DVD Review: ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was nominated for four Academy Awards this year.  Director Julian Schnabel  won the Best Director prize at this year’s Golden Globes.  And chances are you’ve never heard of it.  (This is one of those movies that never makes it to my neck of the woods and forces me to wait patiently until it comes out on DVD.)  Mainstream audiences don’t have the patience for a film like this.  While it is expertly crafted, Diving Bell definitely isn’t for everyone.

Diving Bell & the ButterflyWhat’s it about? In 1995 Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Almarec), editor of French Elle, had a stroke.  Upon awaking from a coma, he discovered he was almost completely paralyzed.  He had the use of only his left eye–his right  had to be sewn shut because he couldn’t blink it.  Despite the fact he was a prisoner in his own body, Bauby wrote his memoir with the help of a scribe who recited the letters of the alphabet, blinking when she came to the right letter.  That’s right, he wrote a book.  With his left eye.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a cinematic painting of life, death, love, lust, family and imagination.  While Bauby may have been trapped in his body, his mind was free to escape to wherever he wish.

What’s good about it? Director Julian Schnabel does things I’ve never seen in a movie.  The first half hour or so is spent from Bauby’s point of view–we even see his right eye get sewn shut!  There are some tender performances from Bauby’s ex (Emmanuelle Seigner) and Bauby’s father (Max Von Sydow).

What’s bad about it? I was surprised that The Diving Bell and the Butterfly received a PG-13.  The film has quite a bit of nudity.  This one should have been rated R.

Like is said, the film requires a lot of patience.  Half an hour from a paralyzed man’s point of view may be hard for some to sit through.  And, like Under the Same Moon, this is a foreign-language film, so if you hate subtitles, you might want to pass.

Perfect for: people who like Art in their art films.


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2 Responses to “DVD Review: ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’”

  1. Miss Berrie Says:

    The guy wrote a book with one eye shut, and I can’t even make my bed in the morning. I don’t think I could handle this movie.

  2. Teresa Balzarano Says:

    My husband of 19 years married to him has the same stroke his left eye was sew close.We have two little girls The y told me he has 1% ever moving his body again. I believe he will move again.I have to keep the faith or theres no hope.I was told to see the movie but I can not I want to keep up my hope with god.I can not even call it lock in syndrome I known he has it .But I will find the key to unlock my one love and only love. Mrs Joseph Balzarano p.s. if there some one that could help us please do.!

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