Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Writing a Book, One Blink at a Time ...

Yes, a very sobering way to write a book. Try blinking your eye for each letter of each word of each sentence you are thinking. And not just a paragraph to fill the blog cage but for an entire book. That's how Jean-Dominique Bauby, a former editor of Elle, dictated his redemptive memoir, Le Scaphandre et le Papillon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly). Letter by letter, blink by blink on hearing continual recitations of the alphabet. Julian Schnabel directed a screen adaptation of the book, oui, en Français, with Matthieu Almaric in the lead and a mostly French supporting cast and crew.

The film was
screened at the NYFF yesterday. Whatever you might have thought of Schnabel's press conference showmanship--I was a bit taken aback-- his Best Director prize from Cannes and his cameraman's Janusz Kaminski's Prix de la Technique are well deserved. They successfully told the story from the point of view--both visual and psychological-- of a character who has "locked-in syndrome" ie almost complete paralysis, except for the movement of one eye, while remaining totally lucid (the result of a massive stroke). Kaminski's camera brilliantly rose to the challenge of recreating monoptic vision. The voice-over of Bauby's ironic interior monologue works well, and the decision to use the original northern French seaside hospital location and medical personnel who had treated Bauby add to the film's authenticity.

So no more kvetching about literary chores.

[I would post a clip from the pc here, except that I just shipped my camera back to the repair shop for a "redo" and can't upload.)