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A gorgeous, innovative, and unique film.
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.
Wow. Let's just say first off, I had no context going into this film. I knew nothing about it so I didn't really have any expectations. However, it turned into something so powerful and so unique that it really became a memorable experience for me.
First off, I didn't realize this was a biopic. That's absolutely mental! This told the story of a man who lost everything that made him, him. He took that loss and at first, wanted to give up. But with the help of people around him, he realized he just wanted to live. We've seen stories like this before but not like this.
This film had gorgeous cinematography. It was blended so well with the story telling, as the camera really was it's own character. A lot of times, we were in the POV of the protagonist and it just felt so immersive. The entire film felt immersive and so real.
The story itself is very powerful. I know people might want to skip over this because it's a foreign film or it uses subtitles, but it's ultimately worth it in the end. I think there's some really beautiful themes in here that are so precious. It looks at the idea of life and death and what you do while you live. It's an emotional ride and oddly, a very relatable one at that.
The actors were also fantastic in this film. For me, I didn't recognize any of them but they all really carried their own weight. Each one brought a powerfully grounded performance and each of them got their moments to shine at one point or another.
In the end, I highly recommend this film, as I feel like it's flown under the radar in the film community.
A hard to watch, but ultimately life-affirming and uplifting movie, which tells us one more time to value what we have and not to despair in no circumstance. There's always hope and even where there is none you have the power of your thought and imagination.
A strong movie with incredible cast and powerful performances.
Great movie - depressing and harrowing yet uplifting.
After a stroke, Jean-Dominique Bauby is left paralysed from the neck down, unable to speak and blind in one eye. Then he writes his memoirs.
Amazing true story, very well told by director Julian Schnabel. Jean-Dominique Bauby's story is quite depressing and his ordeal quite harrowing. However, it is ultimately quite uplifting, as he overcame his massive physical impediments to connect to the people he loved and to write/dictate his memoirs.
This could easily have ended up as a dry biopic / docudrama, but thanks to Schnabel's ingenious direction, it isn't. Schnabel tells the story almost exclusively from Bauby's perspective. The majority of shots are from Bauby's point-of-view, helping the empathy and engagement enormously. You can feel what Bauby is going though, and it is far from pleasant.
Hello, all! Do you find yourself overly happy about your life? Been plagued by a bout of cheerfulness you can't stand? Could you stand to have your mood dropped to something less merry? Then do I have the movie for you! I used to think the most depressing, joy stomping movie ever made was the adaptation to Cormac McCarthy's The Road starring Viggo Mortensen. A new movie holds that spot for me now and it is The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is, first and foremost, an amazingly produced and directed film. I know nothing of French cinema but I was astounded by the writing, the acting, but most of all the camera work. For once, the 1st person POV worked in conveying how stifling, frustrating, and claustrophobic it can be to live in a body that does not work but still have your mind intact. The first 20 minutes alone make this movie impressive. The actual story is also impressive in that Jean-Dominic Bauby, through sheer force of will and with help, was able to dictate an entire memoir, letter by letter, while suffering from locked-in syndrome.
Therefore, the real issue is can the individual viewer handle this movie? It is not entertaining. What humor it has comes from Jean-Do's snark at dealing with his situation. It is not grueling, but it is a heavy movie. Its verisimilitude will trigger a lot of emotions inside the viewer. That's what it did for me. I know a lot of the blurbs for this film say it is uplifting and a triumph of the human spirit. That triumph is not so much uplifting as it is hard fought for. YMMV but for me, at the end, I just felt drained. It is not a movie to just watch casually, even if you like movies with similar subjects.
So who is this movie for? I highly recommend it to people who have friends or family who provide long term care to a loved one in a situation similar to Jean-Do Bauby's. I think many caregivers become invisible, sucked into the lives of those they care for. I also think those afflicted like Jean-Do also become objects; this movie allows us to see they are not. The movie shows how much these people go through. The main emotion one feels after watching this movie is empathy. I think the world could definitely use more of that because I don't really think one understands this world unless one has been in this world. Still, this is a difficult movie to sit through.
A couple of weeks ago I saw a presentation about consciousness that discussed "locked in syndrome" (a terrifying experience in which people are fully paralyzed yet fully conscious); the speaker mentioned this film based on a book dictated by a person with locked in syndrome using only eye blinks. So, I thought the film was going to be a documentary and that it was bound to be depressing. To my astonishment, director Julian Schnabel instead used actors to dramatize the book, told primarily with subjective camera shots from the one non-paralysed eye of Jean-Do Bauby, former editor of Elle magazine, played by Mathieu Amalric. We follow Bauby's journey and we hear his internal monologue as he realises he is paralyzed and as he slowly comes to terms with his plight. We marvel at the team of health professionals who find a way to communicate with him and his drive to document his experience in a book. The relationships with his ex-girlfriend (Emmanuelle Seigner), mother of his three children, and his current girlfriend, who is afraid to visit, as well as his 92-year-old father (Max von Sydow) and other friends are now filled with heightened emotions. Schnabel keeps things impressionistic and humanistic, showing Bauby's fantasies, his memories, his regrets. The film is almost experimental at times. You can't help but feel empathy...and horror; it makes you want to throw yourself into life and experience it to the fullest. Let's do it.
This is a really moving movie - if you're not moved or made upset by this then I'm not sure you're human! One reason I had to stop watching this and only continue watching a long while later was because it was so upsetting. It is a very good film though. I listened to the audio book many years previously which I rated really highly. I rate the film too, but prefer the book although they are both good for different reasons. The film often focuses on Dominic's one working eye, whose pupil is the only part of his body he can move and therefore communicate with since he has locked in syndrome. It is also filmed as if from his point of view, too, which works. You can really feel his emotions. In the book he comes across as more inspiring. I've read elsewhere that the film portrays him in a more negative light than the book he 'wrote', letter by letter via blinking. He died just a few days after his book, which the filmed was inspired by, being published.
Interesting but understandably slow.
A good story, fascinatingly told with some great camera work.
Most boring movie ever made. worst director.
A charismatic performance from Mathieu Amalric, deft direction, gorgeous cinematography and a brilliant script make the Diving Bell and the Butterfly a near perfect film.