Wednesday, September 24, 2008

the diving bell and the butterfly

We watched the diving bell and the butterfly - Le scaphandre et le papillon - last night.

It's the story of French journalist and editor of Elle, Jean-Dominique Bauby. In December, 1995, Jean-Do suffered a massive stroke that left him in a condition known as Locked-In syndrome. He was mentally aware of his surroundings but physically paralyzed with the exception of some movement in his head and left eye.

The book was written by Jean-Do blinking his left eyelid. 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. I can't imagine the patience of the transcriber and the persistance of Jean-Do to communiicate like this.

The French edition of the book was published in March of 1997, receiving excellent reviews, selling 150,000 copies in the first week, and becoming a bestseller across Europe. Ten days after the book was published, Jean-Do died of pneumonia.

Great quote from the film: I decided to stop pitying myself. Other than my eye, two things aren't paralyzed, my imagination and my memory.

It's well worth seeing... I missed it in theatres, but it's now out on dvd.



michael lewis said...

I had frequently seen this trailer, and though it looked interesting, I did not know the back story.

Thanks for sharing and for the recommendation.

I will have to put it on the list of DVDs to rent in the hopefully near future.

mike said...

it's worth it