The Diving Bell and the ButterflyDirector: Julian Schnabel
The astonishing true-life story of Jean-Dominic Bauby -- a man who held the world in his palm, lost everything to sudden paralysis at 43 years old, and somehow found the strength to rebound -- first touched the world in Bauby's best-selling autobiography The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (aka La Scaphandre et la Papillon), then in Jean-Jacques Beineix's half-hour 1997 documentary of Bauby at work, released under the same title, and, ten years after that, in this Cannes-selected docudrama, helmed by Julian Schnabel (Basquiat) and adapted from the memoir by Ronald Harwood (Cromwell). The Schnabel/Harwood picture follows Bauby's story to the letter -- 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 -- 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. In Schnabel's picture, Mathieu Amalric tackles the difficult role of Bauby; the film co-stars Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josée Croze, Anne Consigny, and Patrick Chesnais.
- Release Date:
- Original Release:
- [Wide Screen]
- Sales rank:
Cast & Crew
|Julian Schnabel||Director,Musical Direction/Supervision|
|Olivier Alonso||Makeup Special Effects|
|Olivier Beriot||Costumes/Costume Designer|
|Paul Cantelon||Score Composer|
|Francois-Xavier Decraene||Production Manager|
|Michel Eric||Art Director,Production Designer|
|Geoffrey Felley||Makeup Special Effects|
|Pierre Frunstein||Executive Producer|
|Dominique Gaborieau||Sound/Sound Designer|
|Leonard Glowinski||Associate Producer|
|Stephane Gluck||Asst. Director|
|Pierre Grunstein||Executive Producer|
|Gilbert "Berto" Lecluyse||Camera Operator|
|Jim Lemley||Executive Producer|
|Jean-Paul Mugel||Sound/Sound Designer|
|Laurent Ott||Production Designer,Set Decoration/Design|
|Chloé Van Lierde||Makeup|
|Francis Wargnier||Sound/Sound Designer|
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
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'. The only faculties Jean-Do retains are his memory and his fantasies, and it is through the acting out of these that we discover the victim's private and secret life as well as his relationships to colleagues and lovers and family. He imagines the hospital where he is confined in the time of Nijinsky (Nicolas Le Riche) and Empress Eugénie (Emma de Caunes) and filters the realities of his life through the interactions with his comrades Laurent (Isaach De Bankolé) and others as well as vivid memories of his relationship with his father Papinou Bauby (Max von Sydow). With the patient assistance of the health providers, friends and family he is able to complete his memoir, the story of a man locked in a diving bell longing for the freedom of a butterfly, released form its cocoon. . Getting used to the film technique Schnabel uses takes patience, but for those who are willing to accept the pace of the film, rich with fantasy and historical sequences, the impact is not only compelling but breathtaking. This telling of a true story is a fine work from all concerned and for this viewer it is one of the best films of recent years. Grady Harp
Its a beautiful movie. It shows a different perspective on life and the ability of the human spirit.
The movie "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is a powerful story based on the memoir of Jean-Dominique Bauby. The book is told from Bauby's view, and Bauby has "locked in" syndrome (paralyzed to where he can't speak, eat, or communicate with anything other than his one eye. What makes his case unique is that Bauby decided to write this memoir while under this condition, communicating with only one eye to his translator. Because of this, the audience only gets one point of view of the story: Bauby's. The movie, however, not only gives the audience Bauby's view of his circumstance, but explores different points of view that can't be seen by the audience just reading the book. First of all, the movie does a great job of really exploring Bauby's point of view. For example, the movie opens with the camera angle from the view point of an eye opening. The audience realizes that they are in Bauby's shoes, and this really gives the audience a feel for Bauby's character throughout the entire movie. In addition to this angle, the movie does a great job with details and correctness. Every time Bauby is asked a question, the audience sees him blink once or twice to answer a yes or no question from this point of view. The details even go as far as showing the eye being sewn up from this angle. This unique camera angle is something that the book cannot do, and it is a helpful way to tell the story. In addition to the unique camera angles, the movie can tell the story from more than just Bauby's point of view. Many times, the audience gets a glimpse of other characters, including family members, which Bauby doesn't necessarily see. A key example of this is when the camera focuses on Bauby's father during their emotional phone call. From Bauby's point of view, he can't necessarily see the emotions that his father expresses, but his father's true emotions can be seen, however, with a camera. With this sort of freedom, the camera can tell more of a story than solely from Bauby's point of view. While the movie does do a great job of following the memoir, it also adds to the story by stepping back from Bauby's point of view and exploring the emotions and actions of the other characters more. Finally, the movie complements the themes of the memoir by dispersing special images throughout the movie. These include the frequent image of the diver with his diving bell, the butterflies in the flowers, and the glacier falling into the water. Throughout the novel, Bauby feels trapped in his own body-the diving bell-but his mind is able to fly free like a butterfly. The movie is able to remind the audience of these themes by strategically placing these visual images into the movie. The director places the images the diving bell or the butterfly at points in the story where Bauby feels especially trapped or free. On top of these pretty concrete themes, the movie includes images of ice from a glacier falling into the water. This image can be left up to the viewer to interpret, and the movie puts a spin on this image by reversing the falling ice at the very end of the movie. Overall, I believe the movie does an excellent job of not only accurately following the memoir of Bauby's "locked-in" syndrome, but it also complements the story by adding more images and details by exploring other characters that Bauby doesn't always see from his point of view. This movie really takes advantage of telling a completely unique and moving story.