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The peaceful world of a monastery, in a small town Jasmine, is destroyed by the arrival of monument restorers, Natasha, along with her daughter Eugenia. The legend associated with the monastery bode revelation in him a saint in the near future. Despite initial reluctance, Natasha starts the maintenance of the image stored there. The secrets of the monastery are unraveled: the unhappy lovers bodies placed in the catacombs, the secret elixir of love, created with the smell of the monks. Written by
Jasminum is a beautifully crafted film and a pleasure to watch. The relaxing pace of the movie is reminiscent of the pace of life within the monastery in which it takes place. A sense of mystery and a genuine fondness for the characters, particularly Brother Salinas and the young Genie, make this movie interesting to watch. With the exception of a few scenes, the majority of the movie takes place in a small monastery, but the mystery surrounding the monastery as well as the actions of its inhabitants keep the viewer compelled throughout.
Besides the prior Kleophas and the cook Salinas, there are three other monks in the monastery- Birdcherry, Plum and Sweetcherry- who are sequestered and silent. These three produce extremely desirable body odors, which Fr. Kleophas and the surrounding community regard as a miracle. The initial scene of the movie depicts the reception of the monks' dead bodies into the monastery -- five hundred years ago. This, along with Fr. Kleophas' belief in the coming fulfillment of a prophecy made by the apostle Barnabas, and the repeated appearance of a ghost around the monastery grounds, adds to the sense of mystery that keeps the audience captivated. Kleophas believes that the three odiferous monks are on their way to sainthood, a status that requires the performance of a miracle, but are their miracles for real? Are the brothers somehow reincarnations of their 16th century namesakes? What is the significance of the prophecy, and what secrets does the monastery hold? The issue of science versus faith is an important theme in the movie. The chemist and art restorator Natasha is working to restore a painting that Fr. Kleophas believed would be restored by a miracle, and is able to accomplish what no miracle had. In this sense, science is victorious, but Fr. Kleophas wonders what good a chemically restored painting is. Only a painting restored by a miracle would truly enhance the prayers of the faithful. Natasha seeks also to reproduce the scents of the brothers chemically. Her first attempt recreates Birdcherry's scent, but something is missing and the perfume is a failure. Eventually, she finds the missing ingredient Jasmine, which when mixed with Birdcherry's scent produces an odor Natasha calls "oblivion." The hairdresser Patricia then uses this scent to seduce the object of her affection. However, the seduced man cannot figure out why he is in love; he only recognizes an obsession that seems to be driving him mad, which leads to another theme of the movie: the search for happiness. Patricia believes that possession of Birdcherry's scent will lead to her happiness, because it will cause the actor to fall in love with her, but in reality he is only in love with the scent itself, which will eventually fade or run out. This raises the question of whether one really knows what one wants. Does the actor really want Patricia, or does he want her smell? Does Patricia really want the actor, of whom she knows very little, or does she want merely to be desired? Meanwhile the relationship between Sanitas and Genie exemplifies a healthier type of love, a caring reciprocating relationship where each member cares for the well being of the other.
The theme of science versus faith is a very timely one, particularly in Poland. Perhaps no other country besides Ireland stands out so much as the Church's last European stronghold of the faithful. Science is a wonderful and even miraculous thing, but faith is mysterious. As rational human beings, we are inclined to accept that which can be explained to us, but faith is required because we can never completely understand the deepest, most personal mysteries of the human experience. Jasminum was very interesting and thought provoking, and anyone interested in the themes of faith and happiness will find it very enjoyable.
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