Thursday, December 6, 2007
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Jean-Dominique Bauby was a French journalist and author and editor of the magazine ELLE. At the age of 43, on December 8, 1995, he suffered a massive stroke which rendered his brain stem inactive. When he woke up twenty days later, he found he was mute and almost entirely paralyzed; he could only move his head a little, grunt, and blink his left eyelid. This rare condition is called locked-in syndrome.
He was able to develop a way of communicating by blinking once for yes and twice for no as someone read the alphabet. And through this process wrote a novel about his experience.
That book has been made into a film directed by the painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel. I just saw the film tonight at a special SIFF screening, and it is stunning, it's no wonder Schnabel picked up the Best Director award at Cannes this year for it. I think that this movie could have been have been just average in the hands of another director or if it was made in the US. The studio and even the French distributers wanted it to be an english language film, but as i learned at the Q&A afterwords, Schnabel fought to have it shot in France and spoken in French with French actors. The sound of the french language allows for someone reading the alphabet over and over again to have a beautiful, poetic rhythm, that could have easily sounded dull and repetitive in English. The photography in the movie is stunning, shot by Janusz Kaminski, Steven Spielberg's longtime DP. It is a beautiful piece of filmmaking that should be experienced in a movie theatre. It should be out soon, but in the meantime watch the trailer.
i - Wikipedia