Monday, June 9, 2008
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
PHENOMENAL: (Julian Schnabel) A truly emotional masterpiece, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is one of the few films to encase a realistic tone throughout beautiful and creative cinematography. From the beginning, as seen through the half paralyzed eyes of Elle editor, Jean-Dominique Bauby, the film is raw, candid and heartbreaking. Bauby, the former editor of Elle magazine in France, suffered a massive stroke while out for a drive with his son. After months in a coma, he awakes to complete paralysis, and only the use of his left eye. Through months of intense occupational therapy, he learns to communicate through a series of alphabetic blinks. With this string of communication, he lives his last year writing a novel blink for blink about the cage he lives in. He says, "I decided to stop pitying myself. Other than my eye, two things aren't paralyzed, my imagination and my memory." This attitude carries throughout the film, riding a roller coaster of emotion as he watches through tunnel vision as his children play on the beach, as friends come to visit, and as his father delivers a heartbreaking birthday goodbye via telephone. What exists as the most heartbreaking and unimaginable story to date for me is at the same time one of the most powerful films I have ever seen. Inspired by Bauby's determination to finish his life's novel and the absolutely spectacular filming, this true-story drew me in immediately and will be in my heart forever. Phenomenal performances credit Schanbel's direction, and extremely detailed writing brings an otherwise silent story to life. As a viewer, you get to see (and arguably feel) what Bauby does, and with his words to narrate us along the way, we are spared no frustration, no pain, and no remorse alongside him. Don't miss out on this film. It will forever remain in the top tier of my most memorable films.