strohmaier, Saskia Wilson-Brown, Neal Harris, Antonio
Gardoni, Luca Turin, John Foley, Derrin Brown, Varcha Sidwell, Brendan Young, Nomi
Burnstock, Dina Burnstock, Geoff Burnstock, Rebekah Delaney, James Delaney,
Kelly Moffit, Saul Sebag Montifiore, Carmen Laube, Duncan McGregor, Lisa
Brooke, Jay Arnold, Symon Culpan, Keiko Shimamura, Jack Wentworth-Weedon,
Bethany Holden, Dominic Vinton, Rasmus Brendstrup, Per Tofte Nielsen, Randy
Gitsch, Kathrine Meyer, Jørgensen Mads Toft Hansen, Gustav Hoder, Nina Neyra,
Trevor Smith, Sabitha Sofia, Brooke Beledon, Victoria Routhier, Catherine
Stone, Anna D Errico, Conor McTeague, Stella Egan, Judy Vaknin, John Boyd,
Liz Roxburgh, Charles Ziarko, Anna Haywood, Vivian, Alisa and Miri
Hirschfeld, Denise Viera, Grant Osborne, Syliva Hobbs, Gary Greenberg, Aviva
Burnstock, Sophie Emtage, Maija Rove, Beth Taylor, KJ, Sally Zwartz,
Catherine Strohmaier, Maureen Miller, Paige Livingston, Daniel and Judith
Keyser, Wendy Chandler and anonymous supporters.
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