Sunday, 7 December 2008

The Diving Bell And The Butterfly

Imagine this: Every bit of your body is paralysed, except for your left eyelid. Your hearing and sight (in that one eye) are still intact and your brain is totally active, more so now that you have to lie immobilised on a hospital bed all day long. The only way that you can communicate with the world is by having someone read out the letters on this card, in sequence, and you blink once each time they hit the right letter. Then you start from the top again until you get the words to make your sentences. A time-consuming and mentally-exhausting process. Jean-Dominique Bauby, a 42-year-old life-loving editor of French Elle, "blinked" a memoir about his rare condition and The Diving Bell and The Butterfly is the film version of it, adapted brilliantly for the screen by writer Ronald Harwood and directed by Julian Schnabel.

The boyfriend and I watch way too many DVDs for me to write about every single one here but if you have not seen it and will only be taking one out from the library this week, make it this gut-wrenchingly beautiful movie.

I have to warn you though, the first half of the movie - the heavy "diving bell" half - shot from the perspective of Jean-Do's left eye (an extremely clever use of filmic device by Ronald Harwood) was so effective in making me feel what he was feeling (mostly hair-tearing frustrated), so much so that I felt like ejecting the disc. If you feel the same when watching and are tempted to press "stop", don't. I assure you that you will be rewarded with the less weighty but not fluffy "butterfly" half to follow. Masochistic me is going out to buy the book.

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