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Based on the memoir of the same name, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly tells the story of Jean- Dominique Bauby after he suffers a massive stroke that renders him paralysed from head to toe. Being able to communicate by blinking his only functioning eye, the plot covers the monumental task he undertakes to write a book, one letter at a time.
Directed by Julian Schnabel, the first act of the film is shot entirely from Bauby's perspective that puts the viewers in the protagonist's shoes, allows them to experience the confusion & frustration that he's feeling, and broadens out once the extent of his damage is fully revealed. It's no doubt a smart technique, for it instantly brings the audience on the same wavelength as Bauby.
Although majority of the plot unfolds inside the hospital, the story does move out in a much more serene environment as plot progresses and those scenes are gorgeously photographed. Utilising unconventional angles which only work out in its favour, the film also lets us in on his inner voice, sheds more light on his past, and never shies away from showcasing his undeterred imagination.
Coming to the acting department, Mathieu Amalric plays Jean-Dominique Bauby from inside out and is absolutely fantastic in the given role. Having nothing but an eye to shape his performance, it's amazing what Amalric pulls off here, for his work isn't just expressive & evocative but amusing as well, when it's meant to be. And he's brilliantly supported by the rest of the cast who play their part responsibly.
On an overall scale, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a spiritually elevating tale that beautifully illustrates the power of imagination and is an uplifting account of the indomitable will of the human spirit to overcome near-impossible odds. Wonderfully directed, sensibly scripted, exquisitely shot, patiently edited & splendidly performed, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is discomforting but it's also inspiring. One of the best films of its year.
This is definitely an amazing cinematic experience. Almost 45 minutes of the movie in the POV of the paralyzed protagonist. This will make you to feel his helplessness and suffocation. The renowned DOP Janusz Kaminski has done a wonderful job to communicate this feeling. Director Julian Schnabel, actor Mathieu Amalric and all others made a very well impact in the movie.
The movie is sad, but give you an energy and motivation to live. Watching this movie will change your views of life at least for some days. When you are so frustrated and tired of life, this is one of the films recommended.
Do not miss this movie. Highly Recommended!
One would expect the monologue first person POV to be a tough watch. It turns out to be quite hypnotic. His need and frustration is so compelling. I still remember the guy turning off his TV. It doesn't hurt to be staring at Marie-Josée Croze's face. Amalric's performance could be easily dismissed but his distorted face is shocking to look at. It's a surprisingly compelling watch all the way through.
Unfortunately the movie doesn't quite live up to its potential, or do full justice to this amazing story. That's not to say it isn't well acted. Mathieu Amalric can not be faulted, he is flawless in his portrayal of Jean-Dominique Bauby. However, the movie does not quite deliver on the emotional level, or in setting up the story fully. We spend a lot of time seeing Bauby communicating with beautiful women by blinking his left eye. It becomes more about the writing of the book than it does about his life and his incredible accomplishment. Even the conclusion fades away.
It's still a movie I would recommend, most of all because of the overall qualities intrinsic in the real life story. Done right, it could have been a multiple Academy-award winning movie.
Director Julian Schnabel is a pretty amazing guy. Not only is he a great artist and painter, who also happens to work on films, but he went the extra mile of learning French in order to make this movie. Did it have to be in French? No, but Schnabel demanded it.
Some of this film takes place from the point of view of Bauby, which is pretty amazing given that he is paralyzed in all but his left eye. That makes the use of the camera very limited, but also rather powerful if done right. Here, it is done right.
