TDB&TB Tidbit #25 ~ The Movie

by Jean-Dominique Bauby

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TDB&TB Tidbit #25 ~ The Movie

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Apr 29, 2008 7:56 am

The description of the film is taken from an article found at The Writing Studio.

http://www.writingstudio.co.za/page2026.html

BEWARE SPOILERS BELOW!!!!!!





DIRECTOR'S NOTE - Julian Schnabel


"Had I been blind and deaf or did it take the harsh light of disaster for me to find my true nature?" asks Jean-Dominique Bauby, addressing both himself and all of us. Does it take locked-in-syndrome to make a human being conscious, to make others empathize? Do we have to get sick for the angels to appear and help us?

My father died at 92 and he had never really been sick in his life. He was happily married to my mother for more than 60 years. Most people would sign up for his life immediately but, having never been sick, he was unprepared and terrified of death. He lived with my wife and me at the end of his life but I failed to save him from that fear. Life cannot just be pain, sex, chaos and nothingness. There must be something else.

When Jean-Dominique Bauby was a healthy, strapping, intelligent member of society, he was a qualified author. He was nothing more than a working writer conforming to social success. Through his paralysis and rebirth as an eye - the point of view of what he called the butterfly - he searches his life and life's paradoxes accomplishing a work that has had a profound effect on anyone who has read it.

"My life was a string of near-misses… the women I was unable to love, the chances of joy I let drift away… a race who's result I knew beforehand but failed to bet on the winner. " An introspective look into life. A chance at consciousness. This is the story of all of us, who surely do face death and sickness. But if we look, we can find meaning and beauty here.

I wanted this film to be a tool, like his book, a self-help device that can help you handle your own death. That's what I was hoping for, that's why I did it.

Below is a link to a Times Online interview with Schnabel:


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/audio_video/times_online_tv/?vxSiteId=d8fa78dc-d7ad-4d5a-8886-e420d4bc4200&vxChannel=Arts%20and%20Entertainment&vxClipId=1152_Flashmini_0224&vxBitrate=300


The Film


The film begins like the book. A white, blinding light, a dance of color in soft focus. Strangers faces appear, talking to us, to him. Jean-Dominique Bauby learns he is in a hospital, hooked up to machines to help him breathe. A man dressed as a doctor comes towards him. He gives him a frank assessment of the situation. Bauby has had a cerebro-vascular accident and has been in a coma for several months. He tries to answer, but no one seems to hear him. The doctor explains he is suffering from an extremely rare condition. "Locked-in syndrome" compromises the brain stem, which acts as relay between the brain and the rest of the nervous system. The patient is entirely paralyzed, as if locked inside himself, his whole body trapped by a sort of diving bell. In Bauby's case, only his left eyelid is functional. It is his last window on the world and his only method of communication. One blink for yes, two for no. The brain itself, on the other hand, is in perfect working order. Jean-Dominique Bauby can hear, understand, remember, but he can no longer speak.

Besides the left eyelid, there are two things that still function -- imagination and memory. The butterfly. As Jean-Dominique Bauby's interior dialog swings from funny to tragic, from wisdom to revolt and back again, he decides to tell his story. Not as true-life interview "content," but as a book, as a novel. He memorizes the sentences of his story beforehand, then, using the system developed by his speech therapist, dictates them letter by letter, by blinking when the correct letter is pronounced out loud.

One year and two months in room 119 of the Berck Maritime Hospital, his "bedridden travel notes" were complete. He died ten days after its publication. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le Scaphandre et le Papillon) was published by Les Editions Robert Laffont in 1997 and was a great success. It was translated in many languages and readers are universally moved by a story that might have happened to any one of us. Jean-Dominique Bauby, the Chief Editor of an important fashion magazine, Elle, had been a seducer of women, in the prime of life. He'd led several lives and succeeded in them all. He'd taken care about his health and his appearance. The cerebro-vascular accident was as sudden and unjust as fate itself. And he did, in fact, see it as a sign of destiny. He had lived his life as a journalist with frenetic passion and had never taken the measure of what was truly essential. His children.

