The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

"A big, black fly lands on my nose. I wriggle my head to dislodge it. It clings on. Olympic wrestling has nothing on this."

Rarely does a film truly take you into somebody’s head for almost the entire film. Sure, you get POVs here and there in films, but it’s a tricky tool to use, especially for longer periods of time. When Ronald Harwood hit on this in-the-head technique for his adaptation of Jean-Dominique Bauby’s biography, it was exactly what the story needed to be told as a film. Enter Julian Schnabel, an artist/filmmaker who brought his own intuitive magic to the directing of it, and you end up with 2007’s “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” a stunningly gorgeous film that’s as powerful a story of human resilience and beauty as it is a difficult film to watch because of the subject — a man living with locked-in syndrome. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we continue our foreign language series with this brilliant film. We talk about our feelings of the movie and how powerful it is yet how difficult it can be to watch and why. We chat about the unique techniques Schnabel brings to the table in the making of the film and why they work so well with this story. We discuss the actors — Mathieu Amalric, Max von Sydow, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josée Croze and more — and how they all bring an amazing personal strength to the film. We talk about Janusz Kaminski’s beautiful cinematography and how well it lends itself to the telling of this story. We bring up the novel Bauby’s widowed girlfriend wrote about her experience and talk about why she got virtually left out of the film. And we look at the critical reception this film had worldwide, even if it struggled to bring in the bucks. It’s a glorious poem of a film and one worth talking about. Definitely check it out then tune in!

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