Film Talk Friday - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

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Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner & Marie-Josee Croze
Director: Julian Schnabel
Screenplay by: Ronald Harwood
Based on the Memoir: Le scaphandre et le papillon by Jean-Dominique Bauby

This week I had the privilege to watch The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I use the word privilege because it was such an amazing and inspiring film. It is a French film based on the autobiography written by Jean-Dominique Bauby, who was a renowned journalist and the editor in chief of French Elle Magazine. Bauby suffered a stroke and went into a coma for almost three weeks. When he awoke he was diagnosed with a rare disease locked in syndrome. With this syndrome his brain was fully competent and functional but he was paralyzed from head to toe. The only function he could perform was to blink his eyes. His left eye was bad and had to be sewn up leaving him with only his right eye. He worked with a speech therapist who worked out a way of communication with Bauby by reciting a frequency ordered alphabet. The alphabet was in the order of the most frequently used letters starting with E, S, A and R. Bauby would blink when the therapist said the letter he wanted and she would put together the words he was trying to express. Before Bauby had his stroke he had a publishing deal to write a book. He decided that he still wanted to write that book. Bauby had his therapist contact the publisher and the publisher sent out a translator to work with Bauby everyday to write his book. The translator worked with Bauby every day until his book was finished.

The film focuses on Bauby’s time in the hospital, his love life and his time before the stroke. Bauby passed away two days after his book was published of pneumonia. The book received great reviews and went on to become very successful. Once I found out this movie was based on his memoir I was just blown away of the determination and will power Bauby had. I am definitely going to go out and buy this book to read. I have a feeling it will be even more powerful than the movie. So if you can stand to read subtitles and have Netflix you need to watch this film! If you do, let me know what you think?

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