Review: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

That was beautiful.

That was the resonating thought I had while the credits began to roll after Julian Schnabel’s French film, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly;” based on Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoir, Le Scaphandre et le papillon.

That was beautiful, as a beautiful metaphor and images are shown behind the French credits.

That was beautiful, as Joe Strummer’s (& The Mescaleros’) great, uplifting anthem of “Ramshackle Day Parade” plays. “Loving life…that is paradise.” So true, my man. So true. (R.I.P.)

And those beautiful French people…

The best foreign language film I have seen all year, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” excels at showing the human, and the inhuman (which is, after all, human).

About the paralysis and resulting hospital stay of Elle magazine editor Bauby, the film is just…splendid. To describe the story would be insufficient. The way “Diving Bell” is filmed is magnificent. To save you the surprise, I will not reveal the techniques screenwriter Ronald Harwood and Schnabel incorporate in the film to make it all the more real and mesmerizing (possibly head-ache inducing, but you’ll get it over it).

Some notes about the production of the film… Direction? Check. Script? Double-check. Acting? Oh, yes. The acting really is great. Visuals and scenery? Oh my goodness, yes. Usage of music? Triple-times-one-hundred check. The use of music in “Diving Bell” is quite amazing. The shattering guitars of the Edge set one convertible scene’s fast tone as U2 plays along. Tom Waits croons his type of croon during a revealing Father’s Day-on-the-beach scene. The last song of the credits also goes to Waits. As well: This film has opened my eyes to the major talents of the former leader of the legendary Clash. Joe Strummer: we really, really hardly knew ye. Let’s change that somehow. Listen to the man’s last records with his band the Mescaleros. So far, they have not disappointed. And I don’t expect them to. (Thank you Mr. Schanbel (or whoever picked out the music). But thanks for the terrific film as well.)

Astounding and beautiful film-making? An assured check.

This wonderful film is about living life and being human. Go see it.

– R.H.


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