Julian Schnabel's French film, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, is a powerful and emotional film about a man suffering from locked-in syndrome due to a stroke. Despite having his mental faculties intact, he is almost completely paralyzed and unable to communicate with the outside world. The once successful magazine editor is now living as a prisoner of his own body. The only muscle he is capable of moving is his left eye and with the help of a therapist he manages to communicate by blinking his eye. Mathieu Amalric gives a powerful performance as Jean- Dominique Bauby, and most of the film takes place from his point of view. Schnabel brilliantly and effectively uses camera angles to give the audience a glimpse of what this person's claustrophobic world was like. From the very opening scene we are hooked and drawn to Jean- Do's new world as he's trapped in his body. It is a very emotional film based on the autobiography written by Bauby himself who managed to write the book with the help of his therapist through the use of a communication system they developed. The sole fact that this man was able to write a book in the condition he was in, is reason enough for me to want to read his book or see a movie based on his life. It takes a lot of courage to open up the way Jean-Do did, and I think it is one of the main reasons why this film worked so well for audiences across the globe. It says a lot about how powerless we are against these illnesses, but at the same time we can also share Jean-Do's approach of learning to deal with his disability and facing the obstacles with optimism. He realized that despite being physically disabled he still had his mental faculties and was able to break those boundaries with the power of his imagination. I am also certain that this element is what caught director Schnabel's attention and what pushed him to make this film. He tells the story with such class that despite the emotional moments you never feel he was trying to be manipulative or force the audience into feeling a certain way. The performances in this film are also outstanding, making this an even more engaging movie. I also loved the beautiful imagery that Schnabel used, turning the film into a poem at times.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was a personal film for me considering that my father is going through a slightly similar experience as the character in this film. He suffered a stroke four years ago and hasn't been able to speak since. The right side of his body was paralyzed, but with help from therapy he has been able to walk again. Despite not being able to speak he understands everything and communicates with us through signs and facial expressions. The brave way in which he has managed to face his illness by always being in good spirits and not letting the disease get the best of him is a constant reminder for me of how much our attitude influences the way we approach life. He could be feeling sorry for himself, or he can stay positive and continue to improve with therapy in a similar way that Jean-Do did with his locked in syndrome. Having your mental capabilities intact is a major force considering you can escape those limitations in your mind and let your imagination fly. In a way, it was a turning point for Jean-Do when he realized this and Schnabel managed to capture those moments really well on camera. The scenes he shares with his family members are among my favorite in the film. I loved the scene in which he's in the beach with his ex-wife and kids. It is such an emotional scene but at the same time it felt authentic and real. The scenes with his father, played by Max von Sydow, are also extremely powerful and effective. You rarely see a biopic like this one, and Schnabel deserves all the credit for making an original and moving picture.
The film is always narrated, and by the protagonist himself. We listen his thoughts so carefully that one would describe it as mesmerizing. Mesmerize the viewer, in fact, is something that most films can't do. Maybe it's because the power the protagonist have in making apparently simple situations turns in a poetry class, which is extremely appealing to me. Also, I've never seen a character study mixed with Shakespeare and extreme existentialism before, and probably I won't see something alike outside THAT film.
The vivid cinematography and the smart and 'contemporany' feel in the direction gives a whole new atmosphere to the film. The acting is very good, I mean, It's easy to Mathieu Amalric stand in a place and do nothing, but his eyes's expressions are what really counts and in the film it was good. They say everything you need to know. While isn't a 'excellent' work, we shall agree it was very well-done and convincing.
I guarantee, this film is a masterpiece. This film needs to be watched. 10/10
When the film begins, you see what the world looks like when a man (Jean-Dominique Bauby) very, very slowly awakens for the first time in weeks. It seems he's been in a coma and this is the result of a stroke--a stroke occurring to a vibrant man who was only in his early 40s at the time. This is possibly the best part of the film and it caught my attention--the fascinating use of very unusual camera angles, focus and close-ups.
After this preliminary examination is complete, one thing is obvious to the doctors---Jean-Dominque cannot talk or communicate. He THINKS he's communicating but no one can hear me and he's locked inside his broken body. Soon the doctors tell him he has something called a 'locked-in syndrome'. In other words, he might never re-learn to communicate or move--this is a horribly scary diagnosis. However, through the course of the film, he learns that he can move his one eye and with that he then learns to communicate.
After working with therapists, Jean-Dominique has an unusual request--he wants his therapist to call a publisher. It seems that he (who was the real life editor of 'Elle' magazine) had an existing contract to write a book--and now he wanted to dictate his memoirs! To do this, he had to use a painfully slow methods involving blinks to spell out every word of the text! Long, complicated but, amazingly, quite possible--resulting an an actual book "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"--which also became the title of this movie.
I could say more about the film but it's best to just see it yourself. I should point out that although it's listed as a French-language film on IMDb, somehow (perhaps much later) an English language dub was also made--using many of the actual voices of folks in the movie (which IS unusual). All in all, I was surprised how watchable the dub was, as I usually avoid dubs because they are done so poorly and so much of the original film is often lost. All in all, it's an exceptional film.
