Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Diving Bell & the Butterfly

On Saturday afternoon I was at the Kabuki Theater to see Julien Schnabel's The Diving Bell & the Butterfly, the French movie based on Jean-Dominique Bauby's memoir of locked-in syndrome. This is one of those movies that people seem a little reluctant to see, one of those I-have-to-be-in-the-right-mood kind of movies.

Before I read the book, I expected to feel mostly pity for the author. Yet instead I also felt like he was having a full & very human experience. The movie is faithful to the spirit of the book in this way.

The movie is very beautiful & very French. It starts out being entirely from the point of view of the main character, paralyzed but for his left eye. It has a nice way of continually transitioning to a 3rd person omniscient view point. For example, it isn't until towards the end of the film that see what Jean-Do's physical condition looks like. Along the way, we get a philosophical essay about just how much in human relations occurs just in the mind.

The movie also boasts an incredible cameo by Max von Sydow. He plays the frailty of old age so movingly that it is nearly unwatchable.

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