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Le scaphandre et le papillon
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly More at IMDbPro »Le scaphandre et le papillon (original title)

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8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Overworks its mechanics

Author: D A from SoFla, UsA
15 May 2008

Another example of how tremendous critical praise drowns out a reasonable film. By no means was it terrible, it was just nowhere near the level of authentic inspiration I was led to believe. Schnabel takes this based-on-a-true-story dealing with a paralyzed man and his one eye blink of communication and milks it for everything it is worth.

There is definitely some innovative techniques being tossed around when the director is filming the early coma-scenes from the patient's perspective, though I would struggle to call these groundbreaking or truly unique.

What kills some of the momentum and genuine emotion eventually is an unfortunate repetition that appears after we witness this nurses aide reciting the alphabet in French for the hundredth time, seemingly put in yet again to reiterate the struggle which Schnabel has already helped deaden.

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16 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

my least favorite Schnabel film so far.

Author: factcheck22 from United States
15 December 2007

Not at all what I expected from Schnabel. Self-indulgent and dull. Again like many movies these months; all hype no substance. I'm getting tired of those over hyped movies in November and December, all the studios racing for the Oscars. Most of those films are no better and often worse than movies who came out earlier in the year. But i get why journalist like the film, it's about one of their compeers. So their little eyes fill with tears. "It could be me!" " It could be a film about me!" I really wanted to love this film, I loved the book, so moving and insightful but they turned it into something superficial and boring. Also they took out many things about his lover that was in the book and I think it killed the integrity of what this man spent months trying to say with one eye. Sad! I give it 3 because it's well filmed but "Munich" looked better.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

very good first 10 minutes, bad use of a powerful theme

Author: uise from Belgium
30 November 2012

It was very well done the discovery of the state of the main character. The impressions were almost physical. But after a big change, in the intrigue, nothing happens. The director fails to create a main plot, is it that the guy publishes a book ? Bauby says that he is like Mr Noitier from Conte DE Monte Cristo. If you haven't read the book, Noitier is an old man who communicates with his niece by clinging the eye, so we could say he is not in a so abnormal state, and eye clinging communication is ancient. So no gain. But we could say that Bauby is young officer who went to prison on his wedding day, who learned a lot during his imprisonment which is a cocoon, to become a mighty count – a butterfly. In this movie we see a guy who succeeds to publish a book despite his severe handicap, and one week later he dies. The plot could have been "a superficial" editor for a glossy magazine has a severe accident, and he discovers the beauty of having a family, of friends, of enjoying the rays of sun. It is missing the evolution of the main character, he is a too much loving son, a very good father before the accident, after it he remains a skirt hunter. The diving suit could have been his cocoon and to become free afterwords, a butterfly.

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.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

apparently 2007 was a slow year for movies

Author: dwillingham23 from United States
8 July 2012

Sheer torture. Not the plight of this man, but the movie. No emotional connection to it, didn't care how it ended but only that it DID end.....There are plenty of tragic stories in the world but not every tragedy necessarily makes a good movie. This one is no exception. Imagine what it would be like to have to watch the movies in 2007 that LOST for movie of the year!. I am trying but there truly is no compelling reason to recommend this movie to anyone. The writing was amateurish there was really no acting.If you are going to try and impress your date that you can appreciate foreign films, don't let this be the one. It could be your last date.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

"Imagination and memories"...the tools of daily survival

Author: moonspinner55 from las vegas, nv
22 February 2011

Biographical dramatization of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the 42-year-old French editor of Elle magazine, who suffered a frightening stroke in 1995 which put him into a coma for three weeks; upon awakening in the hospital, he discovered to his shock and amazement that his brain was fully-functioning while his body was paralyzed nearly from head to toe, with only his eyes as his tools of communication (which quickly became one eye, his left, after the right one was sewn shut for fear of infection). Dictating (via blinking) his memoir with aid from extremely patient therapists, Bauby was able to publish a book, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", before contracting pneumonia. This cinematically exciting and challenging film won't be to every taste, but remains an extremely well-done portrait of the human condition: hapless in movement, but alive in imagination. As Bauby, Mathieu Amalric mutters to himself (and us) in sardonic, often bitter amusement as to his fate, while director Julian Schnabel puts the audience in the anguishing position of the patient for long stretches. It was a gamble which pays off artistically and emotionally; once the viewer becomes attuned to the visual angle Schnabel has taken, the film becomes an absorbing and heart-rending journey. *** from ****

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A modern classic

Author: Imdbidia from Planet Earth
15 February 2011

A wonderful harsh movie, based on the autobiographical novel of Jean-Dominique Bauby, with terrific direction and great performances.

