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Thursday, March 19, 2009

This week at SFC: The Diving Bell and The Butterfly

BUILDING 7 (front stairs)

The Studiofilmclub is located in the front foyer space of building 7.

Our screenings are FREE and all are welcome.

doors open 7:30 - film starts 8:15 pm.

The Studio Film club presents the four time Academy Award nominated "The Diving Bell and The butterfly" directed by Julian Schnabel.

The Diving bell and the Butterfly is a true story about Elle magazine power player Jean- Dominique Bauby who suffered a severe cerebral-vascular accident that resulted in a rare condition known even in French as "locked-in syndrome." he is completely paralyzed save for one eyelid, but fully alert and conscious. His only means of communication is through blinking that eye. In his 1997 book of the same name, Jean-Do (as he prefers) vividly likens this condition to being trapped, semi-buoyant, in a diving bell beneath the water, the heavy brass suit with a hose to the surface. No words can be heard, no movement made.
Thanks to the staff at the hospital in which he resides, particularly speech therapist Henriette Durand and transcriber Claude Mendibil, he is able to write his story.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly/2007/112mins/France:USA

We wake up when he does, out of a coma of weeks' length, to discover that he is buried alive in his own body: He's frozen, unable to move his body except for one eyelid. It's absolutely horrifying, not just for the sympathy it evokes but
for how director Julian Schnabel puts us so entirely in the head of stroke victim Jean-Dominique Bauby that you experience his horror: the camera blinks Bauby's panic and disorientation as faces swim in and out of view, as voices burble up as if from underwater, as the nightmare reality sets in. He -- we -- cannot move. Schnabel eventually lets us out of Bauby's head as the limits of his recovery are explored, but we never forget feeling as if we are at Schnabel's small mercy -- we always are, of course, forced to see a cinematic story through a filmmaker's eyes, but this is an astonishing reminder of that, which makes The Diving Bell and the Butterfly as intellectually gripping as it is emotionally compelling.
Based on the true story of Bauby, a French magazine editor who suffered a massive stroke in 1995 when he was only 43 and a vigorously alive and vibrant man, this is adapted from the book he laboriously wrote after his brain trauma by blinking out words, one letter at a time, with the help of a speech therapist, about, well, what he learned about the meaning of life by almost dying and having his world reduced to almost nothing. This is not, however, one of those easy or charming movies about overcoming adversity -- Bauby was a complicated man, and the astonishing
performance by Mathieu Amalric (he'll appear in the new Bond movie Quantum of Solace) makes it tough to actually like Bauby. Now nominated for four Oscars -- including for Janusz Kaminski's eerie cinematography, Schnabel's direction (the native New Yorker actually learned French so he could tell this story in its native language), and Ronald Harwood's adapted screenplay -- this truly is one of the best, most haunting films of 2007.


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