He can't shake this feeling of guilt. Almost a year before, he had left his home, his children and their mother, hadn't yet had time to really start a new life. And it stopped suddenly on December 3rd, 1995. Before his stroke, he had signed a book contract with Les Editions Robert Laffont, to do a modern adaptation, the feminine version of The Count of Monte Cristo. Such a sacrilege might just explain his terrible punishment. "You don't mess around with a masterpiece." Jean-Dominique sees himself as Noirtier de Villefort, a dark figure, the repository of grave secrets, condemned to silence and trapped in a wheelchair, communicating only with his eyes. Bauby's book is a veritable literary act. The power of his story makes a writer out of him. A tragic destiny turned him into an artist.

Julian Schnabel's first film was released in 1996. Basquiat was a biography of the artist and a description of the contemporary art world of the eighties. It was a unique project in that it was one painter telling the story of another, in whose private and professional life he'd been intimately involved. A cinematic portrait. Schnabel discreetly portrays himself in the character of Albert Milo, giving him his paintings and his at once spare and palatial studio. The cinematic principles of Julian Schnabel as a filmmaker are already present -- the importance of the music (as in his life as a painter), of sets and costumes, the use of archive footage (much like the found objects in his painting), his obsession with editing and representing the aesthetic vision of the painter. Cinema is images with sound. Those who made the success of Basquiat and Schnabel -- René Ricard, Mary Boone and Bruno Bischofberger -- are described with fierce accuracy. Jean-Michel Basquiat embodies the figures of the intransigent and desperate artist. Convinced of the power of his talent, he is sensitive to the critics. Selfish about the needs of his art, he suffers from his solitude. He can't shake his heroin habit and sinks after the death of his one true friend, Andy Warhol (sublimely portrayed by David Bowie). Basquiat, in a magnificent performance by Jeffrey Wright, meets a tragic fate, dying very young and leaving a shooting star of major work in his wake.


Julian Schnabel pursued his analysis of artists' lives broken by the system (economic or political) with his second feature film, Before Night Falls, 1999, a biography of the Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas who was persecuted by the Castro regime because of his homosexuality and his writings. It is the story of the artist's exemplary courage in the face of his family's poverty, the communist dictatorship, unjust imprisonment and illness. Javier Bardem won best actor at the Venice Film Festival for his expressive, beautiful and moving performance. Julian Schnabel chose this story for the story itself but also out of his involvement in Latin-American culture. His wife is of Latin origin and he himself divides his time between New York City, Long Island and San Sebastian in Spain.


The story of Jean-Dominique Bauby resembles that of an artist's life in the throes of a battle between himself and others. Sickness, like mental illness or genius, is a source of exclusion and misunderstanding. To escape his fate, to escape exterior constraint and human cruelty, one can only count on oneself. On intelligence, creativity and heroism. Through his writing, Jean-Dominique Bauby prolongs his life outside himself, outside his body. The power of dream and thought allows him to cross every border. He had extracted a promise from his wife to adapt the book for film, as accomplishment of this transcendence. But the singular quality and the authenticity of the The Diving Bell and the Butterfly precludes a classical, or "straight" adaptation. To bring such a moving novel to the screen requires a strong aesthetic sense and another look into the formal construction of film in an attempt to reinvent and tailor it to the needs of this story where the main character never speaks. When Kathleen Kennedy, associated with Dreamworks, purchased the rights to the book, she concentrated on that very problem. She signed Ronald Harwood (screenwriter on Roman Polanski's two most recent films, The Pianist and Oliver Twist) to write the screenplay. While maintaining the basic structure of the book, Harwood managed to pace the story between progress and immobility.


Kennedy then had the idea of asking Julian Schnabel to make the movie -- only he could film the interior voyage of Jean-Dominique Bauby. As it happens, Julian Schnabel had discovered the book in a very personal way, through a friend who has now passed on. He is most interested by the film's off-screen narrative technique -- the audience is the main character's only confidant. No one in the film knows what's going on inside his head -- only the reader or the viewer knows. Universal first took on the project. Then it finds its way to Pathé, who produced it with Jon Kilik, who has produced all of Julian Schnabel's films. Schnabel decided to shoot the film in French -- according to him, there is no other way. He chose French actors -- starting with Mathieu Amalric, whom he had spotted in 1999 at the San Sebastian Film Festival in the film Fin août début septembre (Late August, Early September). When she saw him in Steven Spielberg's Munich, Kathleen Kennedy immediately thought he would be good in the role. Julian Schnabel had already told her about him.


