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Let Your Imagination Set You Free

by habituallychic

11 . 09 . 07

While I was at the movies to see The Darjeeling Limited recently, I saw the most intriguing movie preview. It was for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the English title of the French movie Le Scaphandre et le Papillon. The visuals were stunning and the story seemed so interesting. Even more interesting was the director, artist Julian Schnabel. I had to learn more and what I found out is nothing short of amazing.

First, I was shocked to learn that the movie is based on the memoir, Le Scaphandre et le Papillon, by Jean-Dominique Bauby, the editor-in-chief of French Elle who suffered a rare stroke to the brain stem. Only his brain and his left eye were left undamaged. Yet Bauby didn’t let a small thing like paralysis stop him from blinking his memoir into existence. His memories included a combination of how he remembered life and how he imagined life would have been had he not been paralyzed at the age of 43. His extravagant and larger than life interpretation of a world he never knew is inspirational and heartwarming. You can read chapter one here.
“My diving bell becomes less oppressive, and my mind takes flight like a butterfly. There is so much to do. You can wander off in space or in time, set out for Tierra del Fuego or for King Midas’s court.

You can visit the woman you love, slide down beside her and stroke her still-sleeping face. You can build castles in Spain, steal the Golden Fleece, discover Atlantis, realize your childhood dreams and adult ambitions.

Enough rambling. My main task now is to compose the first of these bedridden travel notes so that I shall be ready when my publisher’s emissary arrives to take my dictation, letter by letter. In my head I churn over every sentence ten times, delete a word, add an adjective, and learn my text by heart, paragraph by paragraph. “

Sadly, Bauby died two days after the book was published in France but now his story continues to live on in the movie version that opens in select theaters on November 30th. I know a lot of people are put off by reading subtitles but I hope that doesn’t prevent most from seeing this beautiful film. Julian Schnabel won the prize for Best Director at the Festival de Cannes in 2007 and resisted pressure by the production company to make it in English, believing that the rich language of the book wouldn’t work as well in English, going so far as to learn French to do the film. There is an interesting interview with him on Parisvoice that is also worth checking out.

I tend to stay away from depressing books and films since I am a sucker for a happy ending but I’ve heard from many people that this movie actually has a sense of humor, in addition to being very moving and inspiring. It makes you remember that life is short and that each day should be lived to the fullest. If nothing else, I hope The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, puts things in perspective for those of us who worry too much sometimes about how many pairs of shoes we own or that our house isn’t perfect.

Comments Closed

  1. Richie Designs November 9, 2007 | 5:59 pm

    I’m not a fan of Julian Schnabel’s art but his movies have been divine.

    I’ve been looking forward to this one for some time.

  2. Habitually Chic November 9, 2007 | 6:07 pm

    Ritchie Designs, I’m more familiar with Julian Schnabel’s art than his movies, other than Basquiat, which was brilliant. I can’t wait to see this movie. I think I might have to pick up the book as well.

  3. Alice Olive November 9, 2007 | 6:29 pm

    The last sentence from the quote is beautiful. I am going to have to get this book – thank you for the post! Enjoy the weekend!

  4. Brilliant Asylum November 9, 2007 | 7:07 pm

    The trailer is beautiful. Thanks for the recommendation!

  5. Habitually Chic November 9, 2007 | 7:12 pm

    Alice, I told myself I wasn’t allowed to buy a new book until I finished Love in the Time of Cholera but I may have to break down and buy this one this weekend.

  6. Habitually Chic November 9, 2007 | 7:14 pm

    BA, the trailer is so sad and happy at the same time. It’s what got me about this movie. I can’t wait to see it!

  7. Alice Olive November 9, 2007 | 9:16 pm

    I know that feeling about books. Sometimes I get panicky because I’ve bought too many books and they’re piling up waiting for me to read. Currently read is “Maynard and Jennica”.

    I also have a weakness for recipe books so, and thanks to your blog, I recently bought Park Avenue Potluck. This weekend I am planning a little feast experimentation.

    I do love the early part of Winter – perfect for cooking, reading, wrapping yourself in scarves, gloves, lingering over brunch…. You can tell I have a particularly lazy weekend on the way!

  8. Habitually Chic November 9, 2007 | 9:33 pm

    I’ll have to check out Maynard & Jennica. I’m not familiar with it.

    I still have to find the Prailine Topped Sweet Potaoes recipe for you. I just to figure out where I put it or it might be easier to have my mom send it to me again 😉

    I think a lazy weekend sounds great! Enjoy! I want to try to make it to a museum and a movie but who knows what will happen. Sometimes, it’s better to just go with the flow!

  9. Suzy November 10, 2007 | 4:35 am

    I can’t wait until the Darling Limited comes out here…AND I’m also really excited that there is a Julian Schnable exhibition on here at the moment that I’m going to check out next week. I’ll have to keep a look out for this movie, it sounds fascinating.

  10. Habitually Chic November 12, 2007 | 5:46 pm

    Suzy, I’m not sure I understood everything that happened in the Darjeeling Limited but it was a very intresting movie.

    You must see the Julian Schnabel exhibition. I really love his work and that he has so much creativity that he makes films in addition to paintings.

  11. Style Court November 13, 2007 | 4:01 pm


    You put this together so well. In case anyone is interested, I happen to have on my site right now a link to a fundraiser that benefits the profoundly disabled — it’s under give.