Sunday, October 30, 2011


I watched Julian Schnabel's 2007 film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly shot in French with an all-French cast. Just on general principles I was leery initially of the Oprah-like story-line — "overcoming horrible adversity" — but eventually talked myself into watching this one anyway out of admiration for Schnabel's earlier movies, Basquiat and Before Night Falls.

Well (not to launch into a tedious summary) it was beautifully made and with great restraint, great respect. I was quite won over, and not least by the star — Mathieu Amalric, an actor I had never seen before.

All through the movie I was vaguely distracted by the familiarity of his face, but not till the credits at the end could I figure out why. Then I saw that a photograph in the film showing the main character as a child was actually a photograph of Roman Polanski as a child. When I later read something about Amalric's biography, it turned out that his mother's family came from the same village in Poland as the family of Roman Polanski (below). Several of Polanski's regular collaborators worked on Schnabel's film as well.

Somehow the convoluted Polanski connection — confirmed by the physical resemblance — caught my interest. All this past year I have only been watching French movies, I don't know why that is. But it will amuse me to make a little project now out of seeing more of the films acted in or directed by Mathieu Amalric.