The rest of the cast also corresponds to precise choices. Every role, without exception, is played by a well-known actor -- Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josée Croze, Anne Consigny, Patrick Chesnais, Niels Arestrup, Olatz Lopez Garmendia, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Marina Hands, Emma de Caunes, Isaach de Bankolé and Max Von Sydow are the principle players. The photography is executed by Janusz Kaminski, who worked on many Steven Spielberg films.


Julian Schnabel decided to make this film not only because its subject matter fits in well with the rest of his work in film, but also because it resonated for him on a personal level. He was particularly moved by the relationship between Jean-Dominique Bauby and his father, and the scenes between those two characters are very moving. The formal challenge is also at the heart of the project. The first half is filmed from Jean-Dominique Bauby's point of view. The image is sometimes out-of-focus, sometimes brilliant and colorful, sometimes blinding and off-center. Julian Schnabel films like he paints, up close, to the skin, to the film itself. The eroticism in shots of mouths, thighs, necks makes one think of a detail from a painting. The sets, for all their strangeness and luxury, are magical. Jean-Dominique Bauby had named a certain spot in the Berck Maritime Hospital "Cinecitta". He appreciated the poetic, offbeat charm of the place, the "imaginary geography" of a movie studio. Truly taking a position, Jean-Dominique's interior monolog is reconstituted by an off-screen narrative recorded as the film was shot. We live the experience along with him, in the same time and place. The music follows as we alternate between moments of disarray and moments of rebirth. Julian Schnabel believes that Jean-Dominique Bauby's life began after the accident, when he becomes aware of who he really is. He is reborn as a butterfly.


The first part is first person. Through the reciting of the alphabet and the blinking of the left eyelid, Jean-Dominique Bauby can communicate with those around him. His word is first and foremost a sort of writing. "My first word is 'I'. I begin with myself." Using this technique he can get outside himself, escape from his diving bell, come up from underwater. Roam the world, change the course of time, reach a wide audience. The second part is shot from the outside - the camera filming Jean-Dominique Bauby in his new life and showing that threw his work as a writer he has found dignity and life. Mathieu Amalric's interpretation is unique - split between the mastery of a deformed body and the purely oral expression of emotion. Tragedy doesn't preclude humor, as absurd as it is necessary. This film is a lesson about life, not in the moralistic sense, but in the energy that it conveys. One must take advantage of every instant.

Angie David


The film was recognized with the nominations and awards below. It will be released on dvd today, Tuesday, April 29.

Wins
61st BAFTA Awards
BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
65th Golden Globe Awards[6]
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Director - Motion Picture (Julian Schnabel)
60th Cannes Film Festival
Best Director
Technical Grand Prize
National Board of Review
Best Foreign Film
Boston Society of Film Critics
Best Director
Best Cinematography
Best Foreign Language Film
New York Film Critics Online
Best Picture (tie with There Will Be Blood)
Los Angeles Film Critics Association
Best Picture (runner-up)
Best Director (runner-up)
Best Foreign Language Film (runner-up)
Best Cinematography
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association
Best Foreign Language Film
San Francisco Film Critics Circle
Best Foreign Language Film
American Film Institute Awards
Top Ten AFI Movies of the Year
Satellite Awards
Best Cinematography
The EDA Awards
Best Editing
Best Foreign Film
Outstanding Achievement By A Woman In 2007
Toronto Film Critics Association
Best Foreign Film (runner-up)


Nominations
80th Academy Awards[7]
Best Director (Julian Schnabel)
Best Adapted Screenplay (Ronald Harwood)
Best Cinematography (Janusz Kaminski)
Best Film Editing (Juliette Welfling)
Cannes Film Festival
Golden Palm
65th Golden Globe Awards
Best Screenplay - Motion Picture (Ronald Harwood)[8]

For a very interesting interview with Harwood on how he wrote the screenplay, click below:



http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/oscars/article3239123.ece
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Unread postby Parlez » Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:45 pm

A very nice in-depth report on the film! :cool:
I haven't picked up my reserved copy of the dvd, but today is the day it's supposed to be available. I'm sure there will be much discussion here after everyone has had a chance to see it.

