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#296. Osteogenesis Imperfecta

Disabilities aren’t what they used to be. What was once a death sentence for many people has become mostly an inconvenience today due to the advancements of medical science and pharmacological solutions. Still, even the technological advancements in medicine haven’t yet solved some of the rarer diseases. If anything, providing a comfortable way to live life is the closest some people will ever get to obtaining a cure. Despite a handful of diseases being so rare that there aren’t enough subjects to study for a cure, a few have symptoms just interesting enough to raise awareness. Cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are mostly understood, but what if someone has brittle bones? What type of life could someone with Osteogenesis Imperfecta live? This week’s two films highlight characters who have Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease.

Unbreakable
Year: 2000
Rating: PG-13
Length: 106 minutes / 1.76 hours

Osteogenesis Imperfecta is seen in about one in every 20,000 births, which calculates out to a 0.005% chance a newborn would have this disability. While there are a number of different types of this disease, most involve a deficiency of collagen. There are a few types of Osteogenesis Imperfecta which are fatal, but there are also a number of types of this disease which can be survived. As with any severe disease, a person’s attitude can often determine their quality of life while enduring the symptoms. Some are likely to “give up”, but those with strong wills can find ways to live with their ailment, sometimes even making it a part of their identity. The more people who live with a rare disease and are able to educate the public on it, the more accepting society will become of these cases. Unfortunately, sometimes the means to do this are a little . . . misguided.

Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) was born in the 1960’s with a mild type of Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Because of his fragile nature, he spent a large amount of time sitting quietly and reading comic books. While this led to his eventual career as an art dealer specializing in comics, it also gave him an idea. What if, somewhere out there, a person with an equally opposite body existed? What if there was someone who was “unbreakable”? When he learns of David Dunn (Bruce Willis), the sole survivor of a train crash, he immediately gets in touch with the man to explain his theory. Of course, this theory follows all the tropes of comic books, including the weakness of the hero being something simple, like David’s inability to swim. As Elijah learns more about David’s powers, David soon realizes Elijah has some secrets of his own.

AmélieAmélie
Year: 2001
Rating: R
Length: 122 minutes / 2.03 hours

The people who have a rare disease like Osteogenesis Imperfecta have a choice to make: they can live their life in pity of their condition, or they can live their life to the fullest extent possible. Granted, with a limiting disease like Osteogenesis Imperfecta, the “fullest extent” isn’t the same as for people who do not have the disease. Still, introverts may thrive with such a disease, since it allows for a very low-impact lifestyle, often spent indoors reading or painting. The key to understanding these diseases is in the people who have them. They are still people, with hopes and dreams. Just because they have a disability doesn’t make them any less of a person. In fact, the less we focus on people’s limitations and focus more on their passions; often we’ll find that we all have something relatable inside of us.

Because of an incorrect diagnosis of a heart defect, Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) was homeschooled by her parents. Consequently, her loneliness spurred her to develop an active and disruptive imagination. After the death of her parents, she obtained a job as a waitress and moved into an apartment where she eventually meets her neighbor, Raymond Dufayel (Serge Merlin). While he is quite reclusive due to his Osteogenesis Imperfecta, he allows her into his apartment where it is revealed he is recreating a Renoir painting. As he continues to paint for the next few weeks, he watches as the young woman manipulates the people around her at the cost of ignoring her own loneliness. Now fast friends, Raymond and Amélie meet often as he finishes his painting. With a gentle nudge in the right direction, Ray sends Amélie out into the world to find love.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 broken bones

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