The Diving Bell and The Butterfly
is a 2007 French/American film based on the memoirs
of the same name from Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric), who at the
age of 42 suffered a stroke which sent him into a coma and when he
awoke, is found that he has an extremely rare condition called
“locked-in syndrome”, which is the patient being mentally normal, but
the body almost completely paralysed.
Unable to move from the neck down or speak and having
his right eye sewn shut as it no longer irrigates properly because
Doctors fear an infection, Bauby is left only able to communicate with
others using a system created by his speech and language therapist by
blinking his left eye while letters of the alphabet are recited to him.
Bauby uses this system to write his memoir in which
he goes on to explain his life before, the regrets of his life and
living with the affliction that has a normal man trapped inside his own
I found myself very drawn into the film, with it’s
uncommon subject matter, it’s made a very interesting and powerful film
that shows the inner struggle of a man who had a very exotic, high
profile life, but is now literally trapped inside his own body, which in
turn has relegated him to a life in the Naval hospital which he is being
treated, that has now become his home.
Mathieu Amalric shines as Jean-Do, portraying the
life before his stroke and the life after, confined to his wheelchair,
letting us into to his mind and thoughts through narration. Even in his
trapped body, he still realises that he has his vast imagination and
with it, he can go and be anywhere he likes at anytime and it’s this
inner strength that makes the character so compelling and so very
endearing to watch.
The Blu-ray transfer looks beautifully realised in
numerous places, with seeing life through Jean-Do’s ‘eye’, with the
often hard to make out and unfocused imagery of a man who’s been through
a major trauma, but the transfer is still a little rough around the
edges, which add to the feeling that we are trapped inside Jean-Do with
him, seeing the world the way he now sees it.
I was also surprised to learn that the film was
originally meant to be filmed in English with Johnny Depp in the role of
Jean-Do, though Depp had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. I wonder how that film
would have ended up? No doubt Depp with an Oscar nod and possible even a
win. Who knows. But this film, the film that was made is a
beautiful, compelling, moving and inspiring. A look into the life of a
man who was struck down with what I can only imagine is the worst kind
A great film that is definitely well worth seeing.