Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Le Scaphandre et le Papillon

As part of our Kino4 cinema club at university we watched to film Le Scaphandre et le Papillon (The Diving Bell & the Butterfly).

Here is a brief synposis of the film: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a translation of the French memoir Le scaphandre et le papillon by journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby. It describes what his life is like after suffering a massive stroke that left him with a condition called locked-in syndrome. It also details what his life was like before the stroke.

On December 8, 1995, Bauby, the editor-in-chief of Elle magazine, suffered a stroke and lapsed into a coma. He awoke 20 days later, mentally aware of his surroundings but physically paralyzed with the exception of some movement in his head and eyes (one of which had to be sewn up due to an irrigation problem). The entire book was written by Bauby blinking his left eyelid, which took ten months (four hours a day). A transcriber repeatedly recited a French language frequency-ordered alphabet (E, S, A, R, I, N, T, U, L, etc.), until Bauby blinked to choose the next letter. The book took about 200,000 blinks to write and an average word took approximately two minutes. The book also chronicles everyday events for a person with locked-in syndrome. These events include playing at the beach with his family, getting a bath, and meeting visitors.

My own review- I was unfamiliar with the work of Julian Schnabel but as ever I was willing to learn from the film and use it as inspiration. The film was beautifully styled, a charming and emotional story of struggle and hope. I found the strength of the character particularly endearing and the belief of the other characters so heart warming. It was definitely a film that I could watch again as it really appeals to my design sensibilities. The subtle colours of the intro to the film are wonderful and the title sequence is like no other.


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