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Two excellent French movies

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a 2007 film adaptation of the memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby. Bauby had a massive stroke which left him paralysed except for the ability to move a single eyelid – the ‘locked-in syndrome’. He communicated using this eyelid to write a memoir describing his interior journey. The film is a remarkable achievement and one of the best I have watched in 2008. Sensitive and moving but not at all weepy, Bauby has an appealing inner toughness. The gradual pace of the movie parallels Bauby’s situation – it initially adopts only his perspective but gradually unfolds to show something of his rich life prior to the stroke and his subsequent extraordinary strength and imagination. Simply a great movie.

I also watched the 2006 version of Lady Chatterley directed by Pascale Ferran. I thought this was a worthwhile adaptation and more subtle than the excellent earlier 1981 version starring a young Sylvia Kristel which warmed the blood. Kristel had experience as Emmanuel in doing that – but the film overall had an unrealistic rauchiness about it. The Ferran version has a different conclusion to both Lawrence’s book and the earlier version. This is a sensitively drawn story of romance, class and sex. I found the eroticism tasteful and the issues of class more thoughtfully drawn than in the earlier film version I mention. For example, Connie the aristocrat is sold on the game keeper Mellors for sure but not completely sold. The scenery and photography were a notable feature – the film is technically well done. Margaret and David reviewed the film in their At The Movies show and, for once, I agreed with Margaret.

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