Until then, I didn't know Schnabel directed 'Basquiat' - that was a great little gem of a movie! One of the things they mentioned about his films is the importance of music, and TDB&TB is no exception. I've been trying to find the soundtrack, but with no luck so far. It may not be available in the States...?
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Apr 29, 2008 1:50 pm

Parlez, I found this information and interview on The Playlist website:

http://theplaylist.blogspot.com/2007/11/julian-schnabel-talks-diving-bell-music.html

A soundtrack album that just came out this past Tuesday (December 11) via Hollywood record that won't actually have a physical release (you can only get it digitally in stores).





Julian Schnabel's "The Diving Bell & The Butterfly" is one of our favorite films of this year. While music isn't necessarily an overt element of the film, it is integral.

Schnabel actually served as his own music supervisor on the film and there are some great choices and tracks by the Velvet Underground, U2, Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros ("Ramshackle Day Parade"),The Dirtbombs, Tom Waits ("All The World Is Green") and score appropriations from Stanley Kubrick's "Lolita" and Francois Truffaut's "The 400 Blows." The New York Post caught up with the New York artisan/director and he gave few quotes and also reminded us of some of the great appropriations he used in his last film, "Before Night Falls."

"I always listen to music, carry it around with me. I know [certain songs] are going to pop up [in my films] some time or another. I always thought [the Velvet Underground's] "Pale Blue Eyes" was going to play in that scene on that boat."

Paul Cantelon [who composed the score] was a child prodigy and then was hit by a car and had total amnesia. Years later, he was playing the piano and said, "Hey Mom, listen to this," and she said, "That's Bach." So he identified with [the main characters] life and his problem. One day he came to me with these preludes he had written. One of them was perfect, so that was it.

There's some Nino Rota music [in the film] and also Nelson Riddle playing the theme to "Lolita." Whenever I would watch the dailies, I'd play music and see how things fit. In "Before Night Falls," I used [German ambient band] Popul Vuh's music from "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" and there was another bit of Ennio Morricone from "The Battle of Algiers." (DITHOT note: From the category It’s a Small World…this movie is mentioned in my Cinecitta tidbit)

While not featured in the film, the new American trailer features Explosion In The Sky's "Your Hand in Mine (with Strings)" (taken from the "Friday Night Lights" soundtrack). Songs in the trailer and in the film include the Dirtbombs' cover of "Chains of Love," and Ultra Orange with Emmanuelle Seigner 's (Roman Polanski's wife who also stars in the film) "Don't Kiss Me Goodbye." Of note: Johnny Depp was originally scheduled to star in 'Diving Bell,' but then got wrapped up in the 'Pirates' films and was unavailable.

Asked how he found the Dirtbombs song, Schnabel said, "A friend of mine who's a skateboarder left [the CD] at my house in Montauk and I picked it up by mistake. I didn't even know what it was and I was in France and I stuck it in and I heard "Chains of Love" and I thought what the hell is this, this is a great song, and they're great," the director told ComingSoon.

There's no word on a soundtrack disc yet, but here's hoping one gets eventually released.

