The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

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From Miramax Films acclaimed director Julian Schnabel and the screenwriter of THE PIANIST comes a remarkable and inspiring true story about the awesome power of imagination. Experience the triumphant tale of renowned editor Jean-Dominique Bauby a man whose love of life and soaring vision shaped his will to achieve a life without boundaries. You'll soon discover why David Benby of "The New Yorker" calls THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY "nothing less than the rebirth of the cinema."System Requirements:Running Time: 112 minutes Language: English / Spanish / French Subtitles: English / French / SpanishFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: DRAMA/TRUE STORY Rating: PG-13 UPC: 786936750119 Manufacturer No: 5596703

The seemingly claustrophobic story of a man imprisoned in his paralyzed body becomes a dazzling and expansive movie about love, imagination, and the will to live. After a stroke, Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric, Kings and Queen) can only move his left eye--and through that eye he learns to communicate, one letter at a time. With the help of his speech therapist (Marie-Josee Croze, Munich) and a stenographer (Anne Consigny, Anna M.), Bauby writes the stunning memoir The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. But such a plot summary makes the movie sound like lofty, self-important medicine--far from it. Director Julian Schnabel (Basquiat, Before Night Falls), working from an elegant screenplay by Ronald Harwood (The Pianist) and with an oustanding cast (which also includes Frantic's Emmanuelle Seigner as Bauby's neglected wife), has created a movie as engrossing and hypnotic as a thriller, a movie that wrestles with mortality yet has stubborn streaks of dark humor and eroticism, that portrays a man who overcomes unimaginable obstacles but refuses to paint him as a saint. Schnabel was once dismissed as a pompous and overblown painter, but he's crafted an intimate visual poem, a humble sonata about life at its most fragile. --Bret Fetzer

Customer Reviews:

  • Just could not get into it
    It was an interesting premise, but I just could not warm to the character.

    I think part of it was that in the early part of the film, we did not see enough of his past life to really have a sense of all that he has lost.

    Maybe the suggestion was that he was always 'locked in' but it took too long to make it.

    Although it might sound strange to say, we did not see things enough from his point of view and emotions. I mean, we have a camera lens supposed to be his one good eye, and his sarcastic comments, but there is no real stream of consciousness or even much emotion.

    I tried it on the basis of a friend's recommendation but it was too weighty even for me, who normally loves foreign films. ...more info
  • Life Must Go On
    An enthralling story of one man's success to overcome his infirmities. The story line will bring forth the viewer's sympathy, the viewer's support for the man, and the viewer's satisfaction with desilution of the story. You may not sympathize entirely with the man because he is an accurate portrayal of a person who originally cares only for humself; but, he does improve with love....more info
  • Oscar Contender Alert - Remarkably Powerful Film
    Generally, films containing series of disassociative images, tons of POV shots and dream sequences are immediate turn-offs for me. I like my films to have stories and I like those stories to be linear. For the most part.

    So, it is more than a little surprising that I liked Julian Schnabel's new film "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" based on the life of Elle magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby's life. In fact, I didn't just like it, I loved it. It is a great, moving, well-made film.

    Jean-Do (Mathieu Almaric) wakes up to find himself in a hospital room in a resort on the coast of France. He quickly learns he is paralyzed from head to toe, cannot speak, and can only blink one eye. As the doctors and their staff visit and do their tests, he learns the prognosis is not good, but they go ahead with more tests and try to help him learn how to adjust to the new life, to rehabilitate him. His estranged wife Henriette (Marie-Josee Croze) visits and can barely look at her husband. One of the physical therapists, Claude (Anne Consigny) is brought on to try to help him learn how to communicate again. She has developed a system; she holds up a card listing all of the letters of the alphabet in the order they are most commonly used. She begins to rapidly go through them. When he hears a letter he wants to use, he blinks. As the words begin to form, she suggests a word. If it is the correct word, she blinks. Jean-Do contacts his publisher, with the help of Claude, and arranges for a transcriber to help him write a book about his experiences. Celine (Emmanuelle Seigner, "The Ninth Gate") arrives and to help him write and cope with his life. Writing the book helps him to remember back to key moments in his life, including interactions with his father, Papinou (Max Von Sydow).

    "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is really a fairly remarkable film. Schnabel uses all of those elements I mentioned previously, the ones I hate, to evoke what Jean-Do is going through. The film opens with a series of flashes and brief glimpses of objects. We hear Jean-Do narrating and feel his confusion as he tries to figure out where he is. Weak, he can barely keep his eyes open. He quickly realizes a series of doctors are fawning over him, trying to figure out what has happened to him. Schnabel uses a series of quick shots, overexposures, brief images and more to give us a feeling of what is going on in Jean-Do's head. Naturally, he is confused and disoriented and we get a real feeling for that.

    This actually goes on for a while, longer than I would've believed possible in order to maintain any sort of narrative. But because we are inside the patients head for so long, we get a real feel for what he is experiencing. As we listen to his narrative, which are essentially his thoughts, and see what he is seeing, in brief glimpses, and learn what he learns, Schnabel and actor Mathieu Almaric paint a remarkably vivid portrait of this man who can only move one eye.

    Many actors have portrayed paraplegics in the past, and been richly rewarded for their work with Oscars. Almaric's performance blows them out of the water. For the first twenty or so minutes, we don't even see the actor, but we get a feeling for his character, for his frustration, for his desperation. We are listening to his thoughts and this gives us a great picture of what he is feeling. When we do finally see Jean-Do, we already have a feeling of what this character will be like.

    In a film like this, there are usually glimpses into the characters life before the sickness hits, generally told through flashbacks. In "Diving Bell", there are surprisingly few flashbacks to his life before the sickness. These aren't really needed because the actor gives us glimpses of this previous life through his performance. When we do see a glimpse of this life, it is necessary, to help establish a character we haven't met yet, or to set up an event later in the film. One such moment happens when Jean-Do remembers a time when he visited his father, Papinou (Von Sydow) in his Paris apartment. Papinou, an elderly man, is confined to second floor apartment because he can't get up and down the stairs. Jean-Do visits him and gives him a shave. It is a touching moment, filled with emotion because they clearly love each other very much.

    The process of writing the book comes to fill the majority of the second act of the film. It is a laborious process, but as jean-Do and Celine get the hang of working with each other, they become more productive. Yet, Jean-Do can't help but comment about how slow the process is, the pains they go through getting accustomed to one another, and more. As Celine gets to know the former magazine editor better, she begins to sense what he is trying to say after he picks up a few letters. In fact, everyone close to him does the same thing. These moments are very helpful to the viewer because they help to show he can communicate and it would become overly tedious if we had to sit and watch him.

    All of these moments point to one thing; a filmmaker who knows how to compose the type of portrait he wants to paint for the audience. He doesn't want us to observe Jean-Do and look at the paraplegic and moan about how tragic his life is. He wants us to experience the life and the pain of this life through the subject's eyes. It is a remarkably different type of film portrayal than we usually see and it is extremely effective. Rather than remark about how wonderful Robert DeNiro is or how great Daniel Day-Lewis is (and they both were, in their own rights), Schnabel wants us to see every facet of this man's life. But more importantly, he wants us to see how he deals with all of the problems of being completely immobile. Think about it. A French man who is barely middle aged, living a life many of us would dream about, suddenly wakes up to find he can only move one eye and can't communicate with anyone. Confined to a bed and a wheel chair, he must find new ways to converse with his family and friends and the world. So, Claude is a bit of a godsend, when she arrives and announces she has come up with her new communication system.

    But the remarkable thing about "Diving Bell" and Almaric's performance is that this is not the only way he manages to communicate. Amazingly, given the actor is portraying someone who can move only a single part of their body, Almaric makes his character very emotional. With a puffy, permanently pouting lip, an effect of the stroke, Alamric merely looks forward and manages to convey a lot of what Jean-Do is feeling. Because the film so quickly, and effectively, establishes the problems Jean-Do has, we carry this feeling throughout the film, as we watch him convey his emotions with merely a blink of the eye. But as the story progresses, he gets more emotional when he realizes his situation will have more lasting effects and tears swell in his eye.

    "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is a remarkably powerful and moving portrait of a man who suffers a fate more horrible than most of us can imagine.

    ...more info
  • A brilliant, moving film
    THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY is one of the move moving films that I have seen in some time. The film tells the true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby's devastating stroke, which left his mental faculties completely unimpaired but left him physically unable to move apart from blinking his left eye. The part of Bauby, or Jean-Do as he is called, was originally going to be played by Johnny Depp (he had to pull out because of conflicts with the PIRATES films), but as fine as he is as an actor it is hard to imagine that he would have been finer than Mathieu Amalric. Though there are many flashback scenes where Amalric is able to use his entire body, most often he is able to do nothing but blink his eye. Lines from T. S. Eliot kept running through my mind as I watched Amalric bring his character to life -- "Paralyzed force, gesture without motion." Yet Amalric is able to bring a surprising amount of expressiveness to his role, partly aided by glasses that seem to magnify his right eye, the only part of his body that he is able to move.

    I have not read the book upon which the movie is based, a novel that was painstakingly dictated by Jean-Do as his aide would read out the alphabet and he would blink when she would reach the correct letter. By any standard of human achievement, the writing of the book has to stand as one of the most remarkable accomplishments in our culture. One can hardly imagine managing desiring to stay alive under such conditions, let alone write a book.

