The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly


AKA: The desperate isolation of a
pre-scuba diving suit and the renewal metamorphous of a butterfly! How
profound, poetic and deep that is! According the movies that is what people
with a disAbility are good for and that is what they do for society and not
much else! But that is a pretty big role in life, huh? Yes it is but it is not
the only significant role of those with a disAbility in our society.


Okay I finally was able to see
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” last Thursday night. Fortunately it finally
made it here in the little city in the very north east corner of Utah! This is another
reason why I cannot wait to get back to SoCal.

I did go into the theatre with my
pre-conceived notions and bias toward the images that are so stereotypical and
in fact terrible for those with a disAbility because this is what the general
public, what society contends that we are all like this transcending the human
condition and an inspiration to everyone around us and if we do not fit into
the stereotype that we do not have a place in society. When will we get any
other depictions of our lives with a disAbility?


I still believe that this movie
does fall into that stereotype and feel somewhat degraded by an able bodied
director who was given so much artistic praise for his camera angels being from
the point of view of the main character in the beginning because I wrote a
short story/screenplay with what I thought was an innovating camera style by
having the first half from that same POV. But at least in my short film story
you do not know that the POV is from a person who is paralyzed and traveling
through the able bodied world on his way to work – until the second half when
the entire first half is replayed from the POV of one of his
friends/co-workers! Here in Schnabel’s perspective and portrayal of a person
who is severely paralyzed we learn that the POV is the main character right
from the beginning. Overall though I did like Schnabel’s direction with the
only additional exception was with so many hard cuts. I don’t know if that was
by Schnabel’s design, the DP’s or the Editors. I understand the use or at least
what I presume was his use in trying to show how the long days were filled with
many of the same long and tedious actions – but it was done in many places that
were not part of that typical daily routine and I do not know how others felt
about it but it was bothersome to me.  


Still despite it perpetuating the
stereotype, and not really showing anything new about the world of those with a
disAbility that wasn’t already done over and over again and in fact not that
long ago with “The Sea Inside”, and the feeling that an able bodied director has stolen my
thunder – my artistic method – I surprisingly did enjoy the film. The pacing
and length of the film was good and it did inspire me, just not like it did for
many others!

As I was sitting in the very back
row of the theatre, the typical seating before wheelchair seating became more
integrated (this is an old theatre and the main reason it shows the art films)
and as I read the dialogue (despite having taken a year of French in high
school it was too long ago) in the sub-titles I was struck by the lines that I
had previously read from reviewers, “Besides my left eye the only two things
not paralyzed is my imagination and my memory.” Ah, that I can surely identify
with and because I have more functioning ability but still have my limitations
being paralyzed from the mid-back down I had to add my passion, ambition and
dedication. Then I realized – damn this is something I have been saying for a
long time. If you read other entries to this blog or my bio on my website or in
a letter I have written to raise awareness and gain support from one of the
nearly one hundred person’s I have contacted in the industry, there are two
commons phrases I use about my paralysis. The first that my accident happened
on April 1, 1995 and I am still waiting for someone to jump around the corner
and scream “APRIL FOOL’S!” and the second more serious common phrase is that my
passion for filmmaking, storytelling on film which began a few years before
when I was at the Art Institute – was that it was not paralyzed with the bottom
half of my body! Proof that those with a disAbility do identify and have
similar experiences with others with a disAbility despite the varying degrees
or types of disAbilities that they share. But because I am sure that this
statement was taken directly from the autobiography written/dictated by Bauby, it
is probably more surprising that a Frenchman and an American saw things the
same way!

Bottom line: See this movie and enjoy it – just keep it in
perspective. Remember this is one of the common stereotypes and that not all of
the 650 million people with a disAbility from around the world – or to be more
specific those who are paralyzed to any degree, are the Dali Lama giving you
perspective on your life and inspiring you to be a better person because you
never know what will happen! I find this stereotype similar to comedians that I
have heard say that when they are out and about meeting people for the first
time are often and immediately being asked to “tell a joke, say something
funny!” I am not saying that you won’t be inspired by some people, those with a
disAbility but know that that is not our purpose in life! We cannot be expected
to be one of the only stereotypes that society is exposed to through the media.
We are as diverse as the general population of the world. Those with a
disAbility make up members from every race, nationality, social and economical
class, every age, gender, and of every creed. And the diversity of both types
of disAbilities as well as varying degrees within each disAbility!

As a reminder the ADA defines a person with
a disAbility as one who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially
limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual. So you are
just as likely to find someone who inspires you among the able bodied as well. Remember
we are people and aside from some personal challenges that are different then
yours we are the same inside. Now it would be a lot easier to do this – if only
there were more portrayals of people with a disAbility in our culture which is often
significantly influenced by movies and television and especially if those
portrayals are authentic voices and representations! Damn, where will we find
such a solution and one that comes in a nicely wrapped commercially viable
package? Wait I have an idea – Click Here!

2 thoughts on “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”

  1. Thanks! And I will keep up the work – my creative passions as a screenwriter and director seem to have to take an extended break while I focus on the business of the production company, raising new capital for the operating expenses and the production budget for the feature film “London Time” along with advocating and raising awareness within the industry – so there is no time to do anything but the good work that will impact and personally affect millions of people world wide and future generations! Roll, walk, stand, sit – with me – as the more voices and images and support from within and outside the disAbled community we have, the more serious Hollywood will take us! And that spotlight is about to EXPLODE onto the surface of this industry and all those who patronage the movies and television – and especially  if James Cameron continues to ignore and seemingly dismiss my communications before his “Avatar” movie premiers in December! Stay tuned – next week I will unveil the “Authentic Representation in Hollywood Campaign!”Larry  

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