The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Movies like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly are why I love movies. It’s a motion picture that takes hold of you from the first frame and doesn’t let go until the end credits are rolling. It’s a true story of a guy who has a stroke that leaves him unable to do anything except blink one eye, and from that one blinking eye he writes a book and communicates with people.

In the opening shot (and for the first half hour of the film), we see what he sees after the stroke. His waking up. His distorted vision. We hear his voice — but no one else does because he’s unable to speak his thoughts. We hear his thoughts as he reacts to seeing his reflection for the first time, as orderlies clean his body that he can’t feel, as his children come to visit him, all of it. The experience of seeing what he sees is immediate and affective. (It’s also funny because he has a better sense of humour than most of the people around him.) I’ve never seen anything like it. I sat in my seat until the theatre lights came back on. It’s an extraordinary film.

About Phillip

Phillip Cairns is a beekeeper in St. John's, Newfoundland, who writes about beekeeping at

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