Sunday, July 24, 2011

Movie- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly or Le scaphandre et le papillon (2007)

This movie is based off the memoir (of the same title) of Jean Dominique Bauby, who was the editor for Elle magazine. At the age of 43, in 1995, Bauby suffered a massive stroke, which left him almost completely paralyzed. He couldn't speak, and he could only move any eye, and some slight head movements after a while. But his mind is working just fine, so the doctors diagnose him with Locked In Syndrome. After accepting his condition, Bauby begins writing his memoir of his illness, by dictating the novel. As he cannot speak, this is done by someone saying the alphabet (arranged by the frequency of use of letters in French) and him blinking once the correct letter is reached. The book was published just a few days before his death in 1997.

I have not read the book, but I was familiar with the movie by name, as it was nominated for several awards in 2008, including a few Oscars. It was a very interesting film. I would say, almost half of the film is told in Bauby's point of view. Not just him narrating, but seeing through his eye(s) as if you were him. You hear his thoughts, realizing they can't hear you. See his malfunctioning eye being sewn shut. We don't get a very good look of Mathieu Amalric, the actor playing Bauby, until well into the movie.

The dialogue was too quick, and my French too rusty for me to follow in French, so I was reliant on the subtitles. It got a bit disorienting when the communication with the alphabet started, since she'd say the French letters, and subtitles would be showing the equivalent positioned letter for the translated English word. Amalric did a fine job as Bauby, especially having to maintain the post stroke appearance.

I'm not usually drawn to biography's, but having seen this film, I think I may have to pick it up and give it a read


Her Royal Orangeness said...

I watched this a few years ago and enjoyed it very much. I liked how the story was told, though some of the camera work and acting seemed a bit unpolished. I think the book would be an interesting read.

Sarah said...

The camera work was unconventional in this. Although some of it seemed like it was an attempt to make it seem like we were experiencing his disability and illness