The movie tells the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the chief editor of French Vogue, who became completely paralyzed and locked in after having a stroke, perfectly aware of what was happening but unable to speak. The movie is an honest and unsweetened narration of what happened to Bauby, showing his difficulties to overcome tragedy, his sense of humor, the grandeur of his spirit and how the tragedy changed him as a person. The film focuses on his rehabilitation sessions with the speech therapist and physiotherapist, and how he learns to communicate letter by letter by blinking.The film offers flashbacks of his former life, the person he was before he became paralyzed, too, and his inner path after the accident.

The film is also an Eulogy to the power of words and literature as instruments of personal redemption and expression of our soul, as a tool to transmit emotions and feelings, even in the most dramatic circumstances.

Mathieu Amalric, is truly fantastic and completely believable as Bauby, transmitting Bauby's sense of humor, sadness, frustration, loneliness, the regrets about his past life, the acceptance of his new situation, his fight go communicate, and his strength to write a book, letter by letter, blink by blink. However, all actors are great in their respective roles.

The direction and editing are superb as they offer an objective-subjective point of view of the story by the use of the camera and different narrative points of view.

This is one of those stories that reminds you how wonderful is to be alive and be healthy, and that we cannot take for granted what we have. However, it is realistic, not sentimental, true to the contradictions of any human spirit.

A terrific movie. A modern classic.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:


Author: Hitchcoc from United States
12 January 2009

I remembered hearing this title, so when it showed up on a cable station, I decided to watch it. I was transfixed. I think a massive stroke and total dependence on others is one of those events that we all fear in the darkest reaches of the soul. What we have here is a very successful man, a cad, a pretty poor father, suddenly finding himself paralyzed except for one eye which he can move around and the ability to blink. This leads to a story told from the perspective of the victim. What is really wonderful about this film is that they didn't make this a maudlin survivor film. I don't even know if I could call it inspirational. He continues to deal with failings and to act in rather offensive ways, even without speech. This is about total introspection and thought. He was a character devoid of gratitude and still has trouble with it, though totally at the mercy of his condition. I couldn't help but think of Dalton Trumbo's "Johnny Got His Gun," to find such a protagonist. Another really strong point of this film is that the things we predict will happen don't always. He is left to his loneliness and despair at times. He had an empty life in many ways before, and much the same in the end. Great cinematography and story telling. Remarkable performances.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A unique experience

Author: bandw from Boulder, CO
11 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Jean-Dominique Bauby had a massive stroke at the age of 43 that left his mind intact but with the only functioning body part being his left eye. Having been an editor of the upscale French women's magazine "Elle," Bauby lived a suitably upscale life--three children by one woman, a mistress, fancy restaurants and cars, a country estate. So, having been felled by a stoke one would think that Bauby would be impossibly depressed, and indeed the first thing he is able to communicate by way of blinking his eye in response to the recitation of the alphabet is, "I want death." But in fairly short order he resolves to stop pitying himself and escapes into his memory and imagination and undertakes to write a book no less. In the first part of the film we see the world through Bauby's one eye. This is very difficult viewing, but by being put into this circumscribed world I came to understand Bauby's plight, at least in some small way. And director Schnabel is to be admired for not rushing things--while I got tired of hearing the alphabet recited over and over, I was forced to think of what Bauby had experienced.

Bauby's life experience and Schnabel's vision have come together to create a remarkable artistic achievement. I cannot comment on Schnabel's paintings, but he brings an artist's eye and temperament to his film-making. Much of the movie is filmed in and around the hospital in Berck-sur-Mer in northern France (where Bauby was treated) and Schnabel takes full advantage of the beauty of the natural surroundings to provide a peaceful backdrop to the outdoor scenes.

