Le Scaphandre et le papillon (2007)
From he burst onto the scene with Basquiat a little over a decade ago, it was clear that Julian Schnabel would have something to offer the movie business that most filmmakers with a more traditional background has not. With his third film, Le scaphandre et le papillon, Schnabel demonstrates that he is an artistic genius who not only has the ability, but also the courage to offer a visionary, alternative point of view to life as a paralysed. We meet famed Parisian fashion editor Jean-Dominique Bauby who, after suffering a stroke at the age of 42, was diagnosed with locked-in syndrome - a condition in which almost every voluntary muscle in the body is paralysed, but where there is no damages to the consciousness or cognitive ability of the brain. With vision, insight, warmth and respect, Schnabel renders Bauby's post-stroke life largely from first person perspective, using camera effects and well-worked thought-voiceover to brilliant effect as Bauby gradually learns to accept his new existence. Rarely has the film medium given an entry into the mind of a protagonist in the way it is done in Le scaphandre et le papillon. Through Schnabel's brilliant conduction, we are able to live Bauby's desperations and elations to an extent that one can usually only do through books. And the film is filled with the humour and warmth that largely evaded three years older brother Mar Adentro. A remarkable film of genuine, uncorrupted spirit that won Schnabel the best director award at Cannes.