La Scaphandre et le Papillon (2007) Dir- Julian Schnabel
This too a while to track down but eventually a 2008, low quality youtube clip in spanish subtitles was found. The reason I did this? To demonstrate the acting prowess of Mr Max Von Sydow – highlighted in a fine career appreciation piece by Terrence Rafferty in the December 2015 issue of The Atlantic – whilst reminding myself what an overwhelmingly tactile and poignant film director Julian Schnabel made from Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoir.
Surely one of the most underappreciated legends in acting, Von Sydow has been demonstrating his craft on screen and stage for nearly seven decades, his association with mentor Ingmar Bergman catapulting him to international recognition in 1957 with his role as the medieval knight facing off in a game of chess with Death in the the iconic artfilm classic The Seventh Seal. In a fruitful partnership, he made a total of eleven films with Bergman and has portrayed an impressive array of characters in films across a broad range of genres working with the likes of Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Jan Troell, John Milius, William Friedkin, Wim Wenders, Dario Argento, David Lynch, John Huston, George Stevens, Sydney Pollack, Ridley Scott etc etc…
Anyway, click on the link to the article and watch this beautiful scene from Schnabel’s film in which Von Sydow, as the ailing father of Jean-Dominique Bauby- played by Mathieu Almeric – calls his son from the confines of his apartment, unable to descend the stairs due to his advancing age. What unfolds is heartbreaking; his son who is physically paralyzed and unable to speak due to a condition known as locked-in syndrome blinks his left eye, using a system of letters communicated by his speech and language therapist as he listens over the phone, a once potent figure becomes a weak, frustrated, fragile father incapable of helping, comforting him, unable to even speak with him because of circumstances beyond their control.