    The use of the camera is in the film is remarkable. For quite a while at the beginning all camera work is from the first person, seeing pretty much what Jean-Do would have seen. Once that first person perspective is broken it moves back and forth from that perspective to that of a disembodied outside observer. Especially in moving from the flashback scenes to those of Jean-Do as a paralytic, the shifting in viewpoints reinforces the sense of his entrapment in his own body.

    The film further establishes Julian Schnabel as one of the finest filmmakers active today. His resume is tiny, but all three of his feature films make for riveting viewing. At the rate at which he works (his main career has been as a painter based out of New York), he make only get around to making 2 or 3 more films, but I'll be anxious to see anything and everything he makes....more info
  • one letter per blink
    Jean-Dominique Bauby had it made, or so he thought. At age 43 he was the editor of Elle magazine, cynical, and a stranger to failure. Then he had a massive stroke that left him in a coma for three weeks. When he awoke he suffered from a rare neurological disorder called "locked in syndrome." He could hear a little and his brain worked fine, but he was totally paralyzed and couldn't speak. But he could blink with his left eye. This remarkable film about his incredible story tells how Bauby eventually dictated the book The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, letter by letter, to his amanuensis. A speech therapist devised a chart with the letters of the alphabet arranged by frequency of use, and as she spoke the letters Bauby would blink for the letter he wanted. Though locked in the heavy "diving bell" of his useless body, Bauby's imagination could still fly as playfully as a butterfly. For most of the film viewers have the perspective of Bauby--awkward camera angles, people only partially in his limited field of vision or too close, blurry images that fade in and out, and wanting to say what was precisely on his brain but could not utter. Only forty-five minutes into the film do we actually see Bauby himself. Family and critics have complained about inconsistencies between the film, the book, and Bauby's real life, but this is nevertheless a phenomenal film that earned four Academy Award nominations. Bauby died in 1997 just days after the publication of his book. In French with English subtitles. ...more info
  • The best foreign film of the year!
    This is the story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, a former editor of Elle magazine, who suffered a rare stroke that paralyzed him from head to toe. Most of the story is told from his point of view. We see what he sees as he sees it. His sight is limited to the use of his right eye. He begins speech therapy, eventually, and learns how to communicate with others through the use of his eye - yes, it sounds odd, you just have to see the way in which he does this. He writes an autobiography, and we are given brief glimpses into his past life. This was an amazing man, and the film definitely makes you want to read the book once it has ended. I love the technical aspects of this film, and the different ways in which it tells this story. This could have been a conventional movie of the week type deal, but it goes beyond that and, in doing so, becomes a work of art. The sequences in which Bauby delves into his imagination to escape the harsh realities of his life are nothing short of amazing.

    All in all, this film is amazing and features some excellent performances and a great soundtrack. I highly recommend it!...more info
  • A reminder of life unlived...
    I love this movie! It was well casted and directed. I loved the way the director made the movie from the patient's perspective. My father also suffered a massive stroke. He is paralyzed on one side of his body. He sits on a wheelchair all day. His body may not have the movement, but his mind is more clear than any of us. When he tells a joke, he knows exactly what he is saying...only the words come out muffled and we don't understand what he is saying. We laugh because he expects us to. All his life, he hates to depend on people...and now, his very basic needs have to depend on people around him...especially my mother, his main caretaker. This movie did a wonderful job of portraying the frustration of the stroke victim. I walked away with more appreciation for simple things in life. Thank you, Jean-Dominique Bauby, for writing the book and thank you, Julian Schnabel, for making it come alive. I'll share this movie with my parents....more info
  • Excellent film with great direction and perspective
    I had already read the book when I came into the movie. Warning - there ARE subtitles, and it can be VERY blunt at times. It's very interesting because the book takes you through his life and his story through his own eyes only. The movie gives you a perspective that Jean-Do never had...what others saw on the outside. It's very touching and it's hard not to finish watching the movie without tears in your eyes. I recommend reading the book first, then watching the film....more info
  • The beauties of life...written at a few words per minute
    "Locked-in Syndrome", a fate worse than death afflicts Jean-Dominique Bauby in this true story of the final chapter of the remarkable life of the Elle editor and famous Parisian. With a healthy mind and a useless body, Bauby experiences the horror of only being able to communicate with the outside world by closing one functioning eyelid. Adding to his torturous existence is that Bauby's mind was meant to be shared with the world. As an author, editor and shining member of the intellectual elite, Bauby dazzled those who came in contact with him. When his body died, his great thoughts did not go away. He could not turn off his creativity, his dreams, his desires or his memories...he just had no way to share them.

    The first half of "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" details the opening months of that living hell. One could not think of a worse existence than being in a hospital room with a TV turned to an off-air station during the overnight hours when it blares an alarm. With no way of changing the channel or asking for help, he suffers for what must have seemed like an eternity. His days are filled hating the sights of endless doctors, specialists and therapists, all motivated to help their "famous patient", hope not shared by Bauby. All he gains from these visits is an occasional cheap thrill as he's able to ogle one of the many young, Elle reading specialists who dote over him like a superstar.

    Nearly all of these scenes are filmed from the POV of Bauby, with his internal thoughts providing sardonic commentary to the action in the hospital room. This provides an uncomfortable presentation, as the audience experiences the realities of his life and thoughts. Once a solution to his communication problem is presented and a system is developed where his eyelid movements spell out his words and thoughts, he's able to slowly (V e r y S l o w l y) communicate with the world again. What begins as a devastating declaration to his therapist of "I W a n t D e a t h" eventually grows into his memoirs. The book titled "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", penned at one blink at a time becomes his last gift to the world, a collection of his dreams, his regrets, and his loves.

    Bauby's book is the work of a dying man dreaming about living again. Not angry or jealous, he wants one last chance to speak about the beauties of life, from the love of a great woman to dinner at Paris' finest restaurant. Scenes of his book are dramatized in the film and come across as strange Charlie Kaufman-like creations where images from his healthy life blend with his hospital setting and are often colored by stories from history or fairy tales. Dramatized on screen, the film gives the audience a glimpse into the most important organ of the human body, one that goes on dreaming, loving and hurting long after the rest of the body has given up on life.
    ...more info
  • Finding Eloquence Against Foreboding Odds in a Mesmerizing, Resonant Film
    Imagine being left immobilized after a massive stroke, and having the ability to move only your left eye. Such was the case of 43-year-old French Elle magazine editor-in-chief Jean-Dominique Bauby in December 1995 when he awakened from a twenty-day coma to find himself mentally active but physically paralyzed. To think he would have the wherewithal to write a poignant and elegant memoir through the blink of his eye is astounding, but he did it and the publication date of his book was a mere two days before his death in 1997. It takes someone with painter/filmmaker Julian Schnabel's (Before Night Falls) visual flair to bring such a fragile but empowering story to cinematic life, and screenwriter Ronald Harwood (The Pianist) has done a compelling job translating Bauby's book into a highly charged story that complements Schnabel's bold filmmaking choices.

    The 2007 film begins with Bauby, known as Jean-Do to his friends, slipping in and out of consciousness, slowly realizing he has his faculties but cannot communicate with is doctors. The first half-hour shows only Bauby's viewpoint with his thoughts articulated through an interior monologue shared with the viewer. It's an intentionally constricted technique that Schnabel uses effectively to convey Bauby's helpless state. Four women play pivotal roles in his road toward at least partial recovery - speech therapist Henriette, who teaches him the blinking technique that enables him to communicate; physiotherapist Marie who demonstrates a series of tongue exercises that sets Bauby off on some hilariously profane thoughts; his estranged partner C®¶line who bore and raised his three children and is now willing to take on the role of caretaker; and finally Claude, the editor who has come to take dictation for the book Bauby promised to his publisher before his stroke. These encounters are intertwined with fantasy sequences and flashbacks where we see the fully functional Bauby. There are an excellent couple of scenes between Bauby and his curmudgeonly father that shows just how much son takes after father and how vibrant and flawed Bauby was before his paralysis.

    The acting is outstanding beginning with Mathieu Amalric (the informant Louis in Steven Spielberg's Munich) as Bauby. In a powerful, unsentimental performance that recalls the exalted levels achieved by Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot and Javier Bardem in The Sea Inside, the French actor conveys the fertile brain at work and the vibrant man that has been forcibly left behind. Amalric also shows how human-sized his character is, a philanderer who still manages to engender the devotion of those closest to him. The actresses playing the women - Marie-Jos®¶e Croze, Olatz Lopez Garmendia (Schnabel's real-life wife), Emmanuelle Seigner, and Anne Consigny -are all strong if a bit interchangeable. The legendary Max Von Sydow steals his brief scenes as Bauby's homebound father. There is masterful work by Spielberg's longtime cinematographer Janusz Kami?ski (his latest work is Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) seamlessly alternating between the reality and fantasy aspects of the narrative.

