Something's in the Air

All About Attacks on Our Sense of Smell

First broadcast date: November 22, 2004
10.30 p.m. - 11.15 p.m. on Southwestern TV

It’s nothing new to foreigners - many will tell you that Germans stink. As opposed to being with hygienic Americans, Japanese or Italians, summer on a crowded bus or train in Germany can be torture. Do Germans stink? Are we less clean than other people? Is our belief that we are champions of cleanliness just a myth?

“Yes,” says the Nuremberg psychology professor Reinhold Bergler, who has researched body care amongst Germans, Spaniards and the French. “Yes,” claims the perfume industry, and has started an all out attack on our sense of smell. Liquid soap infused with artificial scents claims to make us feel better. Scented paper trees in taxis try to cover tobacco odors. Dishwasher tablets have lemon scents added to make dishes smell like lemons. Bakeries whose ovens today no longer bake anything more than deep frozen dough use artificial bread aromas to create the illusion of a real bakery.

Why don’t we trust our own sense of smell? Where all do we run into artificial scents? What does this do to us and our health? As we sniff our way through drug stores, bakeries, industrial perfume development laboratories, and clinics we ask, “How many scents, how much perfume is enough?”

Produced by


A film by

Sigrid Faltin



Running time

45 min.


  • commissioning editors: Felicitas Wehnert, Kai Henkel (SWR)
  • cinematographer: Andreas Bein
  • editor: Renate Nebe

„We produce documentary films - it's real life that interests us.“
Sigrid Faltin, white pepper films


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