Imagine if, all of a sudden, you could no longer do anything but see out of one eye, hear, smell, and think. You couldn't move any part of your body, you couldn't speak, you had no way to communicate to those who were talking to you, and you had no idea how you came to be in this state. And then imagine that you learned you were going to remain in this condition for the rest of your life.
Think of all of the things you would've done, the places you would've gone, and the people you would've shared your feelings with if you knew those privileges were suddenly going to disappear.
Pretty scary, huh? Unfortunately, all of this actually happened to the editor-in-chief at Elle magazine, Jean-Dominique Bauby. He suffered a massive stroke at age 42, and it left him with the extremely rare "locked-in syndrome." Everything was paralyzed except for his left eyelid.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is Bauby's story, and it is nothing short of amazing. The movie is based on the book of the same name that he dictated to a nurse by blinking his left eye in a pattern that they had established for common letters. It will make you feel pretty guilty for ever laying around on a weekend and procrastinating, let me tell you!
The film is in French with subtitles, but I didn't find that to be distracting at all, as many of the scenes are extremely visual. It's definitely a unique film and at first I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, but it grew on me quickly and I would highly recommend seeing it, if for no other reason than I think it's good to be reminded of how lucky and blessed the vast majority of us are, and how we shouldn't take things for granted.
While some people could find this movie depressing, its intent was just the opposite. It's a story about the human spirit and the will to live. It's about learning who really has your back when bad things happen, and about putting things in perspective and remembering what is truly important in life. Between scenes of Bauby's rehabilitation and flashbacks of his high-flying life pre-stroke, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly pieces together one man's life while forcing us to reflect on our own.
I think that if you don't outright cry during this movie, or at least well up, you need to see a doctor and check to ensure you are human. That being said, I laughed as well, and I was by no means sad when the credits rolled. You can check out the trailer below which is about two minutes long and see what you think:
I'm not the only one who liked it... It's won about ten million awards! So if you're in the mood to be a bit reflective and contemplative, or just want to learn this man's amazing true story, then The Diving Bell and the Butterfly should be high on your list of movie rentals.