    It is a remarkable film that on the surface, appears to focus on the traumatic effects of sensory deprivation, but evolves into a triumph of an eloquent soul yearning to share life's often harsh lessons with the world. Four bonus features are included in the 2008 DVD. The first is a standard, thirteen-minute making-of featurette, "Submerged: The Making of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" featuring the principal cast and crew as they share their thoughts on the production under Schnabel's direction. The second is the shorter "A Cinematic Vision", which describes what was done to convey Bauby's first-person point of view during the first part of the film. There is also a twenty-minute Charlie Rose interview with Schnabel from 2007, which turns out to be a lot more informative than the director's audio commentary on the film. Schnabel is disappointingly reticent with his observations, and it would have been good to have someone like Amalric or Harwood available to prompt greater insights. Regardless, it's a fine package for such an accomplished film. By the way, the diving bell of the title is refers to Bauby's horrendous physical limitations, and the butterfly represents his fertile imagination....more info
  • A chilling reminder of our frailty
    Le Scaphandre et le papillon is based on the very novel it's about. The locked-down Jean Dominique Bauby is paralyzed everywhere except for one eye. Right away you get locked into Bauby's head with a unique lense that, without panning, drifts into and away from objects and faces(faces that were like giants on the big screen, small-ant-syndrome) and makes ghosts of everyones face when he bleeds tears. To Jean, the only thing alive to him is his vivid imagination, memory, and wakeness. You glimpse his artistic voyeurisms as open vaults. Deep under-water in a Diving Bell, alone, and sometimes with another. A metamorphosing Butterfly. Unlike Jean Dominique you can venture away from his tortured existance while keeping that reality going. You slip away into his past, in recollections, and then in flashbacks as seen fit by English speaking Director Julian Schnabel. An artistic movie that makes you think about your own mortality....more info
  • Never received it
    I had forgotten about this order. I never received it.

    Lourdes...more info
  • Excellent - Must See
    This one of the best movies I have ever seen, and definatly the best movie to come out in years and years. The extreme emotional depths this film digs to could only be match by such greats as Bergman and other bygone movie geniuses. This movie is far beyond so much of the filmography of today, and anybody who is into art films, human emotional or tradgedy should not miss out on this masterpiece ! ...more info
  • One word - WOW!
    Before I knew it, I was already an hour into the movie when I glanced to see how much time had elapsed. This is one movie that deserves all the cliches that are so overused today: Riveting, powerful, moving. I'm not into current movies, but I'm glad I made an exception here because it restores my faith in the filmmaking industry that original movies (or, in this case, adaptations from books) can not only be made, but in a way that keeps you watching and has the experience stay with you.

    Shooting the movie from the perspective of the late Jean-Dominique Bauby was beyond brilliant. It wasn't done in a contrived way, but, rather, in a way that you felt you were right there with Bauby in a body that, indeed, became a prison.

    Other reviewers on this page have covered just about everything regarding the film, but I will put my hat in the ring and say this is one movie that deserves putting aside almost two hours to watch. Beyond excellent job on the part of everyone associated with this film! - Donna Di Giacomo...more info
  • Beautiful Inner Visions
    Life is filled with contingencies. We worry about them; they creep up on us; they challenge us and shape us. How people adapt to tragedy, however, can be a source of fascination and inspiration. One of the best things a film can do is to get us into others' shoes and show how their inner journey unfolds for them.

    Such is the case of `The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,' based on the autobiographical account of Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Almaric), the editor for Frances' prestigious 'Elle' magazine. His account is one of adaptation. From a glamorous and prosperous playboy with a family, including, Ce'line (Emmannelle Se'igner) his long-suffering partner and mother of his three children, this jet-setter seemed to have everything going for him.

    From the beginning of Julian Schnabel's directorial masterpiece we find our protagonist awakening in fits and blurs, discovering a brightly lit hospital room where he is gazed upon by doctors, nurses, and other personnel. We can tell he is disoriented, but we know his thoughts as they are narrated during the opening scenes. We quickly discover that he cannot speak, for he learns that his thoughts are not being received by anyone, yet he can hear what they're saying. Soon we have a serious meeting with a doctor who informs him that he has had a stroke and is paralyzed. The repercussions come quickly as he becomes dependent on people who bathe him and his choices seemingly diminish. We feel his discomfort as a fly sits upon his nose with no self-recourse and an attendant comes into his room to turn off a thoroughly absorbing game of soccer on TV. More unsettling is an early scene where fully conscious he watches a specialist sew stitches closing his right eye.

    Soon Ce'line comes to visit, and he daily gets a therapist, Henrietta (Marie Jose' Croze) who teaches him to communicate, blinking once for "oui" and twice for "non" with his good left eye. For anyone this new life would be difficult, but for someone so independent in his chic life, it must have been excruciating. Using the blinking method, Bauby can choose the letters he wishes to convey as Henrietta dictates them close to his bed. Asking him what he wants, he chooses to let her spell out "D-E-A-T-H". Volumes of emotion are written on these wonderful actresses' faces as they convey their discomfort with Jean-Dominique. His lover is ambivalent. Certainly sympathetic about her lover's new condition, she also ponders the scars of disinterest that have marred her own life.

    But like many tragedies, adjustment makes life better. Unable to have the mobility, Jean-Dominique learns to rely more on memories and imagination as his chief resources to make life meaningful and enriching. We see some truly poignant moments with his father (here played in a welcome performance by Max Von Sydow), whom he comforts by shaving. We also see flashbacks to times with his own family and times with his lover, including some ironic scenes when he went with her to Lourdes when he wasn`t seeking miracles in his own life.

    Watching this film, I was reminded in a casual way of Fellini's `8 ?' where the flight of imagination is captured so concretely. His visions are captured beautifully by Schnabel and art director, Janusz Kaminski, who give us a visual feast of Bauby's memories and imagination. After 112 minutes I felt I had gone on the same journey, able to capture and understand a man whose life was a smorgasbord of sensual endeavors cut short by an inconvenient reality that had him rely on his inner resources to find meaning and solace when he was used to gathering it himself from the physical world. From being submerged and confined (as a diving bell), his imagination takes beauty and flight (the butterfly). In the end, 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' is a beautiful true story told from a convincing point-of-view. ...more info
  • very accurate discription of a stroke
    I had a very bad stroke three years ago. I even had surgery. I loved this move. The only differance betweem me amd him was modern medicine. It brought back many memories. Very accurate. Very inspirational. I still go to therapy and I still have a limited range of motion. I can now touch my ear with the effected hand/arm. It made me realize how much I can do. ...more info
  • touching
    This is a sensitive, sophisticated film about the human condition. Schnabel does not capture only the mind of a middle-aged man "locked-in" into his head, but also the microscosmos of people who raised, loved and took care of him after the incapacitating stroke. These people, and the French rehabilitation system, are very much central to the film as the American spectator watches - sometimes a bit enviously - the care and attention to personal dignity that epitomizes French healthcare.

    Anyway. The film is brilliant. Schnabel creates suspense by masterfully introducing elements into the story (Bauby's comprehension that he is not heard; his face; his family). The real & imagined, dreams & fantasy, memory and real-time are mixed together seamlessly. While the director does not want to shield the spectator from the empathic pain, he also shows a man who - having lost the ability to move everything but his eye muscles, also kept his sense of humor and sarcasm, and his talent for hurting those close to him. The last scene where the wife picks up the telephone call from the mistress for whom Bauby left his family is heartbreaking. The scene where they are suturing his eyelids is profoundly painful.

    The actors are superb, including the women in main supporting roles. Camera: brilliant. In other words, this film is a masterpiece. ...more info
  • Sensitive film, extraordinary story
    Quite a feat to translate such a difficult story into film, and it works. This is a sensitive film of an extraordinary story at once a lesson in life and death, as well as poignant and inspirational - and handled without ever becoming cloying or maudlin. ...more info
  • Too frighteningly real
    Being married to a stroke survivor brought this painfully home. As he also
    has aphasia (difficulty speaking and processing information) I shuddered
    when Bauby returned from his 3 week coma to find his life altered forever,
    and the "normal" way of communicating a thing of history. He (and his able
    assistant, Claude) must be commended for their remarkable achievement. The
    film portrayal was outstanding, and shooting from Bauby's perspective made
    me feel as if I was Bauby, and gave me some idea of what my husband also
    went through in those early days....more info
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
    Jean Do Bauby finds himself a parapheligic and gives a view of his life from his locked in syndrome. He finds all he has left are his memories and his imagination after once being the head editor of Elle magazine. It is sad and its inspiring and make you appreciate all you have in life. The film was great but the book better. Its a short read but well worth the time. ...more info
  • filmmaking at its purest

    Because film is a largely realistic medium, "impressionism" is a style rarely attempted by even the most adventurous of moviemakers. Indeed, Terrance Malick is one of the few directors working today who has found consistent success (artistic if not commercial) in that genre. Now we can add French filmmaker Julian Schnabel to the list for his truly remarkable work in "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," a movie that defies easy categorization and is quite unlike anything we've encountered before.

    The story definitely falls into the "truth is stranger than fiction" category. Jean-Dominique Bauby was a 43-year-old writer and editor-in-chief of Elle Magazine when, in 1995, he suffered a massive stroke that left him completely paralyzed in all but his left eye. Confined to a bed and a wheelchair and unable to speak or move, all Bauby could do was look out on the world around him without any real hope of ever being able to communicate beyond a simple batting of the eyelid in response to a string of "yes or no" questions. However, thanks to the ingenuity of one of his therapists, Bauby eventually found a way - by painstakingly spelling out each word one letter at a time - to not only communicate fully with those around him but to actually dictate an entire best-selling book with the use of his one eye.

    For the first twenty minutes or so, we see the world only as Bauby does, from the severely limited viewpoint of his one good eye, as he wakes up from his coma and begins to slowly realize what has happened to him. As the story progresses, Schnabel gradually allows us to escape Bauby's bodily prison and to see the events from a more objective angle. From that point on, we split our time fairly evenly between these two perspectives.

