Diving Bell and the Butterfly

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Product Overview

From Miramax Films, acclaimed director Julian Schnabel, and the screenwriter of The Pianist comes a remarkable and inspiring true story about the awesome power of imagination. Experience the triumphant tale of renowned editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, a man whose love of life and soaring vision shaped his will to achieve a life without boundaries. You'll soon discover why David Denby of The New Yorker calls The Diving Bell and the Butterfly "nothing less than the rebirth of the cinema."


Studio Buena Vista Home Entertainment
SKU 206929992
UPC 786936750119
UPC 14 00786936750119
Format DVD
Release Date 12/29/2009
Rating Rating
Theatrical Release
True Story
Editors Note
Note Celebrated painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel's third feature finds him reaching new artistic heights with this audacious and personal biopic, based on the best-selling memoir of the same name. The film tells the remarkable tale of Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric), the world-renowned editor of French ELLE magazine, who suffered a stroke and was paralyzed by the inexplicable "locked in" syndrome at the age of 43. Bauby's only way of communicating with the outside world was by blinking with one eye, and after several dedicated helpers--a string of impossibly beautiful women (Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josee Croze, Olatz Lopez Garamendia, Anne Consigny)--helped him to speak through this seemingly irrelevant gesture, he began to produce the words that would form his memoir. Along the way, as he swam in and out of consciousness, memories from his past swelled into the present, resulting in a cinematic experience that is at once heartbreaking and hopeful. Schnabel somehow manages to convey Bauby's internal life with remarkable clarity, employing first-person perspective, striking cinematography (by the always great Janusz Kaminski), and Amalric's pained, life-affirming monologues. The result is a wholly original experience, a painful and tender portrait of a life that is made all the more exhilarating because of its close proximity to death.
Film Comment "The result is like a precious art object -- crafted by a painter -- that through emotional wealth and visual invention amplifies the poignancy found on the page." 11/01/2007 p.69
Box Office "[Schnabel] possesses an imaginative eye that avoids the obvious and mawkish." 12/01/2007 p.55
New York Times "[Mr. Schnabel] demonstrates his own imaginative freedom in every frame and sequence, dispensing with narrative and expository conventions in favor of a wild, intuitive honesty." 11/30/2007
USA Today 3 stars out of 4 -- "[S]urrealistic and inventive. The film version of the best-selling memoir THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY is visually arresting and a tribute to the power of imagination..." 11/30/2007
Rolling Stone 3.5 stars out of 4 -- "[Schnabel's] best film yet, a high-wire act of visual daring and unquenchable spirit." 12/13/2007 p.142
Entertainment Weekly "[The director] has scattered, layered, and shuffled images to create a very specific universe as sensual as the subject himself described it in hard-won words." -- Grade: A- 12/21/2007 p.56
Los Angeles Times "[The] imaginative and sensitive film, starring France's gifted Mathieu Amalric, is simultaneously uplifting and melancholy, suffused with an unexpected sense of possibility as much as the inevitable sense of loss." 11/30/2007
Empire 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he visual style itself becomes the key element that allows us to understand and admire the way that Bauby's mental vivacity overcomes his physical limitations." 02/01/2008 p.48
Sight and Sound "[A] delicate and finely judged film....Janusz Kaminski's impressionistic cinematography can't help but seem refreshing..." 02/01/2008 p.61
Uncut 5 stars out of 5 -- "Schnabel has transposed the book thoughtfully and successfully....It's an inspiring and profoundly moving experience." 03/01/2008 p.120
Wall Street Journal "Julian Schnabel's magnificent French-language film, like its true-life subject, transcends reality's prison with surreal buoyancy." 05/24/2012
Julian Schnabel
Marie-Josee Croze
Emmanuelle Seigner
Mathieu Amalric
Cast & Crew
Emmanuelle Seigner - Actor
Janusz Kaminski - Cinematographer
Jean-Dominique Bauby - Based On Novel By
Julian Schnabel - Director
Juliette Welfling - Editor
Kathleen Kennedy - Producer
Laurent Ott - Production Designer
Marie-Josee Croze - Actor
Mathieu Amalric - Actor
Max von Sydow - Actor
Michel Eric - Production Designer
Paul Cantelon - Original Music By
Pierre Grunstein - Executive Producer
Ronald Harwood - Screenplay
Technical Info
Original Release Date 2007
Catalog ID 5596703
UPC 00786936750119
Number of Discs 1
Running Time 112 minutes
