Le Scaphandre et le Papillon

Le Scaphandre et le Papillon (2007) – [rate 5]

(The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)

A celebration of life and a reflection on mortality, this movie is a powerful testament to the story-telling potential of film. Although I’m sure the book would be an equally – if not more – powerful statement of Jean-Dominique Bauby’s will to live, the movie puts you in a place and state of mind that is hard to achieve in any other way. The soundtrack is subtle but powerful. The camera work is disruptive and disorienting but it sweeps you along and helps to put you in the place of the protagonist, played by Mathieu Amalric [IMDb].

Whether he is a masterful actor, or whether the scenario and the voice-over are just sublime, I’m not sure. But he manages to get a strong character across that belies the fact that we only get a few minutes of this man on his feet and about. Most of the movie you see the main character paralyzed, unable to move more than his eyelid and yet you feel for him and with him.

It’s a true work of art and it needs nothing more and nothing needs to be taken away. That’s not to say everyone will like it, but I doubt there is a lot of room for improvement in terms of anything this movie could be. It takes you on an emotional roller coaster and left me unsure about how I would deal with a situation like his. It’s a true story, so calling it unrealistic is unfair. But it’s hard to imagine taking such incredibly bad odds so well. And yet the film manages to get across how this might be possible. Wonderful.

With Basquiat and Berlin already on his list of completed work, I can’t wait to see what Julian Schnabel‘s [IMDb] next movie Miral [Vimeo] will turn out to be, apart from highly current – as it deals with the Israel / Palestine situation.

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Jaap van der Velde

I live and breathe software, love games and spent many a vacation touring Europe on my motorcycle. Currently diving, riding, hopefully flying and gaining perspective around Oz.

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