    "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" could have been a mere "gimmick film" were it not for the tremendously revelatory nature of Bauby's tale. Through voiceover narration, we are able to enter into Bauby`s mind to explore the many thoughts and moods that enlighten or plague him. At first, of course, Bauby is filled with a sense of hopelessness and despair, telling his therapist early on that the one thing he wishes for above all else is death. However, as time goes on, Bauby begins to realize that, while his body may be trapped in a physical prison (a diving bell), his mind is now free to soar as never before into the realm of fantasy, imagination and memory (the butterfly). Forced to remove himself from the petty concerns that so often overtake us in our daily lives, Bauby is now able to contemplate the things that REALLY matter in life, principally, what it means to be a partner to his girlfriend, a father to his children, and a son to his aged father. As such, the movie becomes a celebration of the ability of the human spirit to endure and flourish under even the most trying of circumstances. The impressionism comes as Schnabel follows the course of Bauby's dreams, visions, memories and imaginings as they come pouring out in virtual stream-of-consciousness fashion, always backed up by Bauby's lyrical contemplation on what they mean to him both as an individual and as a part of the collective human race.

    "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is a movie overflowing with imagination and surprise, as when, out of nowhere, Schnabel and screenwriter Ronald Harwood insert a lovely little homage to the opening scene in "The 400 Blows." Conversely, the scene in which Bauby has his right eye sewn shut against his unheeded wishes is quite literally harrowing. Indeed, the movie is often at its most poignant in scenes where Bauby is completely at the mercy of what other people think is best for him, as when an unthinking orderly turns off a soccer match just as Bauby is really getting into it or a well-meaning therapist takes Bauby, an avowed atheist, to visit a Catholic priest. It is at times like these that he is closest to having his identity as an individual subsumed by his illness and the people around him.

    Beyond the brilliant performances by Mathieu Amallic as Bauby, Max von Sydow as his 92-year-old father, and Emmanuelle Seigner as his longtime girlfriend, among others, special recognition must surely go to editor Juliette Welfling and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (Spielberg's preferred cameraman) for the various miracles they have wrought in bringing this tightrope-walking tour-de-force to the screen.

    Heartbreaking but never sentimental, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is that rare film that will haunt you for a long time after it's over and will make you look at life in a whole new way. ...more info
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Movie Review
    About as stunning and emotional as a film can get, Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a poignant story based on the memoirs of Elle France editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered from locked-in syndrome, a form of paralysis that kept him a prisoner inside an almost completely immobile body. Noting that the film is based on real events makes it just that much more powerful and a wondrous examination of storytelling from the singular first-person perspective.

    Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric) has a successful career as the editor of Elle Magazine, has a beautiful family, (although he is not married to the mother of his children) and has an elderly father who is immensely proud. At the age of 43, he is suddenly paralyzed by a stroke that leaves him only able to move his left eye. Unable to speak, but still capable of hearing, his fully functioning mind is trapped in a lifeless body that has become an excruciating keep. With the help of speech therapists and doctors, he is able to communicate by blinking - one blink for yes, two for no. An alphabet system is devised which allows him to choose letters by blinking, while a doctor calls out each letter slowly. Being able to express his thoughts, he eventually painstakingly writes a book with the help of his dictation nurse.

    The first-person perspective that narrates much of the film is ingenious, and accurately demonstrates the horrifyingly moribund situation Bauby is in. Early on, Dr. Cocheton sews up Bobby's right eye in a frightful view that shows stitches penetrating an eyelid as if the camera were the eyeball. Later, all of the doctors, family members and activities Jean-Do sees are from the same perspective, which puts the viewer inside the mind of the suffering man. Time allows him to accept his situation, and he miraculously makes the best of it. "I survived by clinging to what makes me human", explains a friend, who earlier had taken Bauby's seat on a plane that was hijacked, resulting in a hostage situation that lasted for four years. Guilt plagues Bauby from that incident, and now he is in a situation equally as terrifying.

    Bauby's mind and memory are not paralyzed, and so in many a tearjerker moments he uses his imagination to transport himself to various places and with various people to do things he's now unable to do. Tired of TV dinners, he imagines himself feasting at the Le Duc restaurant, eating a grand meal with the beautiful nurse. He also imagines his curse to have been a dream, and he rises from his wheelchair to dance down the halls of the hospital as it might have been as a luxurious Victorian mansion years ago. Strapped to an upright gurney like Hannibal Lector, Bauby learns to make do with what he has, and realizes that his imagination is the only cure for his imprisoned mind.

    His father Papinou (Max Von Sydow) has great difficulty accepting his son's situation, as he is a feeble 92 year old man; he feels just as confined in his apartment, but is unable to adequately communicate with his son. Jean-Do's mistress Ines can't bear to see him, and he barely wants to see his children, afraid of what they might think. The imagery is unbelievably hard-hitting, and we see such gorgeous sights as he metamorphoses them with his imagination. Slow motion, blurred images, and other visual effects keep all of the imagery almost surreal, and a lovely score by Paul Cantelon accompanies every breathtaking moment. Director Julian Schnabel struck gold when he decided to adapt The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. His direction is superb, but the emotional story is so affective and awe-inspiring that little else is necessary to showcase a film of such rare beauty.

    - Mike Massie
    ...more info
  • I haven't seen all of 2007's movies yet, but I can't imagine any of them beating this one.
    The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel, 2007)

    I have been convinced for the past seven years that Julian Schnabel, despite having (at the point) released only two films, is the best director currently working in America. Recently, we have seen a long-awaited third release, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; while not quite as mind-shatteringly perfect as Before Night Falls, it does nothing to change my opinion of Schnabel's bottomless talent-- not necessarily because of what this film is, but because of what it is not.

    Based on Jean-Domonique Bauby's memoir of the same name, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly could, in the hands of a lesser director (and by "lesser" here I'm talking about the rest of the, say, top five percent of directors currently working in America), have been turned into a sappy, unwatchable mess suitable only for late-night screenings on the Lifetime Movie Network. After all, the subject matter is just this side of unfilmable-- it's a narrative by a man who suffered (Bauby died in 1997, ten days after the release of his book) from locked-in syndrome, a form of almost complete paralysis (Bauby dictated the book using only his left eyelid; the film goes into the mechanics of how this was done). In other words, our main character (played here by Mathieu Amalric) is, from the standpoint of someone trying to film the book, pretty much a lump, and the book is almost completely concerned with his thoughts and feelings. How do you film that? If you shift the perspective to those around him, you compromise the source material and open the way to Lifetime Movie-dom. But filming a guy lying in a bed for two hours? You're not going to have much of an audience.

    All these thoughts were swirling around in my head as I sat down to watch this movie. Dim the lights, chill the ham, roll film. It took me about thirty seconds to realize what Schnabel was up to, and the next half-hour to fully internalize it. My god, the balls this man has. The first half-hour, and most of the rest of the movie, is shot from Bauby's perspective. It's simple, it's obvious, and yet at the same time it's probably the gutsiest move, in a meta sense, I've seen a director make in years. We get some internal monologue (and most of that is for comic relief), but mostly it's just life from the perspective of someone who's really, really cheesed off at the unfairness. (Think The Sea Inside, but with a more, for lack of a better term, barbaric protagonist.)

    Needless to say, given this, the film, while stocked to the gills with fabulous performances from the supporting cast (who include, among others, Emanuelle Seigner and the great Max von Sydow), lives or dies on Amalric's performance. And he pulls it off brilliantly. I can't imagine the temptation he must have been under to overact at various points here, but he keeps it understated and subtle, even when most actors would've seen the character as having the screaming meemies. (There's a scene of minor surgery fifteen or twenty minutes into this film that will have you curled up in the fetal position in your seat gibbering helplessly.)

    Schnabel has finally gotten the Best Direction Oscar he's so richly deserved with his last two films, and that he certainly deserves here; no other movie I've seen in 2007 even comes close. Janusz Kaminski's sere, windswept cinematography has also gotten an Oscar nod, bot does anyone really expect Roger Deakins not to get the statue this year? Still, one can make a case for Kaminski, usually the stable cinematographer for Steven Spielberg; every outdoor shot in this is keyed to Bauby's outlook on life at the time he's in the shot. It's great stuff, very subtle, but lending the movie another level it would not otherwise have. (And the obligatory OH THE SYMBOLISM shots of which Schnabel is so fond are surprisingly easy to wrap your head around, and don't get too overbearing until the end credits; Kaminski did a fantastic job with this movie.)

    While I still haven't seen one of the films from last year everyone and his mother are raving about (There Will Be Blood), I can say that of the films I've seen that were released in 2007, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is far and away the best of them. Just this side of perfect. **** ?
    ...more info
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
    This is an awesome story of a man who, rather than give up on life, manages to write his story in a most poetic manner. I should have been sad about his situation, but instead I clapped my hands at his resolve....more info
  • Looking Out from a Locked-In Mind
    Julian Schnabel, well accepted as one of the important visual artists of our time, continues to impress with his small but elite group of films, proving that paintings and cinema are closely related as a means to reach the psyche. In 'Le Scaphandre et le papillon' ('The Diving Bell and the Butterfly') he has transformed the memoir of Jean-Dominique Bauby (with the sensitive screen adaptation by Ronald Harwood) into an experience for the mind and the heart. It is an extraordinary blend of visual effects, poetry, exquisite acting, and the perseverance of the human mind to communicate with the world when all seeming variations of communication are stripped away.

