Scent of a woman – a modern Grail legend

– spoiler alert –

Scent of a woman is a movie about initiation and healing on a deep and profound level. An old warrior (ex-marine) is hurt (cynical) and blind (literally and figuratively for the beautiful things in life). He wants to die and goes to NY for a final blast. But, since he is blind he is accompanied by his young and inexperienced nephew. The old warrior starts to teach him some tricks. Such as manically driving in a Ferrari through NY. The boy is shocked at first, but learns fast. Next they go out to a dancing venue. In the magnifiscent (typo and it stays) scene Al Pacino (blind old man) dances the tango with a beautiful woman. The young boy watches closely and intrigued. In the end the old warrior dresses up in formal attire to commit suicide. The young boy catches him just before it is too late. And then the balance of the movie shifts and the boy initiates the old man by convincing him to start living again. Through the innocence and love of his apprentice the old warrior’s heart melts and he is magically healed. A bit like how Amfortas is healed by Parsival. I cannot recall if in this movie the grail question is asked: ‘what ails thee my friend’, but it seems to be a similar mechanism. The boy cares about the old man and through this love, the old man is healed. And thus, in the end both men have learned a lot and are healed in their hearts. Now then, why is this movie called ‘Scent of a woman’? On the surface this movie is much about lust: the old man wants to go out with a bang and do all the exiting things once more before kicking the bucket. The sex drive of a man is the most primal force for life. But underneath there is more. Something that the old warrior seems to have forgotten. Or something he is not able to feel anymore because he is hurt. But his (naive?) virgin nephew still knows what that is. It is the true love of the woman. It is Courtly Love. The Holy Grail. That which nobody can see (the warrior is blind) but what you perhaps can smell. This hint of a deeper layer in the movie draws us deeper in on the quest. And because of this Scent of a Woman is a Great movie indeed. The movie ends with a trial at the university where the young boy needs to defend himself for not snitching on another person. In the trial he refuses to speak up. But the old man does speak up. In a compelling speech the old man speaks about the lost knightly virtues of the University and how these virtues are almost also removed from the young boy. ‘There is nothing worse than the sight of an amputated spirit’. I need to see this movie again soon.

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