I have been feeling the urge to watch a lot of French or French inspired films lately. One of the DVDs I picked up was Le Scaphandre et le Papillon or The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Directed by Julian Schnabel, it tells the story of Jean-Do Bauby – the editor of French Elle – who suffers a stroke, leaving him completely paralysed. The only thing he can move is his left eye.
Thankfully, with the dedicated care of the people around him, he still enjoys a quality of life and the ability to communicate – with a blinking derived alphabet system. It all culminates in the publishing of a novel, as transcribed by his supporters.
If you have seen the recent James Bond movie, you may be familiar with Mathieu Amalric, who plays Bauby. I was saddened by his role in the Hollywood explode-a-rama, however do not fear he is a brilliant actor and The Diving Bell is a testament to this.
The film has not been without disputes. In real life, Bauby’s girlfriend is not the wench she is made out to be in the movie, as this article discusses. Florence Bensadoun actually spent weeks by his bedside, tending to her lover, while the filmic wife was apparently not true to life.
Despite the controversy, Le Scaphandre et le Papillon is still a loving, dreamy film that shows that a life is still to be valued even when everything but your mind is gone.
(This is the French cinema trailer, which in my mind is far superior to the Western offering.)