TDB&TB Question #21 - Your Thoughts on the Film

by Jean-Dominique Bauby

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TDB&TB Question #21 - Your Thoughts on the Film

Unread postby Liz » Sun May 25, 2008 11:26 am

Finally we get to the film.....

What were your impressions of the film after watching it? (NOTE: tomorrow we will compare it with the book)
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Unread postby nebraska » Sun May 25, 2008 12:18 pm

As I do with most DVDs, I started out by watching the extras, including the interview with Schnabel. Then I watched the movie with the Director's Commentary. It gave me a greater appreciation for the craftsmanship and the special thought that went into filming the movie.

I found the movie very moving and beautiful. Hard to say too much without getting into a comparison to the book because that was certainly on my mind as I watched it. I thought the casting was very good. Jean-Do's mental voice over (what he wants to communicate but can't, for instance telling the orderly not to get in the way of that soccer play on the TV) was a really good method to explain that he was still mentally and emotionally whole. Being on the inside of Jean-Do's locked in body during the first part of the film gave it action and drama - different from how it might have looked if they had just shown a paralyzed man laying on a bed. Later, seeing him from the outside gave a greater appreciation of his condition. Seeing him from both inside and outside gave the audience a better understanding of his situation.

I recommended the movie to one friend who said oh, no, she could never watch something so sad. We are all just one heartbeat away from being in a similar situation; our bodies are fragile. I think that intimidates people. Schnabel's artistry made it less overwhelming without taking anything away from the tragedy.

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Unread postby Parlez » Sun May 25, 2008 1:35 pm

I knew going into the theatre to watch this movie that it was going to be tough. What I didn't expect was to find myself laughing - ever. But the scene where his friend puts the fur hat on Jean-Do's head and then you see the furry fringe from inside looking out was hilarious! I thought that approach, of seeing Jean-Do's world from his perspective, was brilliant. And the voice overs with the running commentary on what he was seeing and thinking added immeasurably for giving the audience a complete idea of who this man really was, as well as helping short-circuit the downer emotion that would otherwise have been overwhelming. The flashbacks - especially the trip to Lourdes - really rounded out the picture of who Jean-Do was and what his life was like prior to the accident.

The scenes of him at Berck were beautifully filmed and so filled with symbolism. For example, the image of him sitting all bundled up in his wheelchair atop that little platform/pier as the tide comes in and the ocean rises to surrounded him as he sits alone, isolated, and at the whim of the forces of nature.... Amazing!

But even though I was prepared for the tragic theme of the movie, I still wasn't prepared for the final sequence of scenes showing the day his stroke happened. I didn't realize how much tension had been created throughout the film as the audience was slowly set up to witness and experience 'the event'. That hit me like..well, like a tidal wave. :bawl:

Seeing the movie again on dvd gave me the chance to collect my emotions and appreciate more fully Schnabel's creative genius, as well as the technical mastery of the cinematographer. Also the amazing acting from everyone in the cast. What an incredible achievement!

And how thoroughly happy and relieved I am that this movie did not work out for Johnny.
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Unread postby nebraska » Sun May 25, 2008 2:20 pm

Parlez wrote:And how thoroughly happy and relieved I am that this movie did not work out for Johnny.


Parlez, I am curious why you are glad Johnny did not make the movie. I know he was very drawn to the role and it certainly would have been challenging for him. I would take absolutely nothing away from the actor who finally played the role, but Johnny would have been brilliant as well.

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Unread postby Liz » Sun May 25, 2008 3:09 pm

nebraska wrote:
Parlez wrote:And how thoroughly happy and relieved I am that this movie did not work out for Johnny.


Parlez, I am curious why you are glad Johnny did not make the movie. I know he was very drawn to the role and it certainly would have been challenging for him. I would take absolutely nothing away from the actor who finally played the role, but Johnny would have been brilliant as well.


