Cargo (2017)

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guerlainshalimaredt_jadejagger_bornunicornWhat perfume would survive a zombie apocalypse? In case you were wondering, wonder no more: Guerlain Shalimar is the answer! At least that’s what happens in Cargo, a zombie survival film set in Australia, currently shown on Netflix. The Jade Jagger-designed bottle of eau de toilette [1] appears several times, and we soon learn why. The protagonist, Andy (Martin Freeman), first take it out of his backpack and sprays some fragrance in the air.

cargo_bornunicorn (7)He smells his own hand.

cargo_bornunicorn (6)And in one line explains why he’s carrying it in his survival kit. He tells his baby daughter Rosie that he “can smell Mommy.” Shalimar literally stands for someone who is no more.

cargo_bornunicorn (5)Later, when Andy and Rosie meet Lorraine (Caren Pistorius), the bottle pops up again.

cargo_bornunicorn (4)The perfume calms Rosie down: it’s her Linus’ security blanket.

cargo_bornunicorn (2)Finally, the bottle can be seen in the hands of Thoomi (Simone Landers), the girl whom Andy and Rosie end up travelling with. She sprays some perfume while alone: she wants to smell the fragrance which seems to have such an importance for father and daughter.

cargo_bornunicorn (1)We last see Shalimar again in the hands of Thoomi. This is a very beautiful and touching scene (no spoilers!): the sprays of perfume here are like a caress, a chance for closure, a sweet goodbye.

Now let’s see why Shalimar – and not another perfume – was given this function in the film. Yolanda Ramke, co-director of Cargo, when asked about it at a Q&A session on Reddit, explained:

It wasn’t scripted as being Shalimar but it was a member of our art department who wrangled out that arrangement, and the reason why it worked out was that the guy who ‘founded’ that perfume, his wife had passed away and he read our script and he realized that the story was about a man honouring his wife with this perfume – and so he allowed us to use it because of that component of the story.

Lots of interesting information here. The “founder” Ramke is referring to is Jean-Paul Guerlain, who worked as master perfumer until 2002; the script is very emotional, so I’m glad the last perfumer of the Guerlain dinasty appreciated the intensity of the family bonds depicted in it. Plus, it’s important to notice how Shalimar was created as a homage to another tragic love story [2]: it’s named after the Shalimar Gardens near Lahore, a symbol of the love between the emperor Shãh Jahãn and the favourite member of his harem, Mumtaz Mahal. When she died of childbirth, the emperor built the Taj Mahal in her memory.

[1] I think it’s the eau de toilette, because the eau de parfum is almost golden in colour, while this one looks definitely lighter in the bottle.

[2] You can read a thorough history of Shalimar on Monsieur Guerlain’s website.

Id source.

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