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126 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly tells the true story of a Jean Dominique Bauby, the debonair editor of French Elle, who suffered locked in syndrome following a devastating stroke. After the stroke he can only communicate by blinking his eye.

Everything about this as a premise for a film sounds terrible - he does not move, so what is filmic about it; he does...
Published on 18 April 2008 by Jaybird

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars read the book!!!
Although a moving film describing the extra-ordinary achievement of Jean Dominique Bauby's to describe his feelings and coming to terms with life after a massive stroke which left him with 'locked in syndrome'. The only way of communication left to him was blinking his eyelid.
The book seems to bring out more of the authors feelings giving insights into his past life...
Published on 19 Feb. 2009 by P. MORGAN


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126 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 18 April 2008
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This review is from: The Diving Bell And The Butterfly [DVD] (DVD)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly tells the true story of a Jean Dominique Bauby, the debonair editor of French Elle, who suffered locked in syndrome following a devastating stroke. After the stroke he can only communicate by blinking his eye.

Everything about this as a premise for a film sounds terrible - he does not move, so what is filmic about it; he does not communicate verbally, so where is the dialogue or the relationships; he reflects on his life and his mortality, but how do you show that?

Do not be put off. The film is beautifully made, turning faces into landscapes and using careful palettes of colour to distinguish pre and post stroke scenes. The film shows how Jean-Do becomes a cypher for those around him, providing meaning to their lives, even though inside he is intrinsically himself. In the end, the film is about the meaning of this man's life and all our lives, clear-eyed and fearless.

It is moving without being sentimental or mawkish, insightful, funny, beautiful and intelligent. An absolute must see.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, moving and beautifully shot - the best film of 2007!, 4 July 2008
By 
E. McKiernan (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Diving Bell And The Butterfly [DVD] (DVD)
The book is so beautiful a piece of personal philosophy that I went to see the film with some trepidation, but if anything the film adds to the book by Bauby. The film is beautifully shot, funny and moving (but not in a sentimental way).

The director (who does not speak fluent French) chose to retain the original language of the book and this, I believe speaks volumes in a world of cinema where the digestability of a film by a mass audience is often classed as more important than retaining the soul of a piece of artistic cinema. The film was originally meant to be made by Pathe and star Jonny Depp - I think a tragedy was averted!

This film can be enjoyed (yes enjoyed - despite its theme it really isnt at all depressing) on so many levels - as a compelling human story, as an uplifting philosophy and as a work of art. You should not miss this film.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 9/10. The Butterfly effect, 2 Mar. 2008
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'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' is an adaptation of a book many would presume to be unadaptable: former Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby's memoirs reflecting upon his rare medical condition "locked-in syndrome". The film begins begins daringly and terrifyingly from Bauby's perspective, as he regains consciousness in hospital following a stroke and slowly realises that he is totally paralysed except for an ability to roll and blink his eyes. His only means of communication is thus to blink, once for `yes' and twice for `no', and with the assistance of his publisher he learns to spell words via a painstakingly laborious alphabetical system. Together they were able to transcribe the 144 page memoir on which this film is based.

In the first part of the film the viewer is locked, dreadfully, into Bauby's perspective as one of his eyes is sewn shut to counterbalance the effect of muscle paralysis in his face. As the camera deviates from the prison of Bauby's perspective, it seems at first to be a wasted opportunity to powerfully express Bauby's experience through cinematic style. A film told totally from his viewpoint would have been an incredibly challenging formalistic achievement. It would not have been overwhelmingly restrictive since the novel deals as much with Bauby's inner life (the butterfly) - the freedom he finds to explore his memory and imagination - as with his physical life.

Nevertheless, the film justifies its decision to roam beyond the confines of Bauby's vision. Most importantly, we are made privvy to his means of communicating, and how oddly expressive this one facet of communication could be. This film irrefutably demonstrates the notion that eyes are the windows to the soul. Bauby's single eye becomes a vessel for all his expressiveness, his mouth, his smile, his voice. It is extraordinary how much emotional range is evoked from so little. The film is a tribute to the endurance and transcendance of the human spirit over material obstacles. It also makes a total mockery of Alejandro Amenabar's mawkish pro-euthanasia drama `The Sea Inside'. A powerful, saddening but ultimately uplifting film that deserves to be seen.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever and Original Film, 17 Aug. 2008
By 
L. Davidson (Belfast, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Diving Bell And The Butterfly [DVD] (DVD)
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is a gripping French film based on a true story about a renowned magazine editor,who after suffering a devastating stroke became paralysed,only able to communicate by blinking one of his eyes. The acting in the film is of a very high standard throughout as we watch the immobile Jean-Do face up to his life altering circumstances at first with despair but then with resignation and finally acceptance of his horrible fate. He is lucky in that he has the love of two women,his wife and mistress to keep him going , as well as his three children and several attentive speech therapists and helpers. Their support bolsters his spirits and enable him to "write" his memoirs and share his experiences of life as a victim of "locked in" syndrome with the world.The film is at times depressing and sad , but it is vital and original as well.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touched by genius, 19 Jun. 2008
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Chuck E (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Diving Bell And The Butterfly [DVD] (DVD)
Just when you started to feel that film had become little more than a merchandising exercise, along comes a release that reminds you what it can be. Reading The Diving Bell one could be forgiven for thinking it essentially unfilmable - so much is going on inside the head of the protagonist, there's little `action' not a great deal of dialogue, a slight plot... Yet, Schnabel's film is touched with genius and blessed with uniformly excellent performances, from the speech therapist down to the telephone engineers. Moreover, unlike other films dealing with disability, where the audience looks `at' the disability, here we look `from' - and there's a big difference. The decision to take the point of view from inside Bauby's head is inspired and completely transforms the relationship of the viewer to the subject. Technically and aesthetically it is a triumph - it's quite difficult to think how it could have been improved, even down to the soundtrack. Obviously, there's a depressing side to the tale of a man stricken by total paralysis(!), but the film stands as a testament to the remarkable resilience of the human spirit.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "You're waking from a long sleep...", 10 Nov. 2009
By 
@GeekZilla9000 "I am completely operational a... (Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Diving Bell And The Butterfly [DVD] (DVD)
The films starts with Jean opening his eyes in hospital and realising that nobody can hear him speak, they can't hear him because his words aren't coming out of his mouth - his mind is alert, active, fully functional - but his body is useless to him apart from one working eye. He quickly learns that he has 'locked in syndrome', he is a prisoner in his own body and more vulnerable than the day he was born.

