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The Diving Bell And The Butterfly

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The Diving Bell And The Butterfly - 16/2/2008 5:17:01 PM   
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DIVING BELL IS AMAZING - 16/2/2008 5:17:01 PM   

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To make a film about a man trapped in his body and not only make it work, but turn it into one of the most memorable films ever, is nothing short of genius . Opening with an extended blurry point-of-view sequence (about twenty minutes or so) was a brave move; unable to speak, we hear Bauby's (Almaric) confused thoughts as he first tries to get a grip on what's happening, and then his realisation of the private hell he'll be subjected to. To make matters worse (and where this manages to find humour even in the darkest of places) his speech and physical therapists are attractive women. Not only does this long sequence allow us inside the man, but we become him - we are trapped in that hospital bed, too . Brilliant.

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RE: DIVING BELL IS AMAZING - 16/2/2008 10:51:01 PM   
Groovy Mule


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I had put off seeing this film as I had been concerned that a film about a man suffering from locked-in syndrome dictating his memoirs by blinking his eye would be mawkish, overly sentimental and frankly dull.  How wrong I was!  The film was one of the most inventive and intelligent films I have seen in recent years.

Ronald Harwood's script is fundamental to the success of this film.  His decision to tell the story from Jean-Dominique Bauby's perspective is inspired and works like a charm.  We get to hear Jean-Do's inner monologue which remains as lucid as ever despite his health problems.  Equally impressive is the direction of Julian Schnabel which works to give us Jean-Do's perspective and creates interest in the flashback sequence.

On the acting front, Mathieu Almaric is given something of a thankless task as he has very little to do (obviously) although his delivery of inner monologue moments conveys Jean-Do's thoughts expertly.  More impressive are the performances of Max Von Sydow and Marie-Josee Croze.  Von Sydow is note perfect and oh-so heartbreaking as Bauby Snr and Croze makes reading the alphabet in French more interesting and (dare I say) sexy than I ever thought possible.

If I had a criticism of this film, it would be that the flashback sequences, which should by definition be more exciting and diverting than the awful present that Jean-Do faces slow the pace of the film and make you long for the contemporary scenes in the hospital again.  But this is a small criticism when you consider how good the rest of the film is.

Please seek out this gem of a film, it will be worth your while.



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Post #: 3
RE: DIVING BELL IS AMAZING - 17/2/2008 7:50:28 PM   

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From: Manchesterford
I bought the book on which this film is based at Fopp in Nottingham yesterday and read over half of it while waiting for my friend to arrive for a night out. The book is amazing and then I saw the film this afternoon... It's a beautiful film that is incredibly moving. Schnabel has changed the order of the book but it works so well. I really can not recommend this film highly enough - I would go as far to say that it will probably be the best film of 2008, because the quality of it is so high. It had me in tears by the end and is one of those rare films that truly makes you appreciate your lot in life.


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re: diving bell is amazing - 21/2/2008 12:14:50 AM   


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100% in agreeance with all who have written so far. amazing film, remarkably touching and vivid. have not felt as engrossed in a film in a long time. Definitely the best foreign film i have ever seen and definitely in my top 5 ever - it brings you back to earth, makes you realise how lucky you are and how important it is to appreciate every day. An experience not to forget and one that leaves you pondering for days, not minutes, after it has finished. Odd to see empire only gave it 4 stars!

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Post #: 5
Truly captivating experience! - 25/2/2008 5:55:35 PM   

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From: Sin City
Saw it last saturday and thought it was magnificent.
These are my thoughts:

Everything that I will write about this film will do no justice to it. You just have to this.

This is the emotionally gripping, based on true events story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor of fashion magazine Elle. When he becomes fully paralysed (except for one eye) after a stroke, he needs to learn everything all over again, including communicating. Together with the hospital crew he learns to communicate by blinking his eye. That way he learns how to make words and sentences and eventually "write" a book using this method.

