We take so many things for granted: friends, family, our health, even the air we breathe. But what if the very senses we possess were denied us? Not all at once, but one at a time, beginning with the sense of smell. Could we adjust? Would we want to? That is the premise of a unique film I just watched called Perfect Sense. This British offering released in 2012, stars Ewan McGregor and Eva Green, and explores the concept in a rather dramatic fashion that certainly offers pause for reflection.
Ms. Green’s character, Susan, is an epidemiologist, while Michael (played by McGregor) is the head chef at a nearby restaurant. As the action unfolds, an epidemic appears to be spreading across the UK, with people losing their sense of smell. Because odors and memory are so closely related to one another, there is a great deal of emotional trauma that accompanies this initial sensory loss. We soon learn that the epidemic is international in scope. Through pure happenstance, Susan and Michael become involved, and before long have joined together in investigating this mysterious occurrence.
Okay, enough about the film. That’s not what I really wish to discuss here (to learn more, you’ll just have to see Perfect Sense yourself―I streamed it via Amazon Prime). What I would like to explore is the potential scenario the film presents.
How much do we take our senses for granted? And what exactly are they? In case you’ve forgotten, the five senses are: smell, hearing, sight, touch, and taste. Most of us know someone who is either deaf―or, at least hard of hearing―or blind. But have you ever imagined yourself deprived―even partially―of one of those other senses? I, myself, have faced the possibilities on more than one occasion. Twice, I have had a detached retina in my left eye (remarkably, both occurred on the same calendar date―exactly seven years apart). Fortunately, my ophthalmologist/surgeon was able to repair the damage without an appreciable loss of sight. However, I do have a residual degree of double vision. As if that weren’t enough, five years ago, I mysteriously acquired peripheral neuropathy in my feet, depriving me partially of feeling in both extremities. Luckily, in each instance, my sensory loss has only been partial.
Imagine, if you will, the complete loss of one or more of your senses. Perhaps you love to cook―and, of course, eat. Think what a catastrophe it would be if you lost your sense of smell, or worse yet, your sense of taste. Do you like music? Beethoven wrote most of his finest music after losing his hearing, but he was the exception. Maybe you’re a photographer? It would be pretty difficult to take pictures if you couldn’t see. I like to tie trout flies (that would be impossible without the sense of touch). How different our worlds would be without any one of our senses.
And that brings us back to the film. Perfect Sense concludes with Michael and Susan finding out that . . . What? You didn’t really think I was going to divulge the ending, did you?
So what have been your own experiences regarding your senses? Have you ever lost one, even temporarily? What was that like? Which sense would you miss the most? Which sensory deprivation would affect you the least? I think this is something we all may face at some point in our lives, to some degree or other, especially as we age. Wouldn’t it be nice to know how others have dealt with the challenge? Please take the time to comment below, and share your experiences and thoughts.
Movie Trailer for Perfect Sense (Don’t give the ending away, please)
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