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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
DVD disk
May 13, 2008 By: Sturdy
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly order
Director:
Julian Schnabel

Actors:
Mathieu Amalric
Emmanuelle Seigner
Marie-Josee Croze

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A once successful magazine editor is forced to cope with being completely paralyzed after suffering a stroke. With the help of a patient therapist, he manages to communicate and discovers an inner strength that allows him to deal with his situation.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
The basic story of DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY is interesting, but only to an extent. Once you learn that the main character is completely paralyzed save for an eyelid and you learn what hes able to accomplish, theres not much more to figure out. But what makes this movie so special is the way it was told and the creative techniques Julian Schnabel used to help the audience understand the main characters unusual situation.

That alone sets Diving Bell apart from other movies Ive seen. I cant remember a film that has influenced me physically while watching the film. There were times when watching this that I too felt paralyzed. Schnabel would restrict the audiences field of view as if you were seeing the world from the main characters point of view. He used this technique for maybe 60% of the film and I found it annoying as a movie watcher, but loved it as a movie fan.

I did feel that the film struggled when toggling back and forth from the present day to the flashbacks. I was confused as to why some of the flashback scenes were included and I was completely uninterested in the fantasy scenes. I realize that his imagination was a big part of his ability to cope with the situation, but we didnt really need a whole sequence dedicated to him eating seafood. I also didnt think the flashbacks were purposeful enough in furthering the main story. Some sequences felt out of place, or incomplete.

Despite a few areas that needed improvement, I was still moved by the film and found the story fascinating. I absolutely loved the way Schnabel told the present day story and the performances all around were top notch. Even if I didnt agree with some of the choices, this was a polished film that will definitely impact anyone that watches it.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary with Julian Schnabel: Julian has a lot of interesting facts about Jean-Do and the story, but he has way too many pauses to completely hold the audiences attention. He also repeats himself if you watch the other featurettes first (which I did). This is an average commentary and he would have benefitted by having someone else in the room with him.

Submerged (12:40): This is your typical making-of featurette with appearances from everyone involved with the film. They talk a little about being Americans and making a French film, which I found interesting. I also liked that they showed behind the scenes footage rather than movie scenes.

A Cinematic Vision (7:14): This was great because the cinematography was the highlight of the film for me. The cinematographer and director talk about their choices and how they created certain looks. This was very interesting.

Charlie Rose Interview with Julian Schnabel (20:44): Rose is one of the best and this interview is done pretty well. They dont stick to the movie the entire time and Julian talks about his life, his fears and then explores the various themes of the film. Its typical Rose, which is a very good thing.

There are also some Previews
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I would easily recommend this film to any film student as a new, original way to tell a story. Casual audiences may be turned off by the style choices, but I think everyone will acknowledge the greatness of the story.
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