Went to a screening of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Julian Schnabel‘s adaptation of the autobiographical book of the same title by Jean-Dominique Bauby which recounts his life after suffering a stroke that left him almost totally paralysed. “The guy who dictated his book by blinking his eyelid” is how everyone refers to him and while that in itself is a remarkable achievement, what’s best in the film is the simple but visually stunning way that Bauby’s experience of locked-in syndrome is recounted. By all accounts the book is quite something (I haven’t read it) and gives fuller rein to Bauby’s attempts to deal with his state through humour (according to my wife). The film is definitely worth seeing and the opening 15 minutes or so are pure cinema, the story seen quite literally from Bauby’s point of view as he first comes round out of his coma post-stroke. (All the effects were done in camera, often using a movable back on the camera resulting in the blurring of the action). There are some nice quirks to the film that made me smile not least the fact that this being a French movie all the women in it from the girl-friend and mistress to the speech therapist are all really hot (and not just Emmanuelle Seigner).
There are a couple clips on YouTube of Schnabel talking about the film:
Reasons to make the film (including fact that Johnny depp was in line for part of Bauby originally)
Biographical aspects of the film
Schnabel did a Q&A after the Bafta screening where he gave TimeOut magazine’s film editor Dave Calhoun the runaround and generally came across as a bit of a prick. I like to think that the YouTube clips above are more indicative of what he’s like in real life (but he’s still an inveterate name-dropper).