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Film / The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (French: Le Scaphandre et le Papillon) 2007 French biographical drama directed by Julian Schnabel and based on Jean-Dominique Bauby's 1997 memoir of the same name.

The story follows Bauby (Mathieu Amalric), who suffers a stroke that leaves him almost completely paralyzed and having to live with only being able to move his left eye to see what is going on around him.

The movie also stars Emmanuelle Seigner, Anne Consigny, Marie Josee Croze, Patrick Chesnais, and Max von Sydow.

Compare The Sea Inside.

Tropes for the film:

  • And I Must Scream: The movie centers around Jean-Dominique Bauby having to cope with falling victim to this fate, as a stroke leaves him paralyzed everywhere except his eyes (and one of them is sewn up early on when it stops irrigating properly, so he can only use one eye). It's suggested that it is temporary (the doctors keep talking about how they hope to help him eventually regain the ability to move, though the epilogue reveals that he died of pneumonia before this could happen), but he still ends up like this long enough to write a book about his feelings. It also bears mentioning that this was Based on a True Story.
  • First-Person Dying Perspective: The film is almost told exclusively from the first-person perspective of its subject, stroke victim Jean-Dominique Bauby, who is suffering from Locked-in syndrome and can only move his left eyelid. Despite this, he manages to write a memoir; Bauby dies of pneumonia just two days after its publication.
  • Hospital Hottie: Bauby has two very attractive nurses helping him out. It's the least he could ask for considering the crap he has to endure throughout the film.
  • P.O.V. Cam: The film is partially shown in this manner, using a tilt-shift focus (which picks out sharp objects in an otherwise blurry image) to depict the viewpoint of Bauby, who suffers a stroke that among other debilitations leaves him with the use of only one eye.