1 hour, 52 minutes
PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned.
for nudity, sexual content and some language.
Submerged: The making of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; A cinematic vision; Audio commentary with director Julian Schnabel; Charlie Rose interviews Julian Schnabel.
In 1995, Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric "Alice et Martin") had a stroke that paralyzed him so completely that the only muscles he could move on his own were those in his left eyelid. He died a little more than a year later. In a situation that would seem like endless despair, Bauby was able to move past self-pity, find hope and even develop a wicked sense of humor about his predicament.
American painter-filmmaker Juilan Schnabel (“Before Night Falls”) and screenwriter Ronald Harwood (“The Pianist”) have made an engrossing and vibrant film and they have done it totally avoiding sentimentality.
Though Bauby initially feels sorry for himself and wishes he could have died from the stroke, he also feels an overwhelming sense of guilt for the way he behaved when he was healthy. He had rejected the mother of his kids, Céline Desmoulins (Emmanuelle Seigner "La Vie en rose"), for a woman who now refuses to visit him. While his stroke apparently had nothing to do with his previous lifestyle, he’s now lost the ability to repent for being a terrible husband and father. And although he may be suffering, he still does contemptible things. He still longs for the woman who won’t visit him while appearing to be ungrateful for Céline’s devotion at his bedside.
Fortunately, a pair of therapists (Marie-Josée Croze and Olatz Lopez Garmendia) won’t let him dwell on his misfortune. They teach him to communicate by blinking as they recite letters, helping him to form words that he's unable to speak. And as he gradually leans to how to communicate, he begins to dictate his memoirs to a secretary (Anne Consigny "In the Company of Men"). He eventually learns how to get in touch with his memory and to let his imagination go.
Schnabel and Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski ("Saving Private Ryan") often use vibrant colors, double exposures and other visual techniques for the fantasy sequences giving the film an appropriately surreal quality making this a visually astonishing and profoundly moving drama.
Mathieu Amalric ... Jean-Dominique Bauby
Emmanuelle Seigner ... Céline Desmoulins
Marie-Josée Croze ... Henriette Durand
Anne Consigny ... Claude
Patrick Chesnais ... Dr. Lepage
Niels Arestrup ... Roussin
Olatz Lopez Garmendia ... Marie Lopez
Jean-Pierre Cassel ... Père Lucien / Vendeur Lourdes
Marina Hands ... Joséphine
Max von Sydow ... Papinou