Le scaphandre et le papillon

  • Directors: Julian Schnabel
  • Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Jon Kilik
  • Writers: Memoir, Jean Dominique Bauby, Screenplay, Ronald Harwood
  • Genres: Biography, Drama
  • Actors: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Anne Consigny, Max Von Sydow

The film is told entirely from the restricted point of view of Bauby, as he wakes from his three-week coma in a hospital in Berck, France. A neurologist explains that he has locked-in syndrome, an extremely rare condition in which the patient is almost completely physically paralyzed, but remains mentally normal. At first, the viewer primarily hears Bauby’s thoughts, which are inaccessible to the other characters, and sees through his one functioning eye.

A speech therapist and physical therapist try to help Bauby become as functional as possible. Bauby cannot speak, but he develops a system of communication with his speech therapist by blinking his left eye as she reads a list of letters to spell out his messages, letter by letter.

Gradually, the film’s restricted point of view broadens out, and the viewer begins to see Bauby from ‘outside’, in addition to experiencing incidents from his past, as well as his fantasies, in which he imagines beaches, mountains, The Empress Eugénie, and a large feast. It is revealed that Bauby had been editor of the popular French fashion magazine Elle, and that he had a deal to write a book. He decides that he will still write a book, using his slow and exhausting communication technique. A woman from a publishing house with which Bauby has a book contract is hired to take dictation.

Bauby eventually completes his memoir and hears the critics’ responses to it. However, he dies of pneumonia shortly after the publication.

Munich

  • Directors: Steven Spielberg
  • Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg, Barry Mendel, Colin Wilson
  • Writers: Book, George Jonas, Screenplay, Tony Kushner, Eric Roth
  • Genres: Drama, History, Thriller
  • Actors: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, Geoffrey Rush, Ayelet Zurer, Michael Lonsdale, Mathieu Amalric, Gila Almagor, Moritz Bleibtreu

The film begins with a depiction of the events of the Munich Massacre in 1972. After the killings, the Israeli government devises “an eye for an eye” retaliation. A target list of eleven names is drawn up in retaliation for the eleven Israeli men murdered.

Avner, an Israeli-born Mossad agent of German descent, is chosen to lead the assassination squad because he is not well-known in the field and he knows his way around Europe. To give the Israeli government plausible deniability, Avner officially resigns from Mossad, and the squad operates with no official ties to Mossad or the Government of Israel. Avner is given a team of four men: Steve, a South African driver; Hans, a document forger from Frankfurt; Robert, a Belgian toy-maker trained in defusing explosives; and Carl, a former Israeli soldier who “cleans up” after the assassinations. Since the Mossad is “not connected” to the mission, Avner and his team set about tracking down the eleven targets with the help of an informant, Louis, who is introduced to Avner by an old friend.

The group go to Rome to track down and shoot their first target, Abdel Wael Zwaiter, who is broke and living as a poet in Italy where he has translated One Thousand and One Nights into Italian. The group follows him, from a speech he gave to a small audience, to his apartment building. After confirming the poet is indeed Abdel Wael Zwaiter (by asking him), two members of the nervous squad (Avner & Robert) make their first kill.

A postscript states that nine of the men originally targeted by Mossad were assassinated. It adds that Salameh was eventually killed in 1979.