36147

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

2007 Biography

The astonishing true-life story of Jean-Dominic Bauby -- a man who held the world in his palm, lost everything to sudden paralysis at 43 years old, and somehow found the strength to rebound -- first touched the world in Bauby's best-selling autobiography The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (aka La Scaphandre et la Papillon), then in Jean-Jacques Beineix's half-hour 1997 documentary of Bauby at work, released under the same title, and, ten years after that, in this Cannes-selected docudrama, helmed by Julian Schnabel (Basquiat) and adapted from the memoir by Ronald Harwood (Cromwell). The Schnabel/Harwood picture follows Bauby's story to the letter -- his instantaneous descent from a wealthy and congenial playboy and the editor of French Elle, to a bed-bound, hospitalized stroke victim with an inactive brain stem that made it impossible for him to speak or move a muscle of his body. This prison, as it were, became a kind of "diving bell" for Bauby -- one with no means of escape. With the editor's mind unaffected, his only solace lay in the "butterfly" of his seemingly depthless fantasies and memories. Because of Bauby's physical restriction, he only possessed one channel for communication with the outside world: ocular activity. By moving his eyes and blinking, he not only began to interact again with the world around him, but -- astonishingly -- authored the said memoir via a code used to signify specific letters of the alphabet. In Schnabel's picture, Mathieu Amalric tackles the difficult role of Bauby; the film co-stars Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josée Croze, Anne Consigny, and Patrick Chesnais. more..

Director: Julian Schnabel

Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Max von Sydow, Marie-Josee Croze

Reviews

  • At the end we are left with the reflection that human consciousness is the great miracle of evolution, and all the rest (sight, sound, taste, hearing, smell, touch) are simply a toolbox that consciousness has supplied for itself.

    Roger Ebert - The Chicago Sun-Times

    27 May 2013

  • The movie has done what those who've cherished the book might have thought impossible -- intensified its singular beauty by roving as free and fearlessly as Bauby's mind did.

    Joe Morgenstern - The Wall Street Journal

    27 May 2013

  • Director Julian Schnabel and screenwriter Ronald Harwood have performed a small miracle in adapting for the screen Jean-Dominique Bauby's autobiography The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

    Ray Bennett - The Hollywood Reporter

    27 May 2013

  • It is wonderful: a rhapsodic adaptation of a memoir, a visual marvel that wraps its subject in screen romanticism without romanticizing his affliction. It left me feeling euphoric.

    Michael Phillips - The Chicago Tribune

    27 May 2013

  • The most beautiful movie ever made about a man who could only move one eyelid -- almost dangerously beautiful.

    Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly

    27 May 2013

Awards

  • Movie of the Year

    AFI Awards (2008)

  • Best Feature Film

    AFI Fest (2007)

  • Best Achievement in Cinematography

    Academy Awards (2008)

     
  • Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases

    American Society of Cinematographers (2008)

     
  • Best Foreign Film, Not in the Spanish Language (Mejor Película Extranjera)

    Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards (2009)