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Very seldom are movies ever made, where almost the whole majority of the cinema is in first person view. In "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", the audience follows the life of Jean Dominique-Bauby. This is very peculiar because Bauby is not able to talk or move any part of his body, except his left eye, because at the age of 42 he suffered an astronomical stroke. The beauty of modern medicine was the only thing that kept him alive, but at the costly tax of leaving him in "locked in" syndrome. He is literally paralyzed from head to toe, with only his left eye able to move. This left eye is his way of communicating with the outside world. The movie follows the struggle of Bauby until his death, a couple of years after his stroke. Bauby was the editor in chief of the French fashion magazine, Elle, which allowed him to live a high life that included wealth and notoriety. The movie portrays this very well, by showing him working at photo shoots, driving fancy new cars, and him getting women throughout. The director is able to show this to the audience, even though Bauby is not able to do anything, by showing the memories that Bauby conjured up when he was bed ridden. This allows the audience to really come full circle with the character and understand everything that he has gone through. The movie is simply spectacular! Never would I normally cherish a movie that revolved around a man who couldn't even move, but the way it was made kept the audience intrigued the whole time. People might call the movie "trippy" because of the first person view, and the fact that the screen goes in and out of focus due to Jean Bauby only being able to see out of his left eye. Conversations can take place between Bauby and whoever, and more times than not the screen is taken up by someone's foot, face, chest, or maybe they aren't even in it. This can be weird for the first couple scenes, but as the movie goes along you get used to sometimes not being able to see the person talking. Eventually it can get to the point where it's extremely interesting to see where and how the conversation is going. One of the more chilling parts of the movie was when Bauby's right eye is sewn shut. The camera seems to be placed inside the eyeball. Slowly but surely, with each stitch, we see less and less light and eventually complete darkness. This whole process was very surreal, and most peoples' faces twinge up when they see it. The cinematography is what makes the movie entertaining, and allowed it to be nominated for many different awards around the world. Yes, it's a beautifully constructed film, but the themes and lessons that come out of it are just as worthy of awards. Through the whole process of Bauby's struggle, he realizes how important family is. He wishes all the time that he could spend more time with his children, and he wished he could have spent more time with them. Another theme is about not giving up. There was a scene where Bauby and the speech therapist (Henriette Roi) were communicating through the system of blinking that she created, and he grew so frustrated with it, that he told her he wished to die. This infuriated her because she cared about him, and she wanted to see him keep on fighting. Bauby later apologized and began to see that he could make the best of his life. He said, "I decided to stop pitying myself. Other than my eye, two things aren't paralyzed, my imagination and my memory." This was
Movies that are based off of novels can be hit or miss. Most in which, either try to hard or don't do enough to fit the novel's plot. Naturally, you are taking a gamble every time you decide to watch these types of movies. So let me save you the frustration and waste of time, and advise you on what I think is a very well produced movie, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." This movie's plot is structured around a man, Jean Dominique Bauby, who suffers a major stock that changed his life forever. The stroke left him paralyzed from the neck down, prohibiting him to be able to move or speak. In fact, the only way he is able to communicate with the rest of the world is by blinking his left eye. This misfortunate accident leads Bauby threw a series of difficult events, that takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. Bauby illustrates his discontent and imaginative experiences that he wishes to encounter; he is forced to watch his once promising life wither before his eye. The movie allows the audience to see Bauby's life, inside and out. As the story unfolds, his present life slowly digresses to his past, in which shows you who Bauby really was before he became impaired. After a couple of flash back, you begin to feel the waves of emotion that gives, the viewers, the ups and downs of the rollercoaster effect. For instance, you can experience a warm and happy feeling one moment and then seconds later completely feel the exact opposite. This constant transition of feeling, always keeps you waiting on the edges of your seat. In my opinion, I think that this movie focuses on a specific type of viewer. If you are looking for inspiring movies that will make you want to change your life, then this movie is perfect. However if you do not like slow and methodical movies, then I strongly advise you not watch this movie. Over all, I believe that it this movie goes along with the plot of the book very well and would give it a 7 on a 1-10 scale.
This movie left me wondering "why was this story made into a movie?" It had been recommended however, the subject seemed to intensely dislike women, appeared to avoid his father emotionally. The fact that he felt he could write this story and then die, while interesting, makes one feel that this wasn't a heroic example of humanity.