Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rewind Volume 1: The Diving Bell and The Butterfly

With "Rewind" I'll review movies that have come out in past years that I missed out on.

Release: March 2007 (France) 2008 (U.S.)

Director by Julian Schnabel

Written By Jean Dominique Bauby (Memoir)
Ronald Harwood (Screenplay)

Starring Mathieu Amalric

Based of the memoir by Jean Dominique Bauby, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly tells the true life story of Jean, after awakening out of a three week coma from a stroke. He finds out he has locked-in syndrome, which paralyzes his entire body except for his one functioning eye, which he communicates with by blinking. For writing the memoir Jean had to blink for each letter of each word, adding up to almost 200,000 blinks to complete the book.
The first forty minutes of the film is shot in the first person perspective, with Jean either lying in the hospital bed or in a wheel chair. Jeans thoughts are voiced over and the actors are right in front of the camera. This is one of the most effective filmmaking seen. The audience is one with Jean, they see what he sees, they hear his thoughts. His disorientation, his frustration, his sadness, and his anger are felt by the veiwer. What makes it so beleiveable and powerful is the supurb acting. They are right in your face and the only thing you see. Without their spot on performances the movie itself would fail.
Jean does come to termss with his new life, and he becomes grateful for the things he does have control over; his eye, his imagination, and his memories. As the movie progresses there are flashbacks to his past life when he was a journalist. There are also scenes from his imagination, like going on a romantic date with one of his care takers, stuffing himself fat with all sorts of delicious food that he will never again be able to eat. Hence the name of the title, the diving bell, his own body that he is forever trapped in, and the butterfly, which is his conscience mind and imagination, free to go whereever he wants.
The film is simple and beautiful. Despairing and yet uplifting. It is an emotional tour de force that shows the triumph of a man limited to his hospital bed. For anyone who hasn't yet, check it out.

4 1/2 out of 5 Stars

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