The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Book) - Jean-Dominique Bauby

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (DVD) - Director Julian Schnabel
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly100This is an absolutely stunning French movie.

It’s the story of Jean-Dominique Bauby editor in chief of the French fashion magazine Elle who suffered a massive stroke. As a result he became a prisoner trapped inside his own body and able to communicate with the outside world only through the blinking of his left eye. Trapped inside the diving bell of his body, his imagination and memory remained unaffected, the butterfly through which his spirit could still fly.

One may scarcely imagine the trauma suffered by Jean-Dominique, yet this film is the story of the immense power of the human spirit, a story he himself told. Painstakingly an assistant would read through the alphabet, pausing to select a letter at the blink of his eye, letter by letter he would create the book on which the film is based. Sadly he died just ten days after completing the book.

Watching this film is an incredibly emotional experience, deeply humbling and at the same time profoundly uplifting.

It is an astonishing story which is stunningly well told by director Julian Schnabel.

In part it is a story of communication and the DVD includes an interview with Schnabel who faced the challenge of communicating the life of someone so completely trapped. His description of how he rose to this challenge is full of insights into how we can understand and inhabit another person’s world.

I thoroughly recommend this as a film you must see.

Steve Unwin
November 2008