Songs Used In "The Diving Bell & The Butterfly"
"Theme for 'The Diving Bell & the Butterfly'" by Paul Cantelon
"La Mer" - Performed by Charles Trenet (opening credits)
"Je Chante Sous La Pluie" (French adaptation of "Singin' in the Rain")
"Chains of Love" - Performed by the Dirtbombs
"Concerto for Piano in F Minor, BMV 1056 - Largo" (J.S. Bach)
"Napoli Milionaria" (Nina Rota)
"All the World is Green" - Performed by Tom Waits
"Pauvre Petite Fille Riche" (Vline Buggy/Hubert Giraud)
"Lolita Love Theme" (Robert J. Harris)
"Ultra Violet (Light My Way)" - Performed by U2 (Lourdes flashback/Day scenes)
"Don't Kiss Me Goodbye" - Performed by Ultra Orange with Emmanuelle (Lourdes flashback/Night scenes)
"Pale Blue Eyes" - Performed by the Velvet Underground
"Happy Birthday to You" (Patty & Mildred Hill)
"Quatre Cents Coup" - title track from the Francois Truffaut film
"Ramshackle Day Parade" - Performed by Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros (End credits song #1)
"Green Grass" - Performed by Tom Waits (End credits song #2)
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby fansmom » Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:21 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:Paul Cantelon [who composed the score] was a child prodigy and then was hit by a car and had total amnesia. Years later, he was playing the piano and said, "Hey Mom, listen to this," and she said, "That's Bach."
Well, that's a story I hadn't heard before--and sounds as though it could be a book or movie in its own right!

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Unread postby gemini » Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:48 pm

Very interesting. I suspected that the English version of the film would be dubbed but I am glad to hear that it has not been a distraction to the story. I am looking around for a good price on the DVD.
Julian Schnabel seems to make only films with a purpose or to make you think. I have not seen the biography of Jean Michel Basquiat but I did see Before Night Falls.
I found the interview of Ronald Harwood on the challenges of writing the screen play really interesting. Its amazing how many people Jean Do touched who wanted the film to really show his vision of the world.
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Unread postby Liz » Tue Apr 29, 2008 9:17 pm

Interesting tidbit, DITHOT. I want to see Basquiat now. I can so see David Bowie as Andy Warhol.
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Unread postby nebraska » Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:25 pm

Liz wrote:Interesting tidbit, DITHOT. I want to see Basquiat now. I can so see David Bowie as Andy Warhol.


Another Twilight Zone moment, with the Basquiat connection. Has anyone here seen the movie? I wonder how closely the movie followed his life.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:40 pm

gemini, I found the Harwood interview very interesting too. How he almost gave up and called the studio to say he couldn't do it when suddenly :ohyes: I can't wait to see the movie now. I have it first in line in my online queue. I may just have to add Basquiat too.

fansmom, can you imagine hearing your son play that after all that time! :-O I bet it would make a good story.
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Unread postby teacher » Wed Apr 30, 2008 3:21 am

nebraska wrote:
Liz wrote:Interesting tidbit, DITHOT. I want to see Basquiat now. I can so see David Bowie as Andy Warhol.


Another Twilight Zone moment, with the Basquiat connection. Has anyone here seen the movie? I wonder how closely the movie followed his life.

Nebraska, I've seen it. I didn't realise it was a film of Schnabel's, just learned that (thanks DITHOT!).
It's a great film, you do need to see it. I have no idea how closely it follows Basquiat's life as I don't know much about his life, but it's very well made: captivating yet not overpowering.
Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion. - Tom Wingfield, Glass Menagerie

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Unread postby Parlez » Thu May 01, 2008 10:36 pm

teacher wrote:
nebraska wrote:
Liz wrote:Interesting tidbit, DITHOT. I want to see Basquiat now. I can so see David Bowie as Andy Warhol.


Another Twilight Zone moment, with the Basquiat connection. Has anyone here seen the movie? I wonder how closely the movie followed his life.

Nebraska, I've seen it. I didn't realise it was a film of Schnabel's, just learned that (thanks DITHOT!).
It's a great film, you do need to see it. I have no idea how closely it follows Basquiat's life as I don't know much about his life, but it's very well made: captivating yet not overpowering.

I can't say how closely the movie ('Basquiat') follows the real life story of the artist, but in the world of Andy Warhol, who cares?! :lol: Reality was a 'construct' to Andy and his ilk...it only got in the way of creativity. Ergo, I think the film holds its own, and, you're right, DitHoT, seeing Bowie as Warhol is priceless!
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Unread postby fansmom » Sat May 17, 2008 1:11 pm


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Unread postby Liz » Sun May 18, 2008 10:22 am

Thanks for noticing that one and passing it on Fansmom. I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, though. I need to wait until the family isn't around.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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