181 user 261 critic

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

Le scaphandre et le papillon (original title)
PG-13 | | Biography, Drama | 1 February 2008 (USA)
2:19 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $1.99 (SD) on Prime Video

The true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby who suffers a stroke and has to live with an almost totally paralyzed body; only his left eye isn't paralyzed.



(screenplay), (book)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 66 wins & 95 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Olatz López Garmendia ...
Marie Lopez
Père Lucien et le Vendeur
Gérard Watkins ...
Le Docteur Cocheton
Théo Sampaio ...
Fiorella Campanella ...
Talina Boyaci ...


Forty-three year old Elle magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby - Jean-Do to his friends - awakens not knowing where he is. He is in a Berck-sur-Mer hospital, where he has been for the past several weeks in a coma after suffering a massive stroke. Although his cognitive facilities are in tact, he quickly learns that he has what is called locked-in syndrome which has resulted in him being almost completely paralyzed, including not being able to speak. One of his few functioning muscles is his left eye. His physical situation and hospitalization uncomfortably bring together the many people in his life, including: Céline Desmoulins, his ex-lover and mother of his children; Inès, his current lover; and his aged father who he calls Papinou. Among his compassionate recuperative team are his physical therapist Marie, and his speech therapist Henriette. Henriette eventually teaches him to communicate using a system where he spells out words: she reads out the letters of the alphabet in ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Let your imagination set you free


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for nudity, sexual content and some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

1 February 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office

Opening Weekend:

€403,978 (France), 27 May 2007, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$75,721, 2 December 2007, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$5,990,075, 6 April 2008
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In real life, John-Dominique had two children, not three. The filmmakers could not decide between the three final children vying for the roles, and it was decided to grant all three children parts. See more »


At about 15 minutes left in the film, the right side of Bauby's lip is shown to be drooping, whereas throughout the film it was the left side that drooped. See more »


Papinou: Having a mistress is no excuse for leaving the mother of your children; the world has lost its values.
See more »


Follows Assigné à résidence (1997) See more »


Green Grass
(Tom Waits (as T. Waits) / Kathleen Brennan (as K. Brennan))
Performed by Tom Waits
© 2004 Jalma Music c/o BMG Music Publishing France
With the authorization of BMG Music Vision
© 2004 Anti, Inc. Courtesy of Anti, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

28 December 2007 | by See all my reviews

The immersion into the life of a man that is a part of a horrific event, where just about all seems lost and where he becomes literally trapped with in his own body can be heart-achingly depressing, however, it was actually, due to poetic direction, a mesmerizing, stylistic and somewhat uplifting story. The air was a little sweeter, after the viewing since life becomes more appreciated. This movie helps you appreciate the finer things in life and realize all that we take for granted.

Giving the film a surreal feel as though in a dream we witness a collage of memories, imaginations and actual dreams. From this, along with actual visits from loved ones we get an understanding of the man's life before the accident. It is filmed from the stroke victim's point of view. You see exactly what he sees, such as when his eye gets weak and things get blurry. We are also exposed to the man's thoughts as we hear him talking to the people about his feelings and what he wants to say despite being mute, and not being heard by the people. His thoughts give realness to the character and show us that he is still human. He even finds humor in his situation and says, to the nurse that doesn't hear him, "you need to get a sense of humor".

Overall a message about life. At the peak of this mans life an extremely severe paralysis befalls him. At first understandably pitying himself he is able to find some humor in his situation, (and parts of the movie actually make you laugh) and then inspiration. Inspiration stemming from realization that his imagination and memory are in tact. He can feel good using his mind and can even be creative and productive.

38 of 47 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 181 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page