The Diving Bell and the Butterfly {Le scaphandre et le papillon}

Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Why Watch It: For the simple narrative. For the inspiring story of a paralyzed man who writes an entire book by blinking. For the direction of Julian Schnabel which coveys the daily struggle of the protagonist. For the interesting viewpoint of the camera often giving us the protagonist view of the world , and sometimes showing him from the outside. For the acting of Mathieu Amalric.

Warning: Plot spoilers ahead

Story: Jean-Dominique Bauby emerges from coma in a hospital after a massive heart-attack. However he finds that he can’t move. Doctors discover that he is paralyzed that only one of his eyes is operational, and {in an unsettling scene} sew up the eyelids of the dead eye.

Jean, who was the editor of fashion magazine Elle, learns to find contentment in the two things that he can do — narrate a story and blink his eye. Using eye blinking as a method, he is able to get a helper to write down an entire book. Under this method, the helper has to recite slowly the letters of the alphabet and when the editor blinks the helper stops and confirms the letter — the “yes” or “no” indicated again by blinking. The letter is written down and one by one the letters are put together to form words. These in turn form sentences, which convey the story in his book. {The tiring nature of blinking to convey is depicted beautifully by the first-person point-of-view camera work in the early scenes}

As he writes the book, Jean conveys his thoughts, emotions and sheds light on the relationships, experiences of his past and present. Jean’s friends and family rally around him, and he completes his book. Tragically, he dies of pneumonia just after his book is released.

Rating: 5 Out of 5 for the storyline, first-person point-of-view camera work used in many scenes, direction, and acting.

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