Some movies affect us in ways that are indescribable. Some movies linger on and stay with us long after the credits roll down the screen. The Butterfly and the Diving Bell is just such a movie.
The first time I watched this unique film I was mesmerized, pinned to my chair with anticipation and disbelief. The movie’s point of view is unique: it is seen through the eye of the protagonist, Jean-Dominique Bauby, who, at the age of 43, while at the top of his game as the editor in chief of Elle Magazine, became paralyzed from head to toe, due to a massive stroke.
A subject such is this seems somber, yet this remarkable movie is nothing of the sort. It is a tribute to the human spirit, that distillation of man which triumphs over any and all obstacles and exalts us to the highest realm. It is the extraordinary thing about us, that unique piece of Heaven built into each and every one of us.
Although confined to a useless body that only weights him down (thus the Diving Bell analogy), Jean-Dominique’s spirit and vivid imagination (the Butterfly) comforts him and allows him the freedom to roam, if only in his mind.
Q: How can a person in Jean-Dominique’s condition succeed in writing a best selling book?
A: By blinking.
That’s right! Jean-Dominique Bauby wrote the best selling book “The Diving Bell and The Butterfly” by blinking each and every letter of the book, an unimaginable feat. His work allows us to peer into the mind of a man whose body is completely paralyzed, with the exception of his one eye, the instrument of his dictation, being absolutely the only part of his body not frozen by his affliction.
I wanted to share this movie with you because it is Christmas and New Year’s soon. It is a gift, something you can refer to in times of joy and in times of pain, in times of uncertainty and tribulation. This is a movie I can watch again and again and walk away thinking that I really need to pay more attention to savoring the moments in my life. At the end of the movie I am left with a deep sense of appreciation for life and for all that I have. I hope you get a chance to share this important movie with those you love. Its depth and meaning will stay with you well into 2010.