Diving Bell and the Butterfly the Movie

Le Scaphandre et le papillon or, in English, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, has also just made my top ten list for 2007.

Directed by a biopic master (and artist) Julian Schnabel (Before Night Falls) this current film is all about Schnabel’s ability to create perspective and communicate texture of life. It is sacramental in this way because it is an external manifestation of an inner reality comprised of a man’s memory and imagination.

Jean-Dominique Bauby (here played by Mathieu Amalric; Munich) was an editor/journilist for Elle magazine when in 1995 at the age of 43, he had a massive stroke that completely impaired his brain stem leaving him with “locked in syndrome”.

Schnabel has interpreted Bauby’s memoirs (dictated by blinking his left eye when the person taking the dictation would say the correct letter) in a way that makes the audience feel Bauby drowning in a sea of unknowing, navigating a life trapped within, and soar with him as his imagination breaks free.

Bauby died about ten days after his memoir was published in 1997.

Bauby was no saint before his stroke. Was he after? It will depend on your definition of holiness. There are many aspects of this film that I love, but the moment Bauby chooses to live, even locked in as he was, touched me profoundly. Isn’t it one of life’s lessons: to change the things you can (and he did), to accept the things you cannot (and he did) and to have the wisdom to know the difference – and this he certainly learned.

Would that we all reach Bauby’s serenity the way Julian Schnabel presents it through the film. Awesome.

Another top ten film for 2007.

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