Rave reviews for all-round artist Schnabel at Cannes

23rd May 2007, Comments 0 comments

CANNES, France, May 23, 2007 (AFP) - The story of the "Elle" magazine editor left paralysed and mute by a stroke but who bravely went on to dictate what became an international bestseller just by blinking an eye, made a splash at Cannes this week.

CANNES, France, May 23, 2007 (AFP) - The story of the "Elle" magazine editor left paralysed and mute by a stroke but who bravely went on to dictate what became an international bestseller just by blinking an eye, made a splash at Cannes this week.

Directed by US painter, sculptor and filmmaker Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is a lovingly shot and innovative look at the true story of Jean-Dominque Bauby.

Schnabel said he had considered making the film in English with Johnny Depp or Gary Oldman in the lead role before zeroing in on French actor Mathieu Amalric ("Munich").

"This was a story that was based in France and on French people so why do it in English?" he told a news conference in Cannes.

Bauby was a fast-living playboy who was the toast of the Parisian fashion world until he suffered a debilitating stroke at the age of 42 while driving a convertible down a country road with his son.

Schnabel shows him waking up in a seaside hospital after weeks in a coma and suffering from what a neurologist calls "locked-in syndrome" -- he is unable to speak or move any part of his body apart from his left eyelid.

The title refers to Bauby's feeling of being trapped in his body, which has come to resemble the airtight chamber of a diving bell, and his still active mind, still agile as a butterfly.

Viewers are immersed in Bauby's world at the start of the film as Schnabel uses clever camera techniques, voice-overs and flashbacks to present the once vibrant man who is bewildered by his condition and surroundings.

He is taught to communicate using a system in which the alphabet is recited to him and he spells out words by blinking when he hears the letter he wants to use.

A patient publishing assistant takes his dictation for his memoir in this way over the course of many excruciating months.

The real Bauby died 10 days after the release of the book in 1997. The account became an international hit translated into several languages.

Many at the premiere screening were moved to tears by the film, which has already been sold to 10 markets around the world, trade magazine Variety reported.

Schnabel, who won the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice film festival in 2000 for "Before Night Falls" set in Cuba and starring Javier Bardem.

"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is one of 22 features vying for Cannes' coveted Palme d'Or top prize, which will be awarded Sunday by an international jury led by British director Stephen Frears ("The Queen").


Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news

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