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The Diving Bell and The Butterfly 2007

PG-13 CC
Available on Prime

A journalist paralyzed by a stroke finds an unexpected way to communicate. This powerful true tale of human resilience was named on numerous year-end 10 Best lists.

Starring:
Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner
Runtime:
1 hour, 52 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama
Director Julian Schnabel
Starring Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner
Supporting actors Marie-Josée Croze, Anne Consigny, Patrick Chesnais, Niels Arestrup, Olatz López Garmendia, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Marina Hands, Max von Sydow, Gérard Watkins, Théo Sampaio, Fiorella Campanella, Talina Boyaci, Isaach De Bankolé, Emma de Caunes, Jean-Philippe Écoffey, Nicolas Le Riche, Anne Alvaro, Françoise Lebrun
Studio Lionsgate
MPAA rating PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.
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Format: DVD
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 Céline 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-Josée 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'.
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"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.
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