Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Le Scaphandre et le papillon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)

Le Scaphandre et le papillon is based on the real life of Jean-Dominique Bauby, an editor of Elle, who became the victim of a condition known as 'locked-in syndrome' after suffering a massive stroke. Bauby, played by Mathieu Amalric (probably most familiar in the west as Louis the arms dealer in Munich), is trapped within his body (much like within the titular Diving Bell), his mind active but unable to move anything but his left eye and eyelid. With the help of one of his therapists, Henriette (played by Canadian Marie-Josée Croze), Bauby learns to communicate through blinking. At first dismayed, even suicidal, over his predicament, Bauby soon comes to accept his fate, and through a translator, Claude (Anne Consigny), dictates out his life and experiences.

Warmly received at Cannes, where director Julian Schnabel won the best director prize, the movie was very powerful, and Amalric showed Bauby's frustration and eventual acceptance despite being restricted to moving a single eye. Initially, the film takes place from the perspective of Bauby, communicating his disorientation and isolation. As he opens up and accepts his fate, the camera is free to move in the third-person perspective and even flashback as Bauby recalls parts of the past.

Director Julian Schnabel, Emmanuelle Seigner (who plays the mother of Bauby's children), Marie-Josée Croze, and Olatz Lopez Garmendia (who plays Bauby's physiotherapist) were in attendance. Schnabel started with a few words to introduce the film, but there was no Q&A, as it typical of films shown in the Elgin.


My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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