The Diving Bell And The Butterfly charts Jean's life from this point onwards, and the first part of the film is presented to us almost exclusively from his point of view as we see what he sees and hear his thoughts on everything from medical experts telling him about his condition, catching a glimpse of his own reflection, to meeting the people he knows.

His speech therapist devises a way to communicate, a painfully slow way of him blinking to select the appropriate letter from the list she reads out. It's during one of these early sessions that the film delivers an insight into how those around Jean value him when his speech therapist starts to get upset as she realises what he is saying: "I want death" - a powerful phrase which delivers a cold shiver down your spine. Her reaction is perfect, instead of a gushing reassurance she gets angry with him for being so selfish - there's no Hollywood sense of over-sentimentality here, what you get always feels genuine.

This is the true story of the successful French magazine editor whose glamorous life is changed beyond anything he could have imagined and the film manages to never become a grim wave goodbye to a fading light, instead it balances the heartache by bringing us the humour and wit of someone who was no less of a man because his body failed him. Of course the film is tremendously sad and I watched this with tears in my eyes at points, but this isn't the story of an extraordinary man - it's the story of an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances.

In a nutshell: We witness his silence, we see his rigidness - but we hear his thoughts and his laughter and it is those things which make the man. This film makes you reflect on your own life and celebrates the human side of life when everything else is stripped away. I'll certainly make time now to read the book of the same name which Jean 'wrote' whilst paralysed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent film, 3 Aug. 2009
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Mrs. D. Needham "debs" (Stockport, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Diving Bell And The Butterfly [DVD] (DVD)
I ordered this film because my daughters best friend suffers the same condition and i wanted to understand more. Its a brilliant film and gives a heartwrenching insight to what the sufferers endure each and every day of their lives.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Diving bell and the butterfly DVD, 5 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: The Diving Bell And The Butterfly [DVD] (DVD)
This was a very moving and inspiring film to watch. I also purchased the book and found it incredible, having watched the film, that some-one so disabled could have the perseverance to tell the world about his life. It wasn't done in a 'feel sorry for me' way, although, of course, you were aware of the terrible sadness of it all, but in an inspiring way.
Probably not everyone would want to watch this. People have different reasons for watching films - maybe sometimes as an escape from reality for a while. This is not one of those films, as it is full of reality. I found it very thought-provoking and humbling.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars to understand Lock in syndrome, 12 Mar. 2012
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M. Sparrow (Stoke on Trent UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Diving Bell And The Butterfly [DVD] (DVD)
Hi I was first lent the DVD with the same title about this man who to my mind achieved his goal. The DVD hit such a spot with me that i bought my own DVD. I also bought the book by the same title in case anything had been left out but found the director had in fact been true to the underlying story. It helped me understand how some one with lock in syndrome must feel . It is a monument to his carers as much as to him. Worthy of a read or watch , I had to keep reminding myself of his disabilities.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Butterfly Effect, 26 Mar. 2008
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This review is from: The Diving Bell And The Butterfly [DVD] (DVD)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' is an adaptation of a book many would presume to be unadaptable: former Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby's memoirs reflecting upon his rare medical condition "locked-in syndrome". The film begins begins daringly and terrifyingly from Bauby's perspective, as he regains consciousness in hospital following a stroke and slowly realises that he is totally paralysed except for an ability to roll and blink his eyes. His only means of communication is thus to blink, once for `yes' and twice for `no', and with the assistance of his publisher he learns to spell words via a painstakingly laborious alphabetical system. Together they were able to transcribe the 144 page memoir on which this film is based.

In the first part of the film the viewer is locked, dreadfully, into Bauby's perspective as one of his eyes is sewn shut to counterbalance the effect of muscle paralysis in his face. As the camera deviates from the prison of Bauby's perspective, it seems at first to be a wasted opportunity to powerfully express Bauby's experience through cinematic style. A film told totally from his viewpoint would have been an incredibly challenging formalistic achievement. It would not have been overwhelmingly restrictive since the novel deals as much with Bauby's inner life (the butterfly) - the freedom he finds to explore his memory and imagination - as with his physical life.

Nevertheless, the film justifies its decision to roam beyond the confines of Bauby's vision. Most importantly, we are made privvy to his means of communicating, and how oddly expressive this one facet of communication could be. This film irrefutably demonstrates the notion that eyes are the windows to the soul. Bauby's single eye becomes a vessel for all his expressiveness, his mouth, his smile, his voice. It is extraordinary how much emotional range is evoked from so little. The film is a tribute to the endurance and transcendance of the human spirit over material obstacles. It also makes a total mockery of Alejandro Amenabar's mawkish pro-euthanasia drama `The Sea Inside'. A powerful, saddening but ultimately uplifting film that deserves to be seen.
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The Diving Bell And The Butterfly [DVD]
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly [DVD] by Julian Schnabel (DVD - 2008)
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