    Jean-Dominique (Jean-Do) Bauby (Mathieu Amalric) was the editor of the French magazine 'Elle', living with the beautiful C®¶line Desmoulins (Emmanuelle Seigner) and their three children, when during a ride with his son he has a massive stroke that leaves him completely paralyzed (the 'locked-in syndrome'). When he awakens from his coma he is able to hear and to see but he cannot speak or move, except for his eyes. From this point we, the audience, experience the world as through the eyes of Jean-Do, share his frustrations of being unable to speak, and in his ultimately having to communicate through the fine skills of his speech therapist Henriette Durand (Marie-Jos®¶e Croze) by blinking his eye once or twice for yes or no as each letter of the alphabet is spoken - an arduous task for both patient and visitor. He decides he wants to write his memoirs and Claude (Anne Consigny) is assigned to take his 'dictation'. The only faculties Jean-Do retains are his memory and his fantasies, and it is through the acting out of these that we discover the victim's private and secret life as well as his relationships to colleagues and lovers and family. He imagines the hospital where he is confined in the time of Nijinsky (Nicolas Le Riche) and Empress Eug®¶nie (Emma de Caunes) and filters the realities of his life through the interactions with his comrades Laurent (Isaach De Bankol®¶) and others as well as vivid memories of his relationship with his father Papinou Bauby (Max von Sydow). With the patient assistance of the health providers, friends and family he is able to complete his memoir, the story of a man locked in a diving bell longing for the freedom of a butterfly, released form its cocoon. .

    Getting used to the film technique Schnabel uses takes patience, but for those who are willing to accept the pace of the film, rich with fantasy and historical sequences, the impact is not only compelling but breathtaking. This telling of a true story is a fine work from all concerned and for this viewer it is one of the best films of recent years. Grady Harp, May 08 ...more info
  • Interesting, but not that entertaining
    I think I needed more understanding of who he was, what his life was like, before the stroke, and locked in syndrome, to really engage with the film and not just watch it. I normally love intelligent films with engaging narrative but this was so much like 'navel-gazing' by the director, I felt locked out....more info
  • Did not work for me
    While the story this film is based on is amazing, the movie itself was rather lukewarm. One would think a story of such caliber would be incredibly moving and inspiring, but somehow the movie failed to either move or inspire me. It struggled hopelessly to make us feel what the character feels, but for me it simply did not work. I could not relate to anyone in this film. I would still recommend it for people who love drama and French films, because it's by no means a bad movie. It just wasn't my cup of tea....more info
  • Encased
    Julian Schnabel is a fine artist who paints fantastical, brilliant, almost violent works. His films though are another story. "Basquiat," "When Night Falls" and now "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" deal almost exclusively with a man, an artist living within society as a whole but nonetheless living apart from it. Within the context of Schnabel's movie world and by extension his characters, this living apart is natural, is organic to these characters. Their talent, their world vision sets them apart.
    In Schnabel's poetic, sad, urgent "When Night Falls" Javier Bardem plays Cuban writer, Reinaldo Arenas: a man both reviled by society and beloved by his reading public. Bardem is bigger than life, makes his mark upon this film as well upon our psyche and our memory. The same can be said about the terrific Jeffrey Wright in "Basquiat" and now Mathieu Amalric as Jean-Dominique Bauby in Schnabel's new "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly."
    Before his massive stroke, Bauby was the editor of French Elle and Schnabel gives us glimpses of Bauby's glamorous, jet-setting life. There is no doubt that Schnabel feels for Bauby and his condition: a condition which allows Bauby to literally move only one eye lid though Bauby nonetheless manages through a letter recognition system to write his memoir on which this film is based. In several ways though, we get the feeling that Schnabel, through the use of a judicious choice of "before stroke" images, that Schnabel is not always on Bauby's side and that Bauby's current state is a result of his former, hedonistic life style. Editing a glossy woman's magazine does not have the intellectual cache of a brilliant writer or of a brilliant artist and I can't shake the feeling that Schnabel may be more than a bit prejudiced against Bauby here.
    The beginning of "TDBATB" is very difficult to get into: all bleached out images, fluttering butterflies and "talking head," reassuring nurses and serious doctors. It is off-putting to say the least: Schnabel at his most arty and least coherent. Then something happens and we begin to get into the groove of Schnabel's vision and world. Schnabel and his writer Ronald Harwood are skirting a slippery slope here: how do you humanize, how do you make human a person who is only marginally those things? You do it, as Schnabel and Harwood do: you show us that Bauby, though horrifically compromised, has a huge intellect still working at maximum capacity inside that hunk of flesh.
    It is ironic and effective that Schnabel has chosen the most frenetic and active of French actors to play this role: Mathieu good in "Kings and Queen." Amalric does what he can with the post massive stroke portions of the film to convey humanity but it is in the pre-stroke scenes that he really shines: all "French" handsome, charming and intelligent this Bauby.
    "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is a tough nut to crack and many times you are torn between walking out and downright sobbing but at a certain point towards the middle of the film, Schnabel gets you, keeps you and won't let you go. You commit. You submit.
    ...more info
  • Moving exploration of the human spirit
    The true story that inspired this movie is well-known. Jean-Dominque Bauby, the French editor of "Elle" magazine, suffered a massive stroke that left him completely paralyzed with a condition called "Locked-in" syndrome. When he came out of his coma, he had recovered all his mental faculties but was completely paralyzed with the exception of his ability to blink his left eyelid.
    His therapist developed a method for him to communicate through blinking and he was able to dictate an entire book in this manner.
    I thought this movie might be depressing but it really was not. I found it profoundly uplifting. It took Bauby 200,000 blinks to dictate the book. Each word took two minutes. From the excerpts we hear through Bauby's voice-over, it is extremely beautiful. What a heroic act -- to overcome one's self-pity and face reality in such challenging circumstances.
    The movie starts as if the viewer is looking through Bauby's eyes, though it later widens out, and it returns to that at the end. The acting and photography are excellent. The director decided to film the movie in the same hospital where Bauby had been treated so we see the scene he describes from the balcony where they wheel him from time to time.
    Mathieu Amalric as Bauby is extraordinary. In the DVD extra material (which I rarely watch but in this case is interesting) he describes how difficult it was to hold himself completely still when he is not in fact paralysed. There are also nice performances from Anne Consigny as the therapist and Emmanuelle Seigner as Bauby's ex-partner and the mother of his three children. Max von Sydow gives a tremendous performance as Bauby's father.
    This movie explores what it means to be human and how resilient the human spirit can be. I strongly recommend it.
    ...more info
  • A medical dilema of Great Proportion
    Julian Schnabel has made an important film. His subject matter of "Locked In Syndrome" is accurate, and he uniquely emphasizes the profound reality of this very devistating neurological tragedy. He captures the empathy of the therapists and speech pathologists with uncanny realism, yet the independent nuances of the therapists do not distract one from the emotional experince of his film. Even the scenery is a beautiful contrast to the hospital setting in which much of the DVD takes place. In 'Le Scaphandre et le papillon' ('The Diving Bell and the Butterfly') he has portrayed the story of Jean-Dominique Bauby with a sensitivity that is endearing to the viewer, yet it remains emotionally overwhelming to the end. There is an old episode of "The Twilight Zone" by Rod Serling in which a similar situation arises with the same brain stem area involved only in that 1950's black and white episode it was due to brain trauma rather than a stroke. There are few portrayals of this condition, and as a neurologist, I am acutely aware of the very detailed medical research that must have gone into the production of this film. It is now on DVD and should be in ones collection. Dale B. Haufrect, M.D., M.A. Medical Director Med DataLink, LLC

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  • Locked-In But Not Locked-Away
    A truly phenomenal piece of film-making and storytelling, THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY is poignant, frightening, and not-just-a-tad funny.

    Based on the real-life story of Elle Magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby (i.e., Jean-Do) who suffered a massive stroke leaving him only able to communicate via eye blinks, the story is so human, so entertaining, and so well presented through the use of first-person experience from Jean-Do's perspective that it won over audiences worldwide. Winning the Best Foreign Language film category in multiple film festivals, and being nominated for four Oscars (2007), this little French film strives and succeeds.

    Mathieu Amalric stars as Jean-Do, the poor guy who will eventually have what is termed as "locked-in syndrome," a stroke that allows him only the power to move his left eye and eyelid. Waking up from the stroke after nearly a month in a coma, Jean-Do's realization of his condition is frightening, funny, and even a bit exhilarating. The fright comes from the fact that he can do nothing for himself, including shriek in horror as they stitch close his right eye (all of this is viewed via Jean's perspective; cloudy, muddled, and freakish). The funny portions come from his sexual awareness of those around him. The pretty nurses. The beautiful Henriette who specializes in speech therapy. And the women who used to worship him but now are left with a shell of what he once was. The exhilaration comes from what's left of Jean's imagination as he battles his locked-in syndrome (The Diving Bell) by allowing his imagination to wander (The Butterfly).

    As Jean-Do learns to use his left eye to communicate, he also learns he probably doesn't have a lot of quality time left to him, so he starts "dictating" his memoirs. His death soon after it was published proves that he knew the exact right time to get this done.

    But back to the film itself...

    The filming technique of using the camera to show what Jean-Do hears, sees, and feels is so well played that it might make some viewers claustrophobic. I know I felt a little uncomfortable. And it is this technique that helps carry the movie to greater heights than it would have if filmed from someone else's perspective.

    The special features on the DVD are interesting and I HAVE TO comment on the appearance of director Julian Schnabel in this section. Although not relevant to the film itself, I nearly cracked-up laughing when I saw Mr. Schnabel; the guy looks like a troll! Sorry. I just had to mention that, as it really confounded me. Here's a guy with a great vision and probably not-a-little money in his pocket running around in tattered sweats and a grotesque looking hat. Bizarre!

