What Julian Schnabel’s ‘The Diving Bell And The Butterfly’ Teaches Us About Life and Hardships

Not all movies make a lasting impression. They embed themselves in a region of the psyche and make themselves an inseparable part of our life. “The Diving Bell And The Butterfly,” directed by Julian Schnabel and written by Ronald Harwood, is among those rare films that succeed in immersing anyone entirely in the universe and the personality and the life of a character that is considerably different from yours. This is undoubtedly the most visually stunning, emotionally resonant story ever adapted in cinema. One might fail to savor its brilliance on the first watch but will definitely be blown away on the second try.  It houses all the emotions that make cinema so special: the power to create a story that transcends language and society to explore universal emotions like grief, remorse, passion, and dread. It’s a remarkable tale of the human drive to connect in the face of insurmountable odds. It’s one of the best movies ever made, and no matter how many times it is seen, it’ll always feel like the first time.

The movie opens up with a soothing yet mythical tone of “La Mer,” and we see Jean-Dominique, who has just broken out of a coma. The first half-an-hour of the movie is all filmed from his perspective, slowly exposing his predicament. At the beginning of the movie, viewers assume that he is talking aloud, but we soon find that it’s not the case. Realizing you are locked inside a guy’s head and listening in on his internal voice might be frightening. The physicians tell us that Jean-Dominique had a massive stroke, and now he has locked-in syndrome. All of Jean Dominique’s mental faculties are intact; however, he has completely lost the ability to walk or communicate at all. Other than the movement of one eyelid, he is paralyzed all over. Given the excellent use of point-of-view (POV) cinematography and Mathieu Amalric’s excruciating portrayal, we instantly feel very sympathetic toward his plight.

Jean-Dominique Bauby used to have a thriving career in France prior to the tragedy. He headed the prestigious fashion publication “Elle” as its editor-in-chief. He was a popular author who intended to compose a novel that would turn the protagonist of Dumas’s “The Count of Monte Cristo” into a lady. But his fate had some other plans. The audience feels his confusion and powerlessness, making it a highly intense watch. The first time his former spouse arrives for a visit is a personal favorite and a great example of excellent cinematography. Since he is unable to turn his neck, the physician has instructed her to position herself squarely in his POV. His point of view is captured on video, and the audience feels a wave of compassion wash over them as the duo tries to connect. The filmmaker’s framing is so standard yet so dedicated to Jean Dominique’s perspective that one may get transported to the scene. The film’s gorgeous music makes it seem like an avant-garde masterpiece at times, and the shots of a snorkeler hanging still underwater are a striking visual metaphor for the lock-in sickness that Jean-Dominique suffers from.


It’s Always Better To Get Up and Try Rather Than Look Back 

While some may have given up, Jean made a choice to write a book instead. Rather than wallowing in self-pity over his disability, Jean put his unbroken intellect to good use. Bauby would count on a transcriptionist to repeat the letters as he blinked to indicate the next right character to be typed. His career, adventures, and, most importantly, his innermost beliefs and emotions were chronicled in this book, written from the perspective of someone who was bodily confined. The book was completed after months of arduous labor, and it forever changed the definition of “impossible”. The book was titled “The Diving Bell and Butterfly.” It came out in the spring of 1997. Tragically, Jean-Dominique Bauby passed away only two days after the release of his masterpiece.

Don’t be shocked if someone tells you that “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” is their go-to tale for comfort and solace whenever they’re feeling down. To be honest, it’s among the many unending proofs of what the legendary scientist Stephen Hawking dubbed the “grand design” of the cosmos. How else could you provide such a glaring case to illustrate someone’s role in life? While not everyone here suffers from the abovementioned condition, it’s safe to say that the majority of us have all had our lives seriously turned upside down at some point. We don’t follow the same regimen. The way we do things and talk isn’t the same. In general, our way of life is different. Nevertheless, this also provides us with a unique and wonderful chance: the chance to start again, devoid of excuses. The freedom to follow our hearts and pursue our dreams. The question is, “DO WE?” It’s feasible that the 112 minutes you spend watching this film will alter how you deal with hardships and obstacles that are holding you back from reaching your goal. A simple wish to see another sunrise and to tell your story to the world will pique your curiosity in a million different ways.


Time Is Scarce, So Make the Most of It

Inspiring stories like these, with their grounding in actual events, help us acknowledge God. Every second is precious, and we must savor it while also making the most of it. None of us can survive death; we just have this one life. The freedom to go anywhere you want, whenever you want, to find the one you’ll marry, will be taken away from you. There is no way to express your feelings for a loved one beyond this life. In light of how fleeting our lives really are, it’s important to make the most of every second we’re given. It’s up to us to choose how to live life and tackle hardships, just as it was up to Jean. He authored a novel that was adapted into a film and served as a demonstration of the strength of a man to countless others. He got back in touch with longtime friends and shook off any lingering bitterness or sorrow. This was his destiny, and he fulfilled it. To conclude he left the world as a free man. And we can choose to do the same.


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Rishabh Shandilya
Rishabh Shandilya
Rishabh considers himself a superhero who is always at work trying to save the world from boredom. In his leisure time, he loves to watch more movies and play video games and tries to write about them to entertain his readers further. Rishabh likes to call himself a dedicated fan of Haruki Murakami, whose books are an escape from his real being.
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