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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Scaphandre et le papillon, Le)
4 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Julian Schnabel

Written By:
Ronald Harwood, Jean-Dominique Bauby

Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josée Croze, Niels Arestrup, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Max von Sydow, Isaach de Bankole, Emma de Caunes, Gérard Watkins, Anne Alvaro, Françoise Lebrun, Zinedine Soualem, Michael Wincott, Jean-Philippe Écoffey, Marina Hands, Anne Consigny, Farida Khelfa, Lenny Kravitz, Patrick Chesnais, Olatz Lopez Garmendia, Nicolas Le Riche, François Delaive, Agathe de La Fontaine, Franck Victor, Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, Théo Sampaio, Fiorella Campanella, Georges Roche, Yves-Marie Coppin, Virginie Delmotte, Daniel Lapostolle, Philippe Roux, François Filloux, Elvis Polanski, Cedric Brelet von Sydow, Sara Séguéla, Marie Meyer, Anna Chyzh, Antoine Bréant, Jean-Baptiste Mondino, Talina Boyaci, Vasile Negru, Ilze Bajare, Azzedine Alaïa

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Scaphandre et le papillon, Le) (2007)
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Movie Review by Zara
May 10th, 2008

Let's be REAL honest here, as you know that I'm not particularly capable of doing anything else.

When you get down to the core of this film, the real heart of it, it is the story which is 5 star. The former editor of the fashion magazine Elle has a massive stroke is sunk into a 3 month coma. When he wakes up from it, his brain is fully functional. He hears and understands everything that is going on around him. His memories are fully intact. All the things that doctors say don't happen after a person suffers a stroke. The problem is that his body is in what is referred to as "Locked-In Syndrome."

He can't move. Not his arms or legs. He can't move his head or even manage to move his tongue enough to swallow on his own. He is fed by a tube, has machines that help him breathe. He refers to himself as being trapped in a diving bell (those old-fashioned diving suits where you couldn't move in them). The only thing that he has movement over is his left eye. His right one is sewn shut by the doctors so that the cornea doesn't go septic.

With the help of diligent nurses and speech therapists and even the begrudging love of the mother of his three children (he never married her and was cheating on her with another woman), they devise a way for him to communicate through blinking that one eye. The repeat the letters of the alphabet in the order of the most to least frequently used. He goes on to write a book over the course of many years, all through the patience of people who really have no reason to love and support him as much as they do.

It's a great f*cking story. The reality of it. But the movie, shot in French, moves at the typical slow French speed. I realized that I wouldn't have had the patience to work with this man or deal with the laborious nature that it took for him to communicate. Maybe that fact actually makes the movie a good one, that it understands and puts into motion you the viewer knowing where he is and then trying to live at the slow pace that the stroke forced him into.

In either case, I was falling asleep toward the end of the film. The narration of the actor playing Bauby, in a lulling, deep French accent, just made me want to sleep. Even though I was interested in the story. But considering that prior to watching the movie, I'd already read about the story and knew what was going on, nothing introduced therein was new to me.

Make the decision for yourself whether or not this was a good movie. To me, I wasn't as impressed with the film as I was the material behind it.

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