"I decided to stop pitying myself. Other than my eye, two things aren't paralyzed, my imagination and my memory." - Jean-Dominique Bauby.
When Elle magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby wakes up in a hospital bed, he quickly discovers the reasons why he is there. After suffering a stroke, Jean-Do's entire body is paralysed except for his left eye but he continues to have complete brain function - a condition known as 'locked-in syndrome'. He has to come to terms with his 'life' and with the help of a speech therapist devises a way to communicate through blinking. They are faced with some difficulties whilst conversing with his father, his ex-lover and his current lover. Jean-Do aims to tell his story, but will he able to get his message across?
The cinematography really makes this film. It starts from the point of view of Jean-Do as he tries to figure out where he is and what is going on. Blurring and blinking effects are used to make it look as real as possible. Hearing Jean-Do's inner voice whilst seeing what he sees is very moving as he realises the severity of his condition. His growing frustrations are completely understandable and utterly heartbreaking. The laborious process of communication between Jean-Do and his therapist Henriette develops over time and after initial reservations, he begins to tell his story. Henriette reads out a list of letters in order of most frequently used and Jean-Do blinks on the correct letter.
The name of the film derives from Jean-Do's description of his condition and his thoughts. The 'Diving Bell 'relates to the comparison he draws between his syndrome and that of being in diving suit beneath the sea, with no escape. The 'Butterfly' is symbolic of the freedom of his imagination, something that is explored through several dream sequences and voice-overs.
|Jean-Do's imagining of a statue coming to life.|
I would appear to have a heart of stone because I've never shed a tear whilst watching a film. I will admit that this was difficult to watch due to the subject matter and definitely tugs at the heartstrings. The condition is horrific, there is no denying that and the way it is portrayed in the film is tasteful, sensitive and completely tragic. I really liked the film and would highly recommend it.
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