The story itself is quite remarkable as it is, but that isn`t were the big power of this film lies in. That is in the direction. Julian Schnabel has chosen a way of filming that gives you a perfect sense of how it must be to be paralysed. It gives a very claustrophobic feel that is maintained trough the biggest part of the film.

The colours used and the editing are a true delight to watch. It has something avant-garde to it.
The acting is fenomenal. Mathieu Amalric in the part of Bauby is really fantastic.
The film also gives you something to think about. What is the real value of life when you`re in a situation like this?

It surely isn`t stuff that can be taken lightly but if you`re open to it, you have a fantastic experience.
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly proves that cinema can still beautiful, girpping and visually challenging. Something that we doubt more and more these days.
Nothing short of a cinema masterpiece that will haunt you long after you`ve seen it.


< Message edited by TheGodfather -- 25/2/2008 6:00:49 PM >

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Post #: 6
- 8/3/2008 2:08:39 AM   


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Proper fucking cinema

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Post #: 7
RE: The Diving Bell And The Butterfly - 22/3/2008 3:51:55 PM   


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Director: Julian Schnabel
Screenwriter: Ronald Harwood
Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josée Croze, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Max von Sydow

Based on the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby (Amalric), the late editor of Elle Magazine who suffered a stroke, which lead him with an totally paralyzed body; except for his left eye.

During the time when Jean-Dominique Bauby had locked-in syndrome, he decided to write a memoir of his entire life. With the help of an amanuensis repeatedly recited a frequency-ordered alphabet (E, L, A, O, I, N, S, D ...), it took two hundred and thousand blinks to complete his book. Ten days after it was published in March, 1997, Jean-Dominique Bauby died.

Originally a script in English, written by Ronald Harwood, the film's director Julian Schnabel convinced the studio, Pathé, to change the language to French to stay true to Bauby's life and story. A very good decision. Harwood's screenplay starts with the awakening of a paralyzed Bauby, in which he discovers his extreme condition. Collaborating with Schnabel, the first ten to fifteen minutes are visually haunting, in which the camera is representing Bauby's eyesight.

This is one of those films that have to work through its direction and screenwriting, because this is one man's life that is challenging to portray. After its haunting prologue that I've explained, the film does get slightly happier, in which we explore his past (where you'll notice a cameo by Michael Wincott) and best of all, his imagination. Through out the film, we get to see a much more pleasant side of Bauby in his mind, where he can snog with any woman and eat like a slob in a fine restaurant. When I say the film chronicles Bauby's life, I mean from life to death, because what expression will you make? You find out.

Winning the award for 'Best Director' at the Cannes Film Festival last year, this is truly Julian Schnabel's film. For his third feature, after Basquiat and Before Night Falls, Schnabel gets to work with Spielberg's cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, in which the both have a powerful collaboration. Through the left eye of Bauby, we see the stunning visuals that have this blurry quality to create the actual function of an eye, while the final touches of those silent sequences are in the hands of a cameraman.

When the director decided to adapt the late Bauby's novel, the role of the author himself was originally given to Johnny Depp, but due to his time as Captain Jack Sparrow, he wasn't able to do it. The replacement for Depp, was Mathieu Amalric, who really has the same type of physical acting that Depp has. He plays wonderfully the two sides of Jean-Dominique Bauby, and should be recognised now to western audiences.

The two lead actresses, Emmanuelle Seigner and Marie-Josée Croze spend most of their time interacting with the camera, and but for some reason, you get that feel that Amalric was there. This creates an odd, but powerful chemistry. Another strong performance to take note of, is Max von Sydow as Bauby's father Papinou. There is a powerful scene during the last act of the film, in which he talks to his paralyzed son through the phone, it is one of the most tear-jerking moments in cinema.

Haunting visuals and dynamic performances make this a biopic a powerful tribute to the late author.   

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Post #: 8
- 13/4/2008 9:24:36 PM   

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A really heartbreaking, bold, beautiful and moving picture. Amazing. One of the best foreign films I've ever seen.

