New on DVD: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Posted: April 29, 2008 in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
Tags: , ,

The Diving Bell and the ButterflyAt first one wonders how the story of a man that can do nothing but blink one eye could be made accessible and watchable by an audience – but that is why Julian Schnabel received the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival.

Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric) was the director of Elle magazine in France; he was successful, rich and known around Paris. Then, at 42, he suffered a massive stroke that paralyzed his entire body except for one eye. He was diagnosed with locked-in syndrome. Rather than wallow in self-pity, Bauby chooses to embrace his condition and make the best of his time by fulfilling a book contract. Communicating through a series of blinks, Bauby dictates a novel containing thoughts about his life up to and after the stroke.

Realizing this is a difficult story to transfer to the screen, Schnabel brilliantly decided to tell the first 40 minutes from Bauby’s point of view. As a result, everyone acts toward a stationary camera that can only pan and tilt within a limited range. This forces the audience to identify with Bauby in a way that would not have been otherwise possible; without this identification, one could not truly understand his triumph.

The “making of” documentary sheds some light on how the point of view of a paralyzed man was captured, highlighting the work of cinematographer Janusz Kaminski. On the other hand, the Charlie Rose interview is somewhat annoying – mostly because Rose constantly interrupts Schnabel. Finally, the director commentary provides little insight.

However, despite their presence, this DVD is more about the inspired film than the supplements.

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Comments
  1. Mary Gay says:

    I loved “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”, but the movie I’d rather see is “My Stroke of Insight”, which is the amazing bestselling book by Dr Jill Bolte Taylor. It is an incredible story and there’s a happy ending. She was a 37 year old Harvard brain scientist who had a stroke in the left half of her brain. The story is about how she fully recovered, what she learned and experienced, and it teaches a lot about how to live a better life. Her TEDTalk at TED dot com is fantastic too. It’s been spread online millions of times and you’ll see why!

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