Monday, February 23, 2009

Le Scaphandre et le Papillon

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Well I just recently watched the Diving Bell and the Butterfly after a bunch of my friends and one of my teachers told me it was a great film, and im still sorting through it in my head!

It's FRENCH! And it has Subtitles! Surprisingly, hearing those two things excited me as the movie started. I hope you can deal with that!

The movie was about a man named Jean Dominique Bauby, a posh, powerful, man who spent more time working for his job at French Vogue, and less time with his children and their mother. Jean Dominique, also called Jean-Do, has his world radically changed when after suffering a massive stroke, Jean-Do becomes paralyzed all over his body, except his right eye. Right eye!!! Blurry eyed and confused, Jean-Do wakes up in a hospital surrounded by doctors who promise to do all they can to help Mr. Bauby cope with his “locked in” syndrome. With the assistance of two sympathetic, beautiful nurses, an intelligent doctor, and the unrequited love of his children’s mother, Jean-Do must learn to get past his depression, anger, pride, and the state of his body to follow his dreams, find his imagination, and write the book he’s always wanted to.

The movie opens from the perspective of Jean-Do as his eyes try to focus on the images in the hospital room. Jean Do is confused, as he has no idea where he is, or what is going on. This scene was hard for me to watch, as the constant movement and shifting focus of the camera made me feel absolutely sick! That being said, I felt like it was an incredibly imaginative way of expressing the state of Jean-Do’s body. The entire film was skillfully and artistically shot and the beauty of each scene made me not want to turn away from the screen. Each character was lovable and attractive and so I cared about their lives and took interest in their problems.

The movie was a bit rough to watch as it was a very up close view of a terrible condition. When Jean-Do’s image of himself, a man trapped in a deep-sea diving suit was shown, I felt like I was submerged and experiencing the same dreadful feeling. It was hard to watch because seeing the pain of Jean Do as he saw his life slip away and the sadness of his children’s mother as he constantly rejected her was heart breaking. Although Jean Do was a

bit of a pig at first, viewers had an instant attraction to him; he was funny, smooth and had a way with the ladies even with drool dripping down his hanging lip. After Jean Do defeats the odds and publishes his amazing book, he falls ill and suddenly dies. It was an ending I was not expecting. Usually, when I watch a movie, when a main character dies, the movie is going to have to work pretty hard to redeem itself for me, but after reflecting on the meaning of the story, I felt at peace with Jean-Do’s passing.

I enjoyed the way director, Julian Schnabel used lights and colors to evoke drama and emotion from a scene. Camera angles and positions were used to express feeling such as when a hand-held camera was held at a low angle to put viewers at the same level as Jean Do, or when the camera pulled back to a bird's eye view to illustrate the lonelyness of Jean-Do's position. The charecter of Jean Do (played by Mathieu Amalric) was originally supposed to be played by Johnny Depp! It would have been very interesting to see Depp's take on the charecter!

As depressing as some parts of the movie were, it was inspirational to see how a man who had so much could fall so hard, but still have the ability to pick himself up, inspire others, and do more than he would have, had he never been in the dreadful position.

I thought the movie was beautifully shot, and well thought out. It meticulously and sometimes humorously presents the bright, positive as well as the dark aspects of humanity. If you havent seen it yet, I think you should definitely go out to Blockbuster and rent it! When the movie was over, I was left contemplating what I would do in such a position. It was then that I prayed to God that I would never suffer a stroke!

LATER! Alex.


  1. Wow! What a great post. This is totally the BEST BLOG I HAVE EVER READ! Great job :)

  2. I love french films, as typical as it may sound, they all have such a romance through them- in the way of cinematography and style. You should also see Piaf for beautiful tragedy, like Diving Bell it is a true story.
    Nice blog!

  3. that sounds great! I'll def check that out!