Bauby's reaction to his dire predicament is quite inspiring. He remarked that it took such an event for him to discover his true self. I am not sure what that means, since I think we all have many true selves, but the comment indicates admirable courage and an ability to make the best of what life deals you. But Bauby was no Pollyanna. He could be cynical--when informed that many people were praying for him he noted the apparent lack of success. And when told to rest up, he said to himself, "What the hell to you think I am doing." He also expresses horror when seeing reflections of himself. One thing that may have cheered him considerably is that he was surrounded by beautiful women. His speech therapist, his nurse, the mother of his children, his lover, and the woman who transcribed his book were all beauties (at least as portrayed in the movie).

Bauby could be most eloquent in his writing. For example, toward the end he wrote, "Like a sailor seeing the shore disappear, I watch my past recede, reduced to the ashes of memory." It is not surprising that a man with such a gift for self expression would seek to capitalize on his talent and find satisfaction in it, even in the worst of circumstances. Out of one man's tragedy has come a unique work of art that has benefited many.

Fine performances are turned in by all. Max von Sydow is particularly affecting in his two scenes. The music is all over the map, from Bach to Nina Rota to Tom Waits to the love theme from the original "Lolita." The flashback scene where Bauby is driving through the streets of Paris could almost have been pulled out of "The Four Hundred Blows," complete with music. It sounds like a grab bag, but it all seems to work.

There are some very poignant scenes like when Bauby is on the beach with his children and he rues not being able to touch them, but nevertheless delights in their presence. Perhaps the deepest meaning I got was to see how much pleasure Bauby took in small things like the breeze ruffling a woman's skirt or how the sun lighted some bushes.

I am not sure this movie quelled my fears of having a stroke, but it shows how one can reduce expectations so as to extract pleasure from life even in the face of extreme physical restrictions.

You stand a chance of missing a brilliantly realized film if you avoid this because you think it would be too depressing.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A stunning movie

Author: valleyjohn from United Kingdom
15 November 2008

The Diving Bell and The Butterfly - My Review Current mood: sympathetic Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Imagine one day you feeling a little sick and next think you knew you you were waking up in a hospital bed unable to move a muscle listening to doctors discuss your fate.You try to talk but they cant hear you. Your only way of communication is to blink your one good eye. It's an horrific thought but it's exactly the scenario Jean-Dominique Bauby found himself in. Amazingly he still managed to write a book of which this amazing film is based on.

'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' is the remarkable true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby , a successful and charismatic editor-in-chief of French Elle, who believes he is living his life to its absolute fullest when a sudden stroke leaves him in a life-altered state. While the physical challenges of Bauby's fate leave him with little hope for the future, he begins to discover how his life's passions, his rich memories and his new found imagination can help him achieve a life without boundaries.

I feel sorry for people who have no time for subtitled movies . They are missing out on some of the best movies ever made. In the last couple of years i have watched some amazing movies such as , The Lives of Others, Letters from Iwo Jima ,The Kite Runner and Pan's Labyrinth . Now if you have avoided any of these film because they are subtitled then it's your loss.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is another amazing foreign film that i urge you to get hold of. Director Julian Schnabel has made a film that makes you think - What would happen if you suddenly couldn't communicate with your friends of family? - What if you hadn't treated them as well as you should have? It's about regret and how one man managed to live a life when many would have given up.

Bauby is brilliantly played by Mathieu Amalric (Dominic Greene from Quantum of Solace) . It's an amazing performance that will live with me for a very long time. There is also some great acting from Max von Sydow , Emmanuelle Seigner , Marie-Josée Croze and Marie-Josée Croze.

Some of the camera work is stunning. Lots of the film is shown from Bauby's one good eye . When he laughs , we laugh . What he sees we see. When he cries we cry. The viewer and Jean-Dominique Bauby become one and for the Director to pull off means he deserves an enormous amount of credit. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was nominated for five Academy awards this year and rightly so.

I recommend The Diving Bell and The Butterfly to anybody who loves movies.

