The Diving Bell And The Butterfly

Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
The cover is not a fair representation of the movie. It’s nice, but it’s like the person who made it didn’t actually watch the movie or even read the book. The menu fits the style of the opening sequence, so that’s cool. It is a somewhat independent style film so

Features: 8/10

  • Submerged The Making Of The Diving Bell & The Butterfly – This is a docu-extra. You like that? I just made it up. It’s following the director and cast around during filming. There are interviews and a lot of information about the true story and book that inspired the movie.
  • A Cinematic Vision – How did they make the movie look like it is from the point of view of a man who is paralyzed, completely, with the exception of his left eye? This is the extra for filmmakers and curiosity seekers alike. It’s an excellent look at a movie being made that has no fancy CGI, but instead use in-camera effects and techniques to make the movie so stunning.
  • Audio Commentary With Director Julian Schnabel – Schnabel is an artist, composer, filmmaker, so his views and the way he discusses making the movie is unique.
  • Charlie Rose Interviews Julian Schnabel – A typical Charlie interview. Good, not amazing. If you like Rose or you appreciate the artsy director type, you’re gonna like this interview.

Movie: 10/10
I love this film. Thanks for coming everyone, have a great night!

Oh, that’s not enough of a review for you people? Fine. What you are about to read will be laced with slobbering praise and unbridled gushing. It isn’t fair to say it’s rare to find a film that thrills me, but it isn’t common enough. I have loved movies since I was just a little kid. I have mentioned before that I used to sneak into the family room, turn on the TV at one in the morning and turn the volume down so low I had to push my ear to the speaker and watch movies out the corner of my eye. Movies like Helter Skelter, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Rebecca, Pit and the Pendulum, and anything with a werewolf, vampire, Frankenstein monster..etc. I’m not sure why I was drawn to the creepy stuff, but it really did grown into an overall love affair with movies.

Oh, that phrase is so obnoxious, “love affair with movies”, but that’s pretty accurate. A movie like The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, well, it gives me that wonderful satisfaction, a certain thrill that completely captivates me. From the first moment of seeing life through one eye of the lead character, to the beautifully done flashbacks and elements of pure fantasy, I felt THAT feeling. I can’t describe it adequately, so either you understand what I mean, or you don’t.

A man, Jean-Dominique Bauby, is stricken with Locked-In Syndrome. It’s a condition caused by a massive stroke that results in your entire body being paralyzed. It’s a real thing. Look it up. In this case it happens to  the editor of French Elle magazine. He’s a mover and shaker, a bon vivant, a playboy of sorts. We also learn through the beautiful script and performances that he has recently left his children and girlfriend for a new woman. He’s a modern anti-hero, if it’s fair to apply movie terms to a real person that is.

There are moments of being uncomfortable. We are seeing things from his point of view, so when people ignore, dismiss, wash, and do medical procedures on Jean-Do, we are him and I had a heartfelt compassion that I don’t have very often. I have taken care of a person who can’t take care of themselves, and it’s almost overwhelming to think of the whole situation through their eyes. That’s the sign of a great filmmaker, when I feel so connected to the character through the use of camera placement and their home-grown effects. It’s a sensibility that goes beyond other attempts to put is in the place of a character who has some kind of physical limitations.

The stroke leaves him helpless. Everything is stripped away except his ability to blink one eye. It’s a true true story. I’m saying it twice for reason. The leading character was a real man who lived this life, and the movie is based on the book he wrote AFTER the stroke. He wrote the book one letter at a time, by blinking his eye and having his thoughts transcribed for him. Left at the mercy of others, he has nothing but time to contemplate his life, his choices, what it is to be human, what it is to be alive. The amazing thing about this movie is that the sense of of helplessness that is so well crafted through the camera work, the acting, the dialogue, the inner dialogue of Jean-Do, melts away and it becomes incredibly positive, even uplifting.

Not only is it a gorgeous movie, with some stunning shots, artfully crafted by the director, it does the thing we all try to resist. It made me think about life, about my own perspective, my own whining and negativity about things that hold me back. No ache or pain or minor inconvenience will ever seem quite so significant again.

Value: 6/10
I want to say this DVD is a straight up 10 10 10 10 in the score department. The movie deserves every ounce of praise I can muster with my tippity typing. However, as a packaged deal the DVD doesn’t top the scale of happiness. The price is, as most DVD’s, too high. The cover isn’t amazing. The extras are good, not fantastic. So, I would still like to see the price to be set for less than the current 23 bucks online. I would still buy it, keep it, watch it, love it, swoon over it, always and forever, regardless of the price.

Overall Score 9/10