    Getting back on-topic...

    This is something you'll need to see if you're into great filming and new techniques. It's not the greatest film, but you'll enjoy how it's woven together. And watch for veteran actor Max von Sydow (The Seventh Seal) as Jean-Do's forgetful father in an unforgettable series of scenes. ...more info
  • Beautiful Life Affirming Flick
    One thing that can be said about Julian Schnabel's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," is that it is a beautifully rendered view with the depths aplomb of human experience leaving the viewer with hope. It's an important flick, one I think the majority should experiece. My opinion here, who's else?

    If you try to explain this flick to friends, on the surface, it may be a difficult sell. Hey dude, watch this here flick. It's about another dude who is the magazine editor big shot and he like has a stroke. He comes outta his coma and like can't move much, just his eyes. So hot ladies frequent his room and help him like write this book One of the ladies is in love with the blinkin' guy. So well, he dies. You really gotta watch this dude! C what I mean?

    Jean-Dominique Bauby (played deftly by Mathieu Amalric), the French Elle editor lived an amazing life, but one that had greatest impact while he was in a hospital on the coast of France and had the time to pour his heart out in writing. Amalric's performance is nothing short of spell-binding as he does more with the expression behind one eye and a half-downturned lip than others do with their whole face and whole body. Watch the "making of" extra on the DVD to hear all about how Amalric approached the role.

    Max Von Sydow appears here as Bauby's father and turns in, as would be expected, a uniquely powerful performance. The film is probably a bunch of things to different people but the strength of it for me lay in the development of the relationship between Bauby and his father. "Today is Father's Day. Until my stroke, we had felt no need to fit this made-up holiday into our emotional calendar. But today we spend the whole of the symbolic day together, affirming that even a rough sketch, a shadow, a tiny fragment of a dad is still a dad," says Bauby and accurately reflects the progression and the need for the Father-Son relationship here. Bauby, the parapeligic and already caring son, parallels his Father's experience as an ailing man who can't get around so well anymore. The two need each other like they haven't before previously in their lives. The development and progression of the relationship is life-affirming, I beleive.

    This flick will make you wanna watch it or better yet buy the DVD as a gift for dear 'ole Dad this Father's Day. Though Bauby teaches us there may still be time left in this life to live out your dreams, he also teaches us that you better carpe diem-style; because the the way you are, in your present condition, is never a given...tomorrow. Not for one single instant. Live those dreams. Watch this movie. --mmw
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  • One of my favorites of 2007 or any year
    When I initially heard of this film's premise, I have to admit I balked at it a little bit. The idea behind it seemed like typical Hollywood biopic where it wants to do something so heavyhanded and even manipulative so that way audiences can and will walk out of theatres in tears. But giving the film a chance, I found it to be surprisingly effective and even inspiring and yet the lack of press and attention the film got just seems a bit unfair but at least critics and awards came their way and even if you probably never heard of it, it's still one of last year's better pictures.

    Jean-Dominique Bauby was a fashion editor for Elle magazine who was quite the womanizer and had numerous affairs. But suffering a stroke and awakening 3 weeks later, he finds that he has a rare condition called "locked-in syndrome": completely aware and conscious of his surroundings but basically paralyzed head to toe save his left eye. With the help of his ex Celine, his speech therapist Henriette and Claude, another magazine employee, Jean-Do writes a book using a unique speech system and learning how to escape into his mind and break through his cell, as he calls it.

    Why the film wasn't nominated for Best Picture along with David Fincher's "Zodiac" is kind of criminal. These 2 films easily beat Juno and Atonement and I'd even go as far to say that they both beat winner No Country for Old Men. While it's not exactly everyone's style, the film is quite engrossing and remarkably restrained in telling the story and it never feels like the film is repeatedly telling you how you should be inspired and the film lets the audience decide. Using a unique technique of having entire scenes devoted to Bauby's point of view, we see just how helpless he is and the disconnect between what he's thinking and what his body's doing. In one scene, he outright laughs at a rude comment by a phone installer only to cut back to his permanently fixed face. It's a nice way at showing just how the condition would feel like since as they say, the condition is extremely rare.

    Acting-wise it's quite exceptional across the board. Mathieu Amalric is particularly noteworthy as Bauby and we also have Max Von Sydow who really only has 2 scenes but really adds a lot to the film. Even though faces and names can sometimes be confusing, the 3 main actress add a whole lot to the film, not only emotionally but let's face it, they're not hard on the eyes. One thing I noticed and it's super minor and most wouldn't even care but the subtitles for the film are according to the English translation so when a character confirms that he wants to say a "I", the actress says "J" as in "je" which means I in English so it's kind of a weird disconnect but most wouldn't notice anyway.

    It wasn't as well-known or wide-reaching as the other big films but I'd recommend Diving Bell and the Butterfly to anyone that wants to see solid filmmaking....more info
  • Homage to Jean-Dominique Bauby
    An engaging and penetrating adaptation of Jean-Dominique Bauby's brilliant memoir of the same title. Jean-Do was the handsome young editor of Elle magazine, with the house, the car, a beautiful wife and adorable children, and of course, the other woman. While enjoying the accoutrements of the good life he suffers a massive stroke that leaves him paralyzed from head to toe, but for the ability to blink his left eye. He is afflicted with what is termed locked-in syndrome. He retains the faculties of memory and imagination and, with the help of his devoted carers, is able to complete his memoire by blinking yes or no in response to a particular letter of the alphabet. With the aide of a patient scribe, Jean-Do retraces the defining moments of his short life from the fresh perspective of this unique predicament, inside what he metaphorically describes as his diving bell - the world beneath his skin containing all of his subjective thoughts, his reflexive response to what appears real externally, and what he retains of his past. The aesthetic is represented as a butterfly that wanders at will, and graces the things its touches with its beauty. He sees the faces of his loved ones: his wife, lover, children, and adorable carers, and appreciates what he has lost - the capacity to fully express his love for them with a gentle embrace. It is a multi layered film that explores the emotional responses of others to Jean-Do's loss as well. This is one of those rare films that can change your way of seeing. I found it profoundly moving and performed by an outstanding cast. The one shame is that Jean-Do hasn't survived to see what beauty his little butterfly is bringing to the world after all. ...more info
  • humanity at it's strongest
    The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a pretty good film, but not the best movie you'll ever see. It's a typical French film in a sense that it's done with a different point of view than an American film would be. After all, what's considered artsy in Hollywood is almost procedural in the French cinema. Yet, this movie was done by an American director - Julian Schnabel, who did not yield to pressure to make this film in English, believing that the story needed to be told exclusively in French, and even learned French to make the movie.
    What puts this movie on a lot of critics' Top Ten List of 2007 is the story itself and its undenying hopeful message. What's truly enlightening about this movie is the surprising comedic element in it and the way comedy makes the story more acceptable, more endurable and, in a way, more part of the human experience.
    Based on the French memoir Le scaphandre et le papillon by Jean-Dominique Bauby, a journalist and the editor of the ELLE magazine in Paris, who at 43 suffered a stroke that left him with what is known as a "locked-in syndrome," the film is told from the protagonist's point of view; so often all we see is a blink of an eye or a blurry view of the TV. This allows the audience to participate with the character in his struggle to regain some of the humanity and in his determination "to write" his experiences by blinking his narration to an amanuensis.
    Because of the spectacular camera-work by cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) film often feels like a documentary even in some of the clearly allegorical and fictional experiences.
    Overall, this movie should be watched for the experience of seeing, but also, experiencing something new and extraordinary - a life that we all hope never having to experience firsthand....more info
  • The Artist of the Floating World
    At the age of 43, Elle magazine editor (and womanizer extraordinaire) Jean-Dominique Bauby suffers a severe stroke that leaves his entire body paralyzed, save for one eyelid. The stroke is, in fact, so severe that doctors describe his very rare condition as a "locked-in" state, because although his left eyelid is the only functioning muscle in his body, his brain is perfectly lucid. The accident radically diminishes Bauby's communicative abilities. Eventually, he begins to communicate with nurses and friends via a sort of Morse code of eye twitches, but the process of forming words one letter at a time is tedious to say the least and often invites only intense frustration and intense loneliness. Most of the film is, therefore, Bauby looking on the world with his one eye and speaking to himself. Luckily, his memory and imagination, and, most importantly, his sense of humor, remain intact. Many scenes involve an inert Bauby daydreaming about his female therapists who, ironically enough, resemble Elle models (and these daydreams provide much needed comic relief). Another irony is that, just before the accident, a publisher had been negotiating with Bauby for a memoir. Once he has the accident the publisher, like most of the fashion world, assumes Bauby is a vegetable. To the publishers surprise, however, Bauby decides to go ahead with the project (even though it means writing his memoir one blink at a time). "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is that memoir.

