DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY, THE: DVD
He regains consciousness in a haze and realizes he's in a hospital. While unable to move or even speak, Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric) hears all too well what the doctors are saying: he's had a stroke and is now suffering locked-in syndrome, a condition so rare that medical science cannot understand it. The 43 year old, successful and charismatic (but divorced) editor of French Elle, is at the peak of his career. It was during a drive in his flash new convertible with his oldest son, that he suffered the stroke. As Jean-Do comes to grips with his new life inside what sometimes feels like a diving bell under the sea, he begins to use the unaffected part of his humanity: his imagination, which floats like a butterfly across an interior world he has to create for himself. Deep inside, he comes across memories and emotions that are woven into his life. To communicate, he learns, painfully slowly, to blink his one remaining eye once for 'yes' and twice for 'no' - and perseveres enough to turn his story into a book.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Julian Schnabel won the Best Director Award at Cannes (2007) for this film, and rightly so. The film is a unique visualisation, in which the tools of cinema are used to the max in bringing us a complex and complete visceral experience. It's an insight into human experience through a man who is locked in his body, fully aware and sentient, but unable to communicate. A terrible torture, especially for a man of words. Schnabel, a painter, has applied his artistic aesthetic to making this film, pushing cinematographer Janusz Kaminski into extremes. Like the pov from Bauby's right eye when the lid is being sown up to prevent it becoming diseased.
The film's structure is also effective, beginning with Bauby's gaining consciousness, then moving forward in time, but interrupted by flashbacks to emotionally engaging moments in his relationship with his ex wife, his ageing father and his children. We see a lot of the early part of the film from his limited window to the world, a point of view made up of images in soft focus, shifting colours.....
Mathieu Amalric makes the most of the challenges he faces in capturing the lively, able bodied Bauby, as well as the bedridden invalid who has to somehow cope with a disability that comes with extraordinary frustrations. And for much of the time, he has one eye to act with. It's a searing, moving and haunting performance which transcends simple acting tricks to wholly morph into the character. Maginificent support from the three women around him - Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josee Croze, Anne Consigny - and from Max von Sydow as Dauby's father, in some of the film's most heartbreaking scenes.
Unutterably sad though it is, the film glows with Bauby's self revelation of the possibilities of creating an inner life when you are shut off from the outer one. Reminiscent in subject matter and themes to The Sea Inside, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly is a serious piece of cinema for the connoisseur.
DVD special features include an audio commentary and two featurettes including the making of the film.
Published August 27, 2008
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DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY, THE: DVD (M)
Scaphandre et le papillon, Le
CAST: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josee Croze, Anne Consigny, Patrick Chesnais, Niels Arestrup, Olets Lopez Garmendia, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Marina Hands, Max Von Sydow, Isaac De Bankolee, Emma de Caunes
PRODUCER: Kathleen Kennedy, John Kilik
DIRECTOR: Julian Schnabel
SCRIPT: Ronald Harwood (book by Jean-Dominique Bauby)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Janusz Kaminski
EDITOR: Juliette Welfling
MUSIC: Paul Cantelon
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michel Eric, Laurent Ott
RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 14, 2008
SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary[BREAK]Submerged - the making of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly[BREAK]Cinematic Vision - featurette
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
DVD RELEASE: August 27, 2008