The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) – directed by Julian Schnabel

A film directed by New York born Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is the true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric) who suffers a stroke and is entirely paralyzed with the exception of his left eye. The film so heart wrenchingly concerns the transformation of an able bodied man into one suffering from the aptly name “Locked in Syndrome”, a syndrome by which his only means of communication is through the blinking of his left eye. Appropriately, the film is told from Bauby’s perspective and considers the frustrations and insights brought about by his condition.

This film is a true masterpiece and a marvel of first person perspective filming. Narrative takes a back seat and the film is audibly and visually driven. The camera rarely leaves his eye creating a suffocating claustrophobia, allegorized by the diving bell metaphor, and at times relieved by the freedom and celebration of his imagination, the butterfly. It so vividly captures his forced introspection and yearning for communication.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a must watch. It is an exceptionally realized film that had me pondering the mind and body that we live in and what it means to be a human being.

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