THE CAMERA IS JEAN-DO

"The diving bell is an image of his stroke, the prison in which he is forever trapped, what neurologists call 'locked-in syndrome.' The butterfly is his imagination and his memory, flying free."

Ronald Harwood at his home in London. Photo by Jean-Philippe DeFaut for The New York Times

"But no butterfly for me. My imagination nestled in his diving bell, inert. For two weeks I agonized and finally came to the conclusion that I would have to tell Kathy [Kennedy, the film's producer] she had misplaced her faith in me. No alternative but to return the money. Now, nothing concentrates a writer's mind more wonderfully than the thought of having to give back the money. I stared at the phone, gathering courage to call my agent when, like a thunderbolt, literally, an idea exploded in my head. What if the story unfolded from Jean-Do's point of view? What if the camera did the blinking? Audiences would not have to gaze endlessly on this pitiful human being but instead see everything as though they themselves were locked in. I rushed to my desk, set the scene in his hospital room, and started: 'Blackness. Silence,' and when I came to write in bold: THE CAMERA IS JEAN-DOMINIQUE BAUBY, KNOWN AS JEAN-DO, I knew the screenplay was possible."

-- Ronald Harwood, who received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay adaptation of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly writing in Script (Jan./Feb. 2008)