derrière le rideau de toile mitée une clarté laiteuse annonce l’approche du petit matin. j’ai mal aux talons, la tête comme une enclume, et une sorte de scaphandre qui m’enserre tout le corps. ma tâche consiste maintenant à rédiger les carnets de voyages immobiles d’un naufragé échoué sur les rives de la solitude…
le scaphandre et le papillon is a drama film based of the memoir of jean-dominique bauby. the film depicts bauby’s life after suffering a massive stroke which left him with a condition called “locked-in syndrome”. the locked-in syndrome is a condition which the patient aware and awake, but cannot move or communicate due to the complete paralysis of nearly all muscles in patient’s body resulting from the damage of the ventral parts of the pons in the brain stem lesion. this condition has been described as “the closest thing to being buried alive”
jean-dominique bauby was a well-known french journalist and author and editor-in-chief of the french fashion magazine elle. at the age of 43, he had a massive stroke and woke twenty days later in a hospital and found himself he was unable to move, all he could do was only blinking his eyelids.
then he learned how to communicate with his eyelid by blinking. later he decided to compose a memoir describing what his life is like before and after the stroke. the entire book was written by blinking his left eyelid to mark an alphabet which a transcriber recited to him one by one according to french frequency-ordered alphabet ( Ｅ Ｓ Ａ Ｒ Ｉ Ｎ Ｔ Ｕ Ｌ Ｏ Ｍ Ｄ Ｐ Ｃ Ｆ Ｂ Ｖ Ｈ Ｇ Ｊ Ｑ Ｚ Ｙ Ｘ Ｋ Ｗ ) the book took more than 200,000 blinks and each word took about two minutes.
the book was first published in march, 1997 in france. it was sold over 150,000 copies in the first week and became a number one best seller across europe. ten days after the book was published, jean-dominique bauby passed away from pneumonia.
the american film director “julian schnabel”, screen writer “ronald harwood”, and cinematographer “janusz kaminski” have done an incredible job transforming bauby’s memoir into a splendid film. schnabel literally put the audience inside jean-dominique bauby’s head telling the story using camera as if we were looking through bauby’s eye and also hearing his thoughts.
the performance of emmanuelle seigner is incredible, especially the scene which she assists bouby to communicate with his lover on telephone. not to forget to mention the great performance of max von sydow who portrays bouby’s father, in the scene which he gives his son a call. it’s indescribable…
le scaphandre et le papillon (a.k.a. english title : the diving bell and the butterfly) is amazingly astounding, inspiring, mesmerzing, powerful, emotional and touching. it is unimaginable even to begin to describe what it feels like to be trapped in your own body, to sense everything but unable to move or do anything. jean-dominique bauby probably is the first person who could tell the world through his book what it is like to be locked inside his own body, allowing us to undertand more of this rare syndrome, making people appreciate their each and every moment, and not taking anything for granted.
j’ai décidé de ne plus jamais me plaindre. je viens de m’apercevoir à part mon œil, il y a deux choses qui ne sont pas paralysées : mon imagination et ma mémoire. ce sont les deux seuls moyens de m’évader de mon scaphandre. (i decided to stop pitying myself. other than my eye, two things aren’t paralyzed : my imagination and my memory. my imagination and my memory are the only way i can escape my diving bell.)