I am a firm believer in the adage that the book is better than the movie; most of the time. One exception is the movie “Apocalypse Now” based on the 19th Century fin de siècle novella “Heart of Darkness” by author Joseph Conrad. The original story was based on British Colonialism in the Congo. Director Francis Ford Coppola modernized the story bringing it forward to the Vietnam War in 1969. The plots are essentially the same as a good and upright man makes a journey into the jungle looking for a man who might have become something dark. In both stories our narrator completes his journey but he is changed by confronting the darkness of the soul. The reason I prefer the movie is the milieu of the Vietnam War and the slippery ethical reasons for being there are more easily understood by me than what were the similar concepts of 19th Century British conquest of foreign lands. What also draws me to “Apocalypse Now” is the clearer sense of the absurd captured within the brutality of a war. Of the few people, I know in my life who served in Vietnam they all say “Apocalypse Now” is the best depiction of their time in country.
Independent perfumer Charna Ethier seemingly is inspired by the story for her latest release Providence Perfume Co. Heart of Darkness. In her interpretation, she wanted to create “A classic fougere for men with a dark twist”. In essence she wants to take a fougere on a journey into the jungle to return with a shadow on it. Ms. Ethier has a particularly deft touch with these green leafy accords which she has shown numerous times in the past with fragrances like Moss Gown. Heart of Darkness is another as she adds a jungle on top of a fougere.
This story opens with lavender ready to travel. It adds on nutmeg and tonka to add an unusual sweet quality. It takes the lavender towards its more floral nature as opposed to the herbal facets. Here it really is the steadfast lavender about to step into the jungle. Ms. Ethier uses a very green, slightly camphoraceous, cedar and vetiver to begin the shading towards the dark. A mixture of oakmoss and coffee is where Ms. Ethier adds the darkness. She describes the coffee note as “espresso” I would offer an alternative description as whole roasted coffee bean. Something in here adds a bit of humidity reminiscent of the tropics. Labdanum is the final ingredient which returns our fougere back to its more traditional milieu but the journey has changed it.
Heart of Darkness has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
Heart of Darkness is another of these green triumphs from Ms. Ethier. On the days I was wearing it I wanted to paraphrase a character from “Apocalypse Now” as I applied it each day. “I love the smell of fougere in the morning.” Especially when it is done in such an original way as it is in Heart of Darkness.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Providence Perfume Co.