A few months ago I finally read, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, Jean-Dominque Bauby’s moving memoir, written after he was diagnosed and living with locked-in syndrome. Jean-Do as he was known to his friends, dictates the book over the course of 14 months via the blinking of his left eye. Letter by excruciating letter, he lets the outside world into his locked in existence and in the process shows that even the most able bodied individual, if not living life to the fullest, is locked in as well.
As I was researching for this blog post, I came across something interesting. At the time of Bauby’s stroke, he was under contract to his publisher for a modern retelling of The Count Of Monte Cristo, a book in which the character of Noirtier de Villefort suffers a stroke that leaves him completely paralyzed and aphonic. Ironically, de Villefort, like Bauby, communicates only through the use of his eyes. Bauby’s decision to honor this contractual obligation is what inspires him to write his memoir in the first place. It is estimated that over 200,000 eye blinks were required for Jean-Do to tell his tale to Claude, the woman dispatched to the hospital by Bauby’s publisher to capture his words.
The book was made into a movie but unfortunately, it hasn’t and probably wont make an appearance in my town, so I must wait for it’s arrival on Netflix. From the trailers that I’ve seen along with review that I’ve read, it appears to be a visually stunning masterpiece with a phenomenal soundtrack to match.
I think the New Year is a great time to see this film and ask yourself how you’re locked in and in what ways you can let your imagination set you free.