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Post #: 9
Moving Diving Bell - 3/7/2008 12:20:59 AM   

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From: USA
A brilliant, life affirming movie. Well written, acted, and directed. Good have been contrived but is instead a moving, realistic portrait of stroke victims.

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Post #: 10
RE: Moving Diving Bell - 18/7/2008 10:15:08 AM   


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A moving and inspiring account of one man's experience with the horror of "locked-in syndrome". Director Schnabel and screenwriter Harwood do a splendid job of externalising and visualising Bauby's inner monologue, whislt Almaric invests the character with dignity and spirit. Excellent, thought-provoking cinema. (8/10)


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RE: Moving Diving Bell - 16/9/2008 4:54:48 PM   

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Wow... A truly amazing film. It is in places heartbreaking, as you would expect from the subject matter, yet also manages to have moments of hilarity and joy. As has been said it is a film to inspire and make you realise how great life really is.
5/5 from me.

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Post #: 12
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly - 5/10/2008 11:12:09 PM   

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From: London
The only film of Schnabel's I'd seen prior to this was Basquiat which I found totally self-indulgent and absolutely hated, but I found this to be amazing, several leagues ahead of Basquiat in every way.

The cast were uniformly excellent, hopefully after Quantum Of Solace Mathieu Amalric will finally become a star of the stature he deserves, more than honourable mentions to Emanuelle Seigner and Max Von Sydow as well (and Marlon Brando ).

Janusz Kaminski's cinematography really stood out, even making Berck-Sur-Mer almost seem like the Cote D'Azur, combined with the editing and excellent use of sound and music it all ads up to an amazing film, which thankfully doesn't get over sentimental at any point.


'Think about the future.'

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Post #: 13
RE: The Diving Bell And The Butterfly - 12/1/2009 10:12:46 AM   
pete c

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Saw this earlier and what a brilliant piece of work it is.

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Post #: 14
RE: The Diving Bell And The Butterfly - 12/1/2009 10:47:19 AM   


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This is an absolutely amazing and brilliant film, highly recommended to watch. The book is very beautiful too.


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Post #: 15
RE: The Diving Bell And The Butterfly - 12/1/2009 3:37:02 PM   

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I travelled around 50 miles to see this film and I was not disappointed! The cinematography was stunning and the story of Jean-Dominique Bauby was very tragic come the end. Despite this I came out feeling inspired to make more of life, I think that is the message of the film.


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- 8/2/2009 10:14:14 PM   
shawshank prisoner

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From: Norwich
think i should probably watch this quite soon...

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Post #: 17
A remarkable, deeply moving account of a mn - 10/8/2009 2:06:31 PM   


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A very poignant and unique film, 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' is told from the perspective of a man, Jean-Dominique Bauby, who is suffering from locked-in syndrome and has decided to write a memoir of his life. Based on a true story, it is difficult to find another film as effective in the way it has been shot to allow the audience to almost take the place of Jean-Dominique Bauby, as he is taught how to speak again, as he spends his final days with his family and friends, as he revisits fond memories from his past, before his illness took hold of him, he untimately masters the strength to pursue his dream to write a memoir of life and of his battle to cope with his condition.
The cinematography is stunning and the story, despite its tragic undertones, has many amusing moments.'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' is a deeply moving, thought-provoking, and highly inspirational that deserves the title of one of the most effective Foreign language films in years.

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True Original - 21/9/2010 6:00:06 PM   

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Emotive and terrifyingly real drama of exactly what being a prisoner in your own body is like

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Le scaphandre et le papillon - 18/7/2011 5:06:29 AM   

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It's a powerhouse of a film that shines with life and spirit. It is a vivid, shattering, moving and poignant experience. And, probably, Schnabel's best film.

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"Hold fast to the human inside of you, and you'll ... - 15/12/2013 1:37:29 AM   


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Joined: 19/10/2012
By the time the end credits have rolled it's easy to forget there were a few funny moments in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly... it is, among many other, more attributable things, one of the most depressing films of recent times, but only because director Julian Schnabel feels the full weight of the subject matter. A sharp, powerful, arresting and deeply moving film.

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