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April 29, 2008

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DVD of the Week – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

by RISHI AGRAWAL

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, a French film by American director Julian Schnabel, is based on the memoir of Jean-Dominique Bauby, former editor of French Elle magazine. Bauby, after suffering a stroke, is left paralyzed except for one eyelid, though he remains fully cognizant. By developing a system of blinking, Bauby is able to write his memoir one letter at a time.

The most remarkable thing about the film is that Bauby’s character grows throughout the film, though his medical condition remains unchanged. The film can feel extremely claustrophobic at times, especially when the camera films from Bauby’s perspective through his one good eye, but towards the end, the film becomes more expansive and inspirational. But, if all we got was the inspirational message, the film would become overly sentimental. Instead, the film is peppered with Bauby’s inner monologue, which is witty, intelligent, and self-deprecating.

Though the film was nominated for four Oscars (Directing, Editing, Screenplay and Cinematography), this was not a film that really received the attention it deserved. But now that it is available on DVD, it’s a good chance to check it out. Unfortunately, the film comes with no special features.

Other new releases this week: 27 Dresses, The Golden Compass, How She Move, King Corn, Nanking


3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tom Nixon
    Apr 29 2008

    Damn good film that, lived up to expectations and then some. The droll sense of humour made it for me, so surprising and relatable, usually (not always) stopped it falling into the sentimentality trap. Cinematography’s gorgeous too.

  2. Geoff
    May 2 2008

    A fine film. I thought it resisted the temptation to overplay any one particular moment/memory for Bauby, and as a result, the film’s shifting emotional state manages to be moving without ever feeling cloying.

  3. T.J. Anderson
    Jun 12 2008

    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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