This week, Richard Glatzer, the co-director of “Still Alice,” died. He was only 63 years old. He had been courageously battling ALS since 2011, another debilitating disease that like Alzheimer’s, takes so much from a person and is devastating to watch as a family.
Glatzer saw the connection too, telling NPR that he almost didn’t want to adapt Lisa Genova’s book for the big screen, because it cut too close to the bone.
But it was Glatzer’s personal connection to independence-robbing illness that gave “Still Alice” a greater authenticity. The movie focused just as much or more on what the main character, dealing with early-onset Alzheimer’s, was feeling about her condition as it did about her family’s reaction to her declining mental state. This is the book’s running theme, and preserving that in the film offers a much more impactful experience than making it just another family illness drama.
But what impressed me most about Glatzer’s direction was his determination. Glatzer used a text-to-speech app on his iPad with one finger to communicate during the film’s shooting.
The next time I make excuses about not focusing upon my personal writing, I’m going to think of the fearless determination that those with devastating illnesses demonstrate, as they strive to leave their mark on the world or accomplish a personal goal before they depart.