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"The Diving Bell And The Butterfly" *** 1/2

January 10, 2006

Off to The Charles to take in the Maryland Film Festival's special showing of this amazing French narrative based on the autobiography novel of the same title. Director Julian Schnabel ("Basquiat", "Before Night Falls") has crafted a stunning film that is truly one of a kind! It is shot mostly from the point of view of Jean-Dominique Bauby just after awakening from an extremely rare massive stroke in 1997 where the only body part he is able to move are his eyelids. As explained by the host, Dr. John McDonald, who directs the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and who worked with Christopher Reeves after his devasting accident, this condition results when the stroke occurs at the exact point where the brain stem meets the brain. Jean-Do was the fashion editor of "Elle" and despite the heaviness of the topic, it is amazingly effective in conveying the claustophobic feeling of living in this state of existence. Directing and technical winner at Cannes, as well as numerous other awards, this film will leave you literally breathless and moved me like no other film I've ever witnessed. Truly a starling filmic experience that makes you believe in hope and the human spirit when all appears lost.

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