Out of a nightmarish medical condition, wisdom

It’s the kind of real-life story that seems impossible (and too terrible) to believe: In 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby, the 43-year-old editor of French Elle magazine, suffered a stroke and awoke weeks later suffering from “locked-in syndrome.” This meant that while his brain functioned perfectly, the only way he could communicate was by blinking his left eye . . . which he then used to spell out his memoir, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, one letter at a time. That in itself is amazing. The fact that someone actually managed to make it into an engaging, moving film (in French with subtitles, opening 11/30) is more unbelievable still.

Director Julian Schnabel is a painter, and his artist’s eye is apparent in the film’s cinematography, which is evocative and clever but never self-indulgent. Instead of getting bogged down in tragedy, the film is filled with surprisingly humorous moments, and is a fully serious (but not lugubrious) look at “quality of life,” consciousness, humanity, and death.

WATCH the trailer for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

SEARCH Ask.com for more information on Jean-Dominique Bauby and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here.

Out of a nightmarish medical condition, wisdom