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Saturday, April 18, 2009
The Diving Bell and The Butterfly (2007)
Le Scaphandre et le Papillon ( The Diving Bell and The Butterfly) is one of the most remarkable films I have seen of late. It tells the the true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby who suffers a stroke and has to live with a totally paralyzed body except his left eye which remains unaffected. Helped by two caring and sympathetic therapists along with an immensely patient and understanding scribe he succeeds in dictating the story of his life, all conveyed through the fluttering of his solitary eye-lid. The director, Julian Schnabel's sensitive depiction of such mournful a human tragedy is both heart-rending and introspective at the same time. Mathieu Amalric, who plays Bauby (Best known for playing Dominic Greene in Quantum of Solace), has only his eye to act for him and he does it to perfection, driving his audience to tears with his restless manouevers and naked helplessness. This film is not a journey of faith nor a story against insurmountable odds where the protagonist comes out triumphs. Rather it is a story which makes one ponder one's own way of life, how he/she treats his/her loved ones; for there could never be a chance to make amends tomorrow. This sense of foreboding fills us with dread as we see Jean-Do struggle to convey things we so take for granted in our lives everyday. We feel belittled by the impact of his infirmity, to watch how an ageless mind is trapped inside the rigid carcass of a dysfunctional body. Though Bauby dies only 10 days after his book is released, we are told, his story does its bit in putting a seed of consciousness in the heart of its audience and that for a film of mere 107 minutes is an enviable achievement.
A ennobling film based on an extraordinary story which tries in its own little way to make better human beings of us all; all it asks from us is a little empathy to truly appreciate and "live" its message of love and compassion.