By the way, if you DO watch the film be aware that there is some nudity (in his dreams and flashbacks) and a few of the scenes in the film are tough to watch. It's really not a kids film.
If this ever happens to me, however, I would like my speech therapist to use the system from Breaking Bad - you have a 5x5 matrix board of the alphabet and pick row, then column, to choose your letter. Jean-Do could have saved a good six months of people reciting the alphabet to him. French medical care, eh?
I can only imagine the horror of being stuck in a lifeless husk of a body... I think I'd want to die. The guy is far braver than I am.... every day people bathe him, dress him, assist him with his toilet functions... and yet he still manages to smile and retain his rather dark sense of humour. Either that or go insane, I suppose. We see his life before the tragedy, and there is rather a sad irony in his actions in the past, considering his current status. Could this be a form of cosmic justice?
Mathieu Amalric is breathtakingly good as the paraplegic lead. A lot of the movie is shot from his POV, and we get a real feel for his character as he experiences ups and downs while adjusting to his new outlook on life. Emmanuelle Seigner is just plain adorable as the lady who helps him find his voice... she's so pretty, you can see how he mistakes her for an angel at first glance. As a triumph over adversity flick, it's a good 'un, and lacks the cheese factor you would associate with an American entry into this genre. Recommended. 7/10
Waking up after three weeks to a medical team in a foreign bed is terrifying. To respond to others but only heard by yourself, to love but not capable of showing emotion is an unfathomable experience that this film does an exceptional job of capturing. The producers of this movie understood what it means to be paralyzed, both from a physical and an emotional perspective, and succeed in telling the story of Jean-Do from his point of view.
The tremendous tale of Jean-Dominique Bauby is one that captures the essence of human life and pursues the meaning of existence. This seriously thought-provoking motion picture is one for the ages, and is a film that should be praised for its originality and dedication to magnifying the value of life.
Besides missing the big turning point, there are unfinished stories, for example Bauby is called by his mistress in the presence of his wife, who apologize postponing her visit, and she says that she wants to see him this is a well-built moment, but after he tells her that he misses her each day, we don't hear anything about her.
The play of actors is decent, with the exception of Max Sidow, the father who cries all the time.
Here we have a typical melodrama that follows all the typical patterns of melodrama films. That's it. Period.
I have seem people say that this film is one of the best ever made. Please, try watching some serious stuff, like Apocalipse Now, 8 1/2, Spirited Away and 2001 (to restrict myself to obvious masterpieces) before making such ludicrous claims. If one does say that these films are boring or don't make sense, that's only because one failed to understand them. Period.
This biographical drama depicts Bauby's life after suffering a massive stroke, on December 8, 1995 which left him with a condition known as locked-in syndrome. The condition paralyzed him from the neck down. Although both eyes worked, doctors decided to sew up his right eye as it was not irrigating properly and they were worried that it would become infected. He was left with only his left eye and the only way that he could communicate was by blinking his left eyelid.It follows Bauby's story to the letter from his instantaneous descent from a wealthy and congenial playboy and the editor of French Elle, to a bed-bound, hospitalized stroke victim with an inactive brain stem that made it impossible for him to speak or move a muscle of his body. This prison, as it were, became a kind of "diving bell" for Bauby wherein one with no means of escape. With the editor's mind unaffected, his only solace lay in the "butterfly" of his seemingly depthless fantasies and memories. Because of Bauby's physical restriction, he only possessed one channel for communication with the outside world: ocular activity. By moving his eyes and blinking, he not only began to interact again with the world around him, but astonishingly authored the said memoir via a code used to signify specific letters of the alphabet.
What's fascinating is that it is the very restrictions the story imposes on a director that allow Schnabel to turn it into such an eerie stunner of a movie.It uses his skill as a painter to assemble a collage of fantastical images to reveal the exquisite physical wreck that Bauby has become.Both Schnabel and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski fundamentally retool the template for the biopic to create one of the greatest portrayals of the mind's eye ever put to film. A discomforting but inspiring struggle for one enduring, final expression.Overall,it is a breathtaking visuals and dynamic performances make it a powerful biopic.