    Schnabel, already a long established figure in the world of fine art, has paintings hanging in many of the worlds finest museums. And it is obvious that Schnabel identifies with Bauby, who was a visual artist in his own right. From the opening credits to the word fin ("Diving Bell and Butterfly" is in French with English subtitles), the film is, in many ways, a series of shimmering dream-like surfaces. Surfaces may imply depth but the fact remains that visual art can only hint at the possible depths while literature and film (and other narrative arts) can dwell, or at least offer the illusion of dwelling, in the depths. Schnabel is an artist who exists between mediums and that is evident here as this looks and feels like a piece of visual art first, with narrative being only a secondary concern. This film is, in many ways, a series of impressions only loosely and provisionally linked by Bauby's narrative which is a suspicious one (Bauby calls attention to his own unreliability at least once). Surfaces are dwelled on at length and even if they are not ultimatley to be trusted (because, in the artist especially, the impulse to aestheticize and fabricate and perfect imperfect nature is so strong)they tend to both inspire and to provide solace. Oddly enough, though Bauby had several lovers (so many that the viewer may, at times, have a hard time figuring out just who is who among them) the one that he seems to care most about, "Ines", is never shown (or shown so briefly that she exists primarily as a fantasy or muse).

    But, again, everything the artist touches/contemplates/imagines is aestheticized; even his daydreams and fantasies look like the fashion fantasy spreads you see in the pages of, well, women's (and men's) fashion magazines. At times his pre-accident life seems exciting and at times it seems fairly superficial (we experience Bauby's life before the accident only as he remembers it). Some viewers might desire to know less about what it all looked like and sounded like (an excellent rock sountrack includes Velvet Underground & Tom Waits) and more about what motivated such a man to rise to the top of his game. All we really know is that Bauby dedicated his life to visual pleasure and this, more than anything else, is what Schnabel seems to be drawn to. Lovers of visual art (oil painting, graphic art, photography etc...) will respond favorably and most likely be the most outspoken champions of this film; while lovers of narrative art will be divided as to the effectiveness of Schnabel's visual representations of Bauby's locked-in state. The Diving Bell is such an obvious metaphor that it is not as poignant as it should be (plus it may remind some viewers of Dustin Hoffman's scuba scene in The Graduate). And the Butterfly as a metaphor is barely mentioned. The most affecting images are the ones that do not function as metaphors (the intensely vivid close-ups of insect and plant life, the enormous mountains of ice sliding into the sea). Schnabel is at his best when he foregoes conventional rhetorical sense-making and ventures into the pre-or-post-verbal world of hyper-real imagery that symbolizes nothing literally but simply is what it is. In this sense, Schnabel is the cinematic equivalent of a postmodernist. A lot of the imagery feels like borrowed and appropriated documentary footage which is perhaps fitting as Bauby also possessed a flair for exausted-but-forever- renewed aesthetic schemes/scenarios (evidenced in his Marie Antoinette fantasies, and in his desire to re-write 'The Count of Monte Cristo"). Both Schnabel and Bauby share a penchant for quoting the past (art and film history) albeit ironically. And while both share a kind of mercenary attitude toward the arts and women, neither of them are above sentimentality when it comes to father and son relationships.

    Perhaps the film is, in the end, a psychoanalytic self-portrait of the artist(s); a self-reckoning whereby the artist attempts to resolve conflicting impulses. On the one hand the artist seeks to live in the glow of the aestheticizing impulse (the mothers love), while, on the other hand, the artist seeks to be valued socially (the father's respect, recognition, and approval). Rarely do artists achieve what they seek or what is necessary or what will suffice to achieve balance in their lives (and that is why more creative work is always necessary). This film expresses better than any other what that balance might feel like were you an artist who had just accomplished such a feat. ...more info
  • Amazing story!
    This is one of those very touching, soul searching stories that often causes the viewer to re-examine the priorities in their own lives. The true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, who knew little about failure and lived life in the fast lane, takes an unfortunate turn when a paralyzing stroke tragically takes that life away from him and leaves Bauby imprisoned in his own body. His struggle to come to terms with 'locked in syndrome' is heart wrenching. Only able to move one eyelid, Bauby dictates his memoir through a special alphabet worked out with a therapist. The slow Morse code Bauby uses to dictate and communicate is a testimony to the amazing strength of patience and perseverance. Amazing story!

    Chrissy K. McVay - Author...more info
  • Let the butterfly fly
    On December 8, 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby, known as Jean-Do to his intimates, age forty-three, editor-in-chief of the world-famous fashion magazine, Elle, was living the "good life" to the extreme when he became the victim of a devastating cerebro-vascular accident that left him in a state of total paralysis, incapable of any verbal communication, in what is known in the medical community as "locked-in syndrome." His mental faculties totally intact as he laid motionless in his hospital bed, Bauby learned to communicate with the outside world using his left eyelid, the only part of his body over which he still had any control. During the next fourteen months, using a communication code developed by his therapist and his publisher's assistant, who transcribed this code, Bauby was able to compose, letter by letter, a lyrical and heartbreaking memoir of his life struggle, "Le Scaphandrier et le papillon." Bauby died in 1997, two days after its publication.

    From Bauby's tragic story, Schnabel has produced an ambitious film which succeeds on all levels. The problem facing Schnabel to bring the book to the screen was how to keep the spectator interested beyond the dramatic situation itself? To this end, he uses several solutions in succession.

    The first thirty minutes of the film are entirely shown in subjective camera. Without any mannerisms or filmic embellishment, Schnabel succeeds in making the spectator conscious of the patient's terrible situation and of his feelings facing his state of total helplessness. At this point, the transposition of our mind is such that the profound disquiet goes beyond simple empathy, becoming also physical.

    Schnabel builds the suspense by progressively revealing the face of the patient. It takes about thirty minutes into the film before we get to clearly see Bauby's distorted, frozen face. From the very beginning of the film, we are not witnessing the story of a man, but we will be this man. But it would be pretentious to say that we will then understand him, the aim of the film being only to paint his intimate portrait, using this ingenious technique.

    Following this long expository scene, the focus of the film now shifts toward Jean-Do's interaction with the people who surround him. These interactions are enough to make the Schnabel's film heartrending and less lyrical or pathetic as it progresses and becomes more of a narrative. This is certainly not a film gimmick to relieve the unbearably oppressive atmosphere crushing the viewers, but a means to keep their interest.

    In what follows, we see episodes of Jean-Do's fantasies, a mixture of memories and dreams, some poignant and some comical or sexy, with some fantastic mise-en-sc®®nes. Jean-Do days resemble parades on a catwalk, about which he was most familiar, as he is constantly visited by the beautiful women who now populate his life: his speech therapist, Henriette (Marie-Jos®¶e Croze), who will teach him the communication code, his physiotherapist, Marie Lopez (Olatz Lopez Garmendia), his estranged partner and the mother of his three children, C®¶line (Emmanuelle Seigner), comes to see him often and help out as much as she can, organizing a picnic on the beach with the whole family on Father's day, or reading to Jean-Do the voluminous mail that he receives daily. And of course, there is Claude (Ann Consigny), who patiently transcribes Jean-Do's "dictations." Bauby, in order to survive his ordeal without losing his mind, had decided to write a memoir, would it be only to prove to his ex-colleagues that he was not a "vegetable" ("What kind? "he asks, "a carrot? a leek?" In a beautiful metaphor, Schnabel literally showing the diving bell which physically imprisons the patient, and the freeing of his imagination in the form of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis and fluttering among fields of flowers may be decorative, but it is certainly appropriate. The desperately claustrophobic atmosphere at the beginning of the film dissipates somewhat with Bauby's realization of the new freedom left to him by hanging onto his humanness.

    The ending of this film consists of a dream sequence showing the opening scene of Truffaut's The 400 Blows (1959), but this time the film is in color, as Jean-Do is driving through Paris in his new car. He is happily going to see his children at his estranged wife's country house. He takes his son, Theophile (Theo Sampaio) for a ride and suffers a stroke. The music in Truffaut's film, linking the beginning and the end of his production, accompanies Antoine Doinel as he escapes the delinquent's school to freedom and happiness only to meet imprisonment, as now Jean-Do has.

    The acting of Mathieu Almaric as Jean-Do is outstanding, and he bears a large responsibility for the film's success. Whether in the flashbacks and fantasies, as the ostentatious ladies' man, or when he stares into the camera with his drooling face, frozen and yet so eloquent, and as the voice-over, where Almaric is another aspect of the Jean-Do, mischievous, sardonic, despairing, lyrical, at no time in this film can Almaric's credibility be questioned.

    An exceptional cast of supporting actors and actresses all provide intense richness of emotions, acting with restraint, with hints of modesty and shyness, contrasting with Jean-Do's absolute and candid thoughts. In particular, the four women are superb. Schnabel seems to have made them a little indistinguishable, since for Jean-Do, connected to life mostly through women, they must each have represented the eternal, untouchable feminine. Patrick Chesnais is perfect as Dr. Lepage, the stereotypical doctor, mixing cynicism with some compassion, who is there for himself and incidentally for his patients. Schnabel is to be congratulated for his discerning choice of exclusively using French actors.

    Ronald Harwood, screenwriter for Roman Polanski's two most recent films, The Pianist (2002) and Oliver Twist (2005), wrote the screenplay which is the backbone of this film. While maintaining the basic structure of the book, Harwood succeeds rather well in pacing the story between immobility and action. However, the key to his success is in making the camera become the man. This is not a new idea, but neither is it a melodramatic gimmick here, and at precisely the right moment Harwood's perspective changes, and his film follows a little more closely the demands of a traditional biography. Friends and family from Bauby's life are introduced one by one, but never in a predictable way, nor based upon clich®¶s.

    Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (Schindler's List/1993, Saving Private Ryan/1998), Spielberg's chief cinematographer for the last fifteen years, is brilliant. Rarely has the subjective camera been so well handled: camera out of focus to express the blurring caused by tears; the fades out to black corresponding to the blinking of the eyelid; the occasional leaning of the camera and the brusqueness of some trackings harmoniously fade the shots into the subjective camera. The sets are all spectacular. The image is at times out-of-focus, sometimes brilliant and colorful, sometimes blinding and off-center: this is truly the work of Schnabel, the painter.

