Thursday, February 18, 2010
Book/Film: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
This article is about the 1997 book. For the 2007 film, see The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (film).
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Author Jean-Dominique Bauby
Genre(s) Autobiography, Memoir
Publication date March 6, 1997
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.
In 2007 the book was adapted into a feature film of the same name, directed by Julian Schnabel, written by Ronald Harwood and starring Mathieu Amalric as Bauby. Julian Schnabel won best director that year at the Cannes Film Festival. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards in 2008 for directing, cinematography, editing and writing. It would go on to win numerous international awards, including a BAFTA for adapted screenplay, and Golden Globes for best foreign language film and best director.
Since the film's release, a number of Bauby's friends have gone on record saying that several aspects of Bauby's personal life were fictionalized in Schnabel's film, most notably his relationships with the mother of his children and his girlfriend.
While Bauby was still alive, French director Jean-Jacques Beineix made a 25-minute film, "Assigné à résidence" (or "House Arrest"), that captured Bauby in his paralysed state, and the process of the book's composition (WIKI)
Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josée Croze, Anne Consigny, Patrick Chesnais