From the first time I saw “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” I fell in love with it. It remains in my top 5 list of all time favorite movies – and one that I have seen a multitude of times with my students throughout the years. In 2007, artist and director Julian Schnabel created a film that is a work of art – an affirmation of what it means to really live – to be resilient – and never – even in the worst times of our lives – ever – ever give up hope!

The movie is a biopic like you’ve never seen – based on the incredible true story of Jean-Dominic Bauby – a very successful man who was suddenly immobilized by a stroke – but found the inner strength to break from his boundaries – through the power of imagination and love. I always explain to my students the power of the symbolism in this film – how our diving bells – our challenges or obstacles in life – are actually the key or door for unexpected forms of freedom – greater self-expression and growth – our butterflies. As I have sat in isolation for the past weeks in my own diving bell, I have been drawn to this movie for inspiration – guidance and support. Isn’t that what art and movies should be all about?

Schnabel’s direction infuses this movie with maturity, incredible visual technique, sweetness, and wisdom. This is a masterpiece you will not soon forget. Its immediacy – in these current times – is extraordinary.

I heed to this advise given in the movie, “Hold fast to the human inside of you, and you’ll survive.”

Wishing you all love – and butterflies.


The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
(Available to stream on HBO)

Directed by Julian Schnabel
Written by Ronald Harwood
Starring Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josée Croze, Anne Consigny, Max von Sydow

Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric), editor-in-chief of French fashion bible Elle magazine, has a devastating stroke at age 43. The damage to his brain stem results in locked-in syndrome, with which he is almost completely paralyzed and only able to communicate by blinking an eye. Bauby painstakingly dictates his memoir via the only means of expression left to him.