    Schnabel, perhaps by accident, provides a free endorsement for the French governmental health system. The whole film takes place on the backdrop of the public Maritime Hospital at Berk-sur-Mer, in northern France. However, viewing the medical care provided to Bauby and the environment of the establishment, American audiences will be forgiven for thinking that this is a special private hospital where only well to do people, such as Bauby, are treated. Not so, this is simply a public hospital, typical of where any French person gets his or her free care.

    As in all Schnabel's other film, the soundtrack plays an important part. In this film, the rather eclectic music mix, from Lolita by Nelson Riddle, to Jean Constantin's theme of Les 400 coups, to U2, Nino Rota, Tom Waits, and Paul Cantelon, who wrote piano music for the film, gives the film a contemporary rock-punk connotation.

    Schnabel raises several points. He touches the question of continuity in relationships, when the other person becomes a mere shadow of his or her old self, in particular, when the relationship has been intense and at the same time fragile in time and faithfulness. This is raised in a heartbreaking scene, where C®¶line becomes the unwilling intermediary between Jean-Do and In®®s, In®®s telling Jean-Do that she cannot bear to come and see him as he is now.

    Schnabel describes the souvenirs and bits of one's life that one must be seeing while standing before the gates of death, but in this particular case taking just a little longer. However, Jean-Do has already died, and has come back to life as an eye.

    The film is also about what it means to be an artist. Sickness is a bit like genius, a source of misunderstanding and exclusion, and the artist, like the patient, is in constant battle against the outside world. To escape one's fate, society's cruelty and restraints, one can only rely on one's own intelligence, creativity, and heroism. By reaching deep within himself, Bauby extends his life beyond the limitations of his body by dreaming and creating a work of art. It's a face-off against himself, where the Superego, the butterfly, gains the upper hand over the Ego, the diving bell. Schnabel is a spiritual man, but not a religious one. He believes in the goodness of people, and in their capacity for being patient with their fellow humans and treating them well, just for the sake of it, the way the women in the film give freely of themselves, trying to help Jean-Do.

    Finally, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is a simple but powerful lesson about life, not in the moralistic sense, but in the energy it carries. As Bauby says in voice-over at the beginning of the film, the lesson is that we should experience life, living in the present, learning to recognize and appreciate the small moments of happiness as they come along, and most importantly, to love.
    ...more info
  • Incredible!
    When I read the book I couldn't imagine how they could translate the stories into a movie. It was incredible, it's a new favorite of mine and I can't wait until it's available for sale. The acting by everyone was superb. When the credits were over I overheard an elderly man in front of me tell someone that he was a stroke victim and they couldn't have captured what it's like any better....more info
  • Good, But No Masterpiece
    "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is yet another 2007 film that fails to live up to the hype. Don't get me wrong, this is a good film but not a great one.

    Of course, there are some good moments in the film: 1) the phone call from the mistress when the wife is present is a very moving scene. 2) Father's Day with his children on the beach. 3) Of course, Max von Sydow was excellent and his call to his son was very cathartic, one of the best moments in the film.

    Now for the criticisms. For one thing, the filmmmaking is rather clumsy. For example, the image of the deep-sea diving suit is used not once but at least a half-dozen times throughout the movie. The metaphor is not that interesting to warrant the constant reprise of this image. Indeed, all of the visualizations of the title seem rather uninspired and bland - butterflies flying around and a deep-sea diving suit. Basically, it's just making a visual equation of the title - a very easy thing to do. My problem is that the image didn't give birth to the title, but the other way around, which makes it stupid to use it over and over.

    In fact, there is little to this movie beyond the title, which provides the basic metaphor of the film. Although weighed down by his physical parlysis, Bauby is still able to reach great artistic heights due to the exercise of his imagination. In fact, the film feels the need to have Bauby's amanuensis Celine essentially state the titular metaphor of the film: "You are my diving bell but also my butterfly" - something like that. All of this is rather heavy-handed and obvious.

    As far as the film bridging the subjective and objective, this only amounts to the tired technique of the camera acting as the character's eyes with voiceover. It is well-handled in this film and doesn't plumb the depths of the laughable voiceover work as "Awake" did. But still, there is nothing very original or daring about all this.

    Now, I've never read the book, but I hardly intend to. And I wouldn't say the film is not moving in a general sense, as are most films of its kind. However, it has nothing to offer that other such films about struggles against physical adversity don't. Essentially, it is an embodied cliche, the familiar storyline of the physically challenged person first expressing anger/pity at his state and then sublimating their sufering through imagination/creation. Only the details have been changed. Just to compare, I think "My Left Foot" is a much better film, more moving in its portrayal of a caring family and reaching a deeper emotional state of the protagonist, whose emotions don't seem as perfunctory as in this film. (For instance, Bauby states at one point "I no longer pity myself" - a rather too pat turnaround for his character I thought and just too straightforward an observation to ring true).

    Listening to the director Schnagel talk on the bonus features was painful. Like ever other filmmaker, his film addresses the profound questions of life and death. Oh gee, what a surprise. "It was essentially a self-help exercise to help me overcome the fear of death." (Sounds like a solipsistic exercise.) "I'm not a filmmmaker - I'm a painter." Well, I can believe the last one, because this is not that well-directed of a film. I feel like it could have been better. (Schnagel's pontifications reminded me of Werner Herzog's observation that whenever filmmakers talk about their work it is embarrasing and undignified, whereas an ordinary person always seems to retain his dignity before the camera.)

    Don't get me wrong: I respect Bauby, but the film does not seem to do his story justice. For example, despite their screen time together, Bauby and Celine's relationship is actually not explored that deeply when you think about it. The movie dwells on the surface and never really addresses the deep questions that it professes to, unlike the work of truly masterful filmmakers like Bergman and Kieslowski, to name just two.

    But, of course, this is just my opinion, and I'm sure many of you will disagree....more info
  • A love story in the blink of an eye . . .
    "My mind takes flight like a butterfly."

    Based on Jean-Dominique Bauby's French memoir, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le Scaphandre et le Papillon), painter-director Julian Schnabel's 2007 film, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly tells the story of Bauby's life after suffering a massive stroke at the age of 43. Bauby (Mathieu Amalric), a well-known Parisian, and the French editor of Elle magazine, suffered a stroke which rendered his brain stem inactive. When he woke from a deep coma twenty days later, he found he was mute and almost entirely paralyzed. He could only move his head a little, grunt, and blink his left eye. This rare condition is called locked-in syndrome. In this condition, with the help of his speech therapist (Marie-Josee Croze), Bauby authored his memoir entirely in his head, conveying it one letter at a time by blinking his left eye when an assistant (Anne Consigny) reciting the alphabet arrived at the letter he had in mind. (Bauby's extraordinary book reportedly took about 200,000 blinks to write.) Bauby died two after his book was published.

    As if his paralyzed body were imprisoned in a diving bell, with his mind still as free as a butterfly, Bauby's poignant memoir is a rare testament in what it means to be human. To get a sense of what his film is about--imagine Bauby, his right eyelid sutured shut, fed a brownish fluid through a gastric tube, drooling uncontrollably, breathing through a tracheostomy tube, his urine leaking into his bedding from a catheter, meanwhile traveling the world in his memory, reflecting upon his family and friends, socializing at the Cafe de Flore, eating French food (boeuf en gelee and homemade sausage and wine), and remembering the pleasure of lying in bed beside his lover. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, as the title "A Memoir of Life in Death" suggests, is a love story about one man's love of life. Recommended for anyone interested in what it means to be truly alive in the world.

    Julian Schnabel (Basquiat, Before Night Falls), has transformed Bauby's highly-recommended book into a film that is poignant and profound. Much of the movie is told from Bauby's perspective, memories and imagination. There are several beautiful scenes (filmed by cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski) where Bauby's imagination takes flight, transporting him to beaches, mountains, and lovers he has known. This was one of the ten best cinematic experiences of 2007 in my opinion.

    G. Merritt ...more info
  • Beautiful film
    Beautiful film. I'm grateful the filmmaker decided to go against the original plan to shoot it as an English-language film and instead shoot it in French.

    After seeing this true story about the last months of a SEVERELY disabled person, it will be a long time before I complain about the problems in my own life.

    An inspiring story....more info
  • Life worth living
    I know that this film is meant to be inspirational, but I found it difficult to watch. It is a story of French magazine "Elle"'s editor who suffers a stroke that leaves him paralized so that only his left eye has any movement. With the help of his physical and speach therapists he learns to communicate by blinking. It is that way of communication that helped him create the book of the same title as this movie. Film explores what it must be for a person to be locked inside his own body. Completely aware of surroundings, conversations taking place, people around and yet unable to talk, move or even blow away the fly that is on his nose while he is helplessly strapped to his therapeutic table. It takes full staff of doctores, therapists, nurses and nursing aides to feed, bathe and care for him around the clock. In spite of the terrible affliction, we have reservations about this man who still seems selfish, sexist, insensitive to women who love him, not around his children enough. But it seems that writing this autobiography was his life's legacy to not only his immediate family but world. Stricken by stroke at age 42 he dies almost a year later only a few days after his book was published. If one has not thought about living will, power of attorney and choices we need to make at the times when something terrible like this happens to any of us, I guarantee that one will start thinking about these things after watching this movie. ...more info