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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly(Le scaphandre et le papillon)

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

France, USA

2007

Rated PG-13 • 1h 52m

Director Julian Schnabel

Starring Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josée Croze, Anne Consigny

Genre Drama

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The true story of Elle France editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered a stroke at the age of 43 that paralyzed his entire body except for his left eye. Using that eye to blink out his memoir, Bauby eloquently describes the aspects of his interior world, from the psychological torment of being trapped inside his body to the imagined stories from lands he'd only visited in his mind.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

50

Village Voice by

Far too often, though, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly feels grotesquely calculated, especially the more Schnabel ratchets up the inspirational platitudes of exactly the sort that Bauby--who maintained an acerbic sense of humor about his situation until the very end--would have despised.
100

Newsweek by David Ansen

Schnabel, screenwriter Ronald Harwood and Spielberg's great cinematographer Janusz Kaminski have found a way to take us inside Bauby's mind--his memories, his fantasies, his loves and lusts--transforming a story of physical entrapment and spiritual renewal into exhilarating images.
100

The New Yorker by David Denby

Schnabel’s movie, based on the calm and exquisite little book that Bauby wrote in the hospital, is a gloriously unlocked experience, with some of the freest and most creative uses of the camera and some of the most daring, cruel, and heartbreaking emotional explorations that have appeared in recent movies.
100

Premiere by Glenn Kenny

Every performer in the international cast -- Seigner, de Bankole, von Sydow (magnificent as Bauby's father), and the late Jean-Pierre Cassel to name but a few -- completely disappears into each of their roles, which I think is as much a testament to Schnabel's talents as to theirs.
80

Variety by Justin Chang

Most compelling in its attempts to re-create the experience of paralysis onscreen, gorgeously lensed pic morphs into a dreamlike collage of memories and fantasies, distancing the viewer somewhat from Bauby's consciousness even as it seeks to take one deeper.
88

Rolling Stone by Peter Travers

The movie will wipe you out. Schnabel's previous two films (Basquiat, Before Night Falls) also focused on artists. But this is his best film yet, a high-wire act of visual daring and unquenchable spirit.
91

The A.V. Club by Tasha Robinson

Schnabel's sleepy, drifty, at times morbidly funny film tackles something more ambitious, by getting into the head of someone who's trying to get out of there himself.

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