Ladies, hold those Johnny thoughts :grin: as we will be discussing him in relation to this movie in a couple of days.
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Sun May 25, 2008 4:11 pm

Having read and enjoyed the book first, it was a joy to watch the movie so beautifully unfold...right from the first strains of La Mer (a song Johnny once called a favorite). I was curious about how they would convey each vignette and never disappointed. Can't improve on how nebraska and Parlez described the film making. :cool:
The scene with Jean-Do 'talking' on the phone with his dad, and 'talking' on the phone with his girlfriend, and the scene with the stroke were particularly gut wrenching, I thought. :bawl:
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun May 25, 2008 7:22 pm

Nice reviews, Noodlemantras! My favorite part of the movie was the cinematography, just brilliant. After reading the interview with the screenwriter and how he envisioned the film, I thought it was perfectly done. The symbolism, the setting (I can see why Schnabel insisted on shooting at Berck), the actors, the voice overs were all just first rate. Even though I knew what the end of the movie would be (at least I assumed) I was still on the edge of my chair when those scenes began. dh returned the movie to Netflix before I had a chance to watch the extras :banghead: so I will try and get it locally. nebraska, I would love to watch it with the director's commentary!
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Unread postby Liz » Sun May 25, 2008 8:01 pm

I wanted to review this movie again before I posted my comments, but didn't get around to renting the movie until later tonight. I think I'll watch it with the commentary on. Thanks for the idea, Nebraska. And I'll be watching the extras this time, myself. Didn't have the time the first time around.

But from what I remember, my main impressions were:

- that the cinematography was very very good!!!!! It allowed me to see the world from Jean-Do's perspective, as much as that is possible. It was also very pleasing to the eye.

- I loved the music

- the acting was very good

Those were the good impressions. I also felt it was slow at times and quite a downer. My DH was irritated with me for not telling him it would be depressing. I guess I wasn't expecting it to hit me that way.
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Unread postby nebraska » Mon May 26, 2008 11:26 am

Thanks for mentioning the music, Liz. I thought the music was outstanding!

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Unread postby Liz » Mon May 26, 2008 12:25 pm

nebraska wrote:Thanks for mentioning the music, Liz. I thought the music was outstanding!


And it was quite interesting to listen to Schnabel talk about the music.

Some things I didn’t realize before:


• The physical therapist in the movie was Schnabel’s wife.

• Max von Sydow’s son played the man by the train tracks, and the boy dancing there was Emmanuelle Seigner’s son with Roman Polanski.

• The patients you see in the hospital are real patients at Berck.

• I think he said that the nurse in the film was actually Jean-Do’s nurse.

Some things I found interesting:

• Schnabel compares Jean-Do to Jean Bauptiste Grenouille (Perfume). He felt Jean-Do could do with his imagination what Grenouille could do with his nose.

• The movie is dedicated to the son of the actor who played Jean-Do’s doctor. The 22 year old son died unexpectedly in a car accident the Thursday before the end of the filming of the movie.

I want to add that I loved the glaciers and I loved listening to the alphabet.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon May 26, 2008 2:47 pm

Thanks for the extra info, Liz! For those of us who may not see the extras that is very interesting. :cool:
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Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Parlez » Mon May 26, 2008 4:22 pm

Oooh the music! Yes! And the glaciers! I also found the recitation of the alphabet very soothing, especially in French. Nice additions, Liz! :cool:
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon May 26, 2008 10:24 pm

Here is a quote from Julian Schnabel from our tidbits discussing Grenouille and Jean Do.

As it happens, I had written a script for the movie Perfume which was never used. But Bernd Eichinger, the man who owned the rights, didn't want to make the movie I wanted to make. There is one thing that Grenouille had in common with Jean-Dominique Bauby. In both stories, the audience is the confidant of the main character. We know what's going on in Grenouille's head and we know what's going on in Jean-Do's head. There were many things I wanted to put into Perfume that I was able to put into this movie. I had the freedom. In one case the freedom of Grenouille's smell, in the other the freedom of Jean-Do's imagination. I could go through time, I could do whatever. So for me, as a filmmaker, as an artist, I thought it was a great opportunity to put whatever I wanted into the structure of a movie.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby fansmom » Mon May 26, 2008 10:36 pm

Liz wrote:I want to add that I loved the glaciers and I loved listening to the alphabet.
I'm pretty sure I heard Schnabel say that he'd had the glacier footage for some time and was just waiting for a film to use it in.

Listening to the alphabet was disconcerting to me, because the spelling was in French, but then the words were translated into English. Very confusing at first.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue May 27, 2008 7:46 am

Listening to the alphabet really brought home how difficult it must have been to write/transcribe the book and the tremendous amount of patience it required!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!


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