Color Color
Original Language French
Available Subtitles English
Available Audio Tracks French
Aspect Ratio
Widescreen  1.85:1
Winner (2008) British Academy Awards, Ronald Harwood, Best Screenplay - Adapted,Golden Globe, Julian Schnabel, Best Director - Motion Picture,Golden Globe, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Best Foreign Language Film,Independent Spirit, Janusz Kaminski, Best Cinematography,Independent Spirit, Julian Schnabel, Best Director
Nominee (2008) Oscar, Janusz Kaminski, Best Achievement in Cinematography,Oscar, Julian Schnabel, Best Achievement in Directing,Oscar, Juliette Welfling, Best Achievement in Editing,Oscar, Ronald Harwood, Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Winner (2007) Cannes Film Festival, Julian Schnabel, Best Director,Cannes Film Festival, Janusz Kaminski, Technical Grand Prize
ReviewSource ReelViews
Review For many people, there is no hell more unimaginable than having a healthy, active mind trapped in a paralyzed husk of a body. Some of those in this situation seek a quick end to their misery (as was the case with Ramon Sampedro, whose tale was dramatized in the 2004 feature, The Sea Inside); others fight tooth and nail to regain even the smallest foothold into the life they once knew. With The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, painter-turned-director Julian Schnabel not only wants to narrate the story of Jean-Dominique Bauby; he wants the audience to become immersed in Bauby's world. To this end, he employs cinematographic techniques in ways that have not previously been used in a mainstream, narrative feature. As a result, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly can at times be an unsettling experience...The Diving Bell and the Butterfly triumphs because of its honesty and its refusal to allow the character to wallow in self-pity. Approached differently, this could have been a downer, but Schnabel wanted the film to act as an affirmation of life. He wants us to leave the theater appreciating what we have and what we can experience. Do not be dissuaded by the subject matter. This is a special motion picture that achieves its higher agenda of doing much more than idly plucking at a few heartstrings.
Reviewer James Berardinelli
ReviewRating 9
ReviewSource Chicago Sun-Times
Review "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is a film about a man who experiences the catastrophe I most feared during my recent surgeries: "locked-in syndrome," where he is alive and conscious but unable to communicate with the world. My dread, I think, began when I was a boy first reading Edgar Allan Poe's "The Premature Burial" at an age much too young to contemplate such a possibility...The lead performance by Mathieu Amalric exists in two ways, as the unmoving man in bed and the vital man in his memories and fantasies. In that way it is fundamentally different from Daniel Day-Lewis' work in "My Left Foot," about a man who could move only a toe. At least he could lurch and groan and cry. Both films find the inevitable solution to their challenge, and the right actors to meet them...Janusz Kaminski, the cinematographer, is in large part responsible for freeing the film from its own dangers of being locked in. From the cloudy opening POV shots of Jean-Dominique regaining consciousness, Kaminski fills the screen with life and beauty, so that it's not at all as depressing as it sounds...At the end we are left with the reflection that human consciousness is the great miracle of evolution, and all the rest (sight, sound, taste, hearing, smell, touch) are simply a toolbox that consciousness has supplied for itself.
Reviewer Roger Ebert
ReviewRating 10
DVD, Widescreen, Aspect Ratio 1.85:1, Dolby Digital (5.1), English, French, Dubbed & Subtitled, Subtitled
Product Attributes
Actor Seigner,Emmanuelle
Label Buena Vista Home Video
Music Format DVD
Video Format DVD
Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post ...a lively exploration of consciousness and a soaring ode to liberation.
David Ansen, Newsweek ...a story of physical entrapment and spiritual renewal into exhilarating images.
David Denby, The New Yorker ...a gloriously unlocked experience, with some of the freest and most creative uses of the camera...
David Edelstein, New York Magazine ...a masterpiece in which "locked-in" syndrome becomes the human condition.
Ken Fox, TV Guide Amalric is extraordinary, creating a character literally without moving a muscle.
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune ...a rhapsodic adaptation of a memoir, a visual marvel that wraps its subject in screen romanticism without romanticizing his affliction.
Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com ...speaks of something far more elemental than mere filmmaking skill: This is what movies, at their best, can be.

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