As so sublimely rendered into images and emotions, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a lesson on how we are more than the useless casket of our daily labors- our memory and imagination are the true essence of our beings. And yes, it is aching not to be able to use our body to express the multitude of us, yet we are bound to cling to our humanity to survive. It is not only inscripted in our genes, it is our way of giving and taking the world's beauties upon ourselves. Both happiness and despair are a blink away, working their mystery in intricate ways and we never know what fate has in store for the next moment: it could be sheer joy or the beginning of the end. Either way, it is how we resiliently turn our misfortune around that makes us humane, genuine creatures.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is surely one movie that will tear out your comfort clothing and force you to contemplate your own rawness. It might do you good or it might strike you as unbearable. Regardless of the personal journey, it is one of the most touching and incredible movies about the strength behind the apparent frailty of the human being. Based on the true story of French journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby and inspired by his memoir, the movie was directed by Julian Schnabel and it won not only remarkable awards but also worldwide appreciation. The true story is not very different than the movie itself, and any minor changes made by the director only added up to the cinematic intensity. The main character, a 40-year old vivacious, popular, successful man, has a stroke and finds himself completely paralysed, still mentally aware of everything around him. This is the locked-in syndrome that allows him to ponder upon his past and gives him the chance to write his memoir before the end. Surrounded by his loving family, supported by the caring hospital staff, Jean-Do uses his left eye to communicate not only his wishes and thoughts, but also to write a book about his connection to the past, in the form of his beloved memories, and to his restless imagination. Trapped in a cast-iron diving bell suit, suspended between life and death, his mind is the free butterfly that wanders off through old places, green pastures, an eating feast, the company of his old father and the loving arms of both wife and mistress.
There is never-failing resource within our fibers, a stamina that pushes us beyond any familiar limits, challenging the impossible and the undreamable. This is what The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is all about to me- a painful journey within my own boundaries, in search of the burning flame inside. It gives you perspective upon your own smallness and the wealth to grow above your own confinement. Its greatness resides not only in the remarkable performances -those of the main character, Mathieu Almaric, sa femme Celine -Emmanuelle Seigner- his father, the never-aging, Max von Sydow, or his friend, Roussin played by Niels Arestrup- but also in the unexpected, yet marvellous, symbolism of the story. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is the emotional puzzle of a broken man with a dauntless spirit. Come breath in your necessary lesson of boldness and grow some butterfly wings!