9 out of 10

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

This Film Teaches You to Appreciate Your Life, and Beauty

Author: Curtis Smale from United States
15 August 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Say what you want about the failings of the French, beautiful sounding language, good food, open-hearted human cinema, and simply enjoying life with all its flowers, colors, emotions and varied forms of love are not among them.

THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY is a French celebration of all of the above.

Julian Schnabel's film is a true story, about enjoying life and coming to terms with death.

Mathieu Amalric plays Jean-Dominique(Jean-Do) Bauby--and so do you, the viewer, because Schnabel's film is shot mostly from the point of view of the main character.

(If you ever wanted to know what it would be like to be paralyzed and yet have a great attitude and imagination, this film is your answer, spelled out in cinematic love letters.)

Jean-Dominique Bauby was the bon vivant editor/director of the French version of Elle fashion magazine.

At age 42, he had a stroke which left him so completely paralyzed that he could only blink his left eyelid. A woman therapist used a letter-card to allow Bauby to communicate by blinking.

By doing this, for the first time in human history, Bauby communicates what it's like to have had a stroke and to be almost completely imprisoned within one's body. (Locked-In Syndrome)

Incredibly, he wrote the book this movie is based on entirely with his left eyelid.

Bauby's life turns into an appreciation of thoughts and memories of his past life, and his wild imagination, and his present outings with his children, who he says must see him as a "zombie."

(But of course they don't. As with Christopher Reeve, any father who can communicate words of sincere affection and love and encouragement to his children is not dead or useless, no matter his physical condition. The father who cannot do these things is probably dead and useless while he lives.)

This film is now on my short list of favorite movies of the last five years.

Even though the film was directed and financed by Americans, it is subtitled in French. Please do not let this fact prevent you from renting this experience on DVD.

(You can try the excellent English audio track, if you like, but I recommend hearing the French. The film moves at such a pace that reading the subtitles is not hard, and actually quite enjoyable. It was made with subtitling in mind from the beginning, maybe that is why it's so good in this respect.)

THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY is not at all a depressing film, but rather a deeply moving one which encourages you to enjoy life more. (What a great thing if a film has the power to do that.)

Wasn't much of the film cinematically gorgeous?

This is a film that is in the category of my idea of "true cinema": using characters, emotion, dialogue, light and color, editing and pacing as the most important elements of film-making.

Most films today that hit the big screen are all about the one big special effect at the center of the film.

As people get older, they often lose interest in films because most movies are aimed so strongly at the youth audience.

Not this film.

Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski is a masterful painter of light. He crafts dream-visions without digital post-production effects, and in real time.

On the back of the DVD case, film critic David Denby of The New Yorker says that this film is "nothing less than the rebirth of the cinema."

If it were seen by enough people, I would agree.

This movie is visual poetry and literature, combined.

Some of my favorite scenes are:

* Max von Sydow, speaking French, "talking" to his son after his stroke for the first time, over the phone. It is by far the best and most realistic piece of acting I have seen from von Sydow. Very emotional. (Compare the utter realism of this character with the very effective but comic- book-like tyrant he played at the center of MINORITY REPORT.)

* The scene at night with Bauby walking though the colorful and brightly-lit city shops is gorgeous, (It looks very similar to a favorite scene of mine from CODE 46.)

* The scenes of the man floating in the diving bell.

* The tilted camera shots at the end, foreshadowing the stroke Jean-Do will have in the car.

* The love the father shows for the son in the car, at the end.

* The final Alaskan glacier-falling scenes in reverse-motion symbolizing a restoration of Bauby's life through memory, and perhaps through death.

The sound design is excellent throughout.

* The fact that Bauby died just ten days after his book, " The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" was published.

Are you living in the present, at a high level of consciousness and feeling alive? If not, maybe this movie can help you. Really.

One question for you to ponder: who loved Jean-Do the most: his ex-wife, his nurse, or his lover, and why?

Three words on this movie:




review of DVD extras:

The approximately 20 minute Charlie Rose interview with director Julian Schnabel is worth watching.

Final comment:

This is one of those movies that you suspect there is a lot more in there than you noticed.

You might be right...

Please visit my movie review website by typing Movie Reviews by Curtis Smale into Google. Thank you.

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