The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

When he was in his early 40s, Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor of a French fashion magazine, suffered a massive stroke which left him completely paralyzed except for the movement of one eye. By using this eye and a Morse code of sorts, he was able to dictate a memoir to a caring and patient scribe. It is not a memoir in the traditional sense but a series of observations, a stream-of-consciousness examination of one man’s feelings, random memories and spiritual meanderings as he lies immobile in a hospital outside of Paris.

This memoir, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, was not an easy book to adapt to film, since its rambling structure lacks the forward motion that allows for plot, conflict and resolution. When I first read the book, my first thought was that it would make a wonderful collage or mosaic, featuring symbolic images that have faded over time. Think Diego Rivera with a final pass by Salvador Dali.


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