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Plaça Sant Felip Neri
Historic information
This square was built on the site of a cemetery, like many of the squares in the old part of Barcelona. In this case it was the ancient cemetery of Montjuïc del Bisbe. The square was named after an Italian Jesuit preacher who was made a saint. The atmosphere of the square, with its acacias and fountain, has a great appeal. Its current layout is the result of building work carried out in the 1950s, when the buildings housing the Guilds of Boilermakers and Shoemakers were constructed. The two reconstructed buildings are good examples of the persistence of Gothic elements in Renaissance structures in Catalonia. The Shoemakers’ Guild building (which can be recognised by the guild’s coat of arms bearing the lion of Saint Mark) is home to the city’s footwear museum, the Museu del Calçat. The ensemble is completed by the baroque church of San Felip Neri, built in the 18th century as a tribute to the Saint of the same name. The church has a single nave and interconnecting side chapels and is based on the famous church of Gesú in Rome. The church façade bears the scars of a bombing raid that took place on 30th January 1938, killing over 20 children who were running to take refuge from the bombs.
In order to know the zone better
As you leave the square along the Carrer de San Felip Neri, you come to the Baixada de Santa Eulalia, where you can read the poem “Martiri” by Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer written on bricks set into the wall. Legend has it that the saint (the co-patron of the city) was bound up and placed in a barrel with knives stuck into it and rolled down this street. The Baixada comes out at the Carrer Banys Nous, which takes its name from a bath house that stood on the site in the Middle Ages. The cluster of streets around the Carrer del Call and Banys Nous used to be one of the most important Jewish Quarters in medieval Europe. At numbers 5 and 7 of the Carrer del Call, you can see the remains of a section of the Roman wall, with medieval houses built on top. The Carrer de Sant Domènec del Call was known at the time as the Carrer de la Sinagoga Mayor. At numbers 3 and 5 of this street there are many remains dating from the 13th to 15th centuries. This street leads back to the Plaça de San Felip Neri.
Scene description
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Plaça Sant Felip Neri: Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) reencounters the plum girl (Karoline Herfurth) in a square with a fountain in the centre. The darkness of the square enables Grenouille to stand just a short distance from the girl. When she turns round and sees him again she takes fright and screams. Grenouille puts his hand over her mouth so that she won’t be heard by a couple passing close by, but he uses so much force that he accidentally strangles her. Anxious to absorb her odour, he strips her naked in order to capture and inhale her scent. As her body grows cold, her bodily scent evaporates, to Grenouille’s despair.
Did you know that...
The square with its fountains appears in the film exactly as it is today although, logically, some contemporary elements had to be concealed. In order to give the overall impression of grime and filth, the walls were covered with dirt and also sprayed with water, creating the damp patches typical of the period. The sequence was filmed at night to enhance the lighting effects between the two characters. This was a difficult sequence to shoot as it kept raining and the production team had to put up awnings in order to continue filming. A curious fact was the creation of the colour of Karoline’s body during the post-production stage. Her skin has a natural colour when Grenouille tries to absorb her scent after she has been killed and her body stripped naked, but as time elapses her skin colour fades until she has almost turned blue.
The Barcelona of Perfume  /  Plaça Sant Felip Neri
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