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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
"Le scaphandre et le papillon" (original title)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  1 February 2008 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 86,330 users   Metascore: 92/100
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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)
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 64 wins & 86 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Patrick Chesnais ...
Le Docteur Lepage
Olatz López Garmendia ...
Marie Lopez
Gérard Watkins ...
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:

$75,721 (USA) (30 November 2007)


$5,990,075 (USA) (4 April 2008)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


To familiarize himself with Bauby's sheltered existence, director Julian Schnabel made the movie in the same hospital where Bauby was treated, meeting many of the orderlies who had treated him. He also shot scenes on the same balcony where Bauby relaxed, and on the same nearby beach his family took him to. See more »


When Jean-Dominique goes on a boat ride, a 'Speedferries' vessel can be seen in the background. Speedferries started business in 2004, years after the movie was set. See more »


Jean-Dominique Bauby: We're all children, we all need approval.
See more »


Referenced in The Office: Trivia (2012) 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 »

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User Reviews

The films places you inside the author's head and keeps you there.
15 December 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Earlier this year, a good friend, avid reader and film buff informed me that one of her favorite books was the basis for a film which recently won awards at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. I knew nothing of the novel or the film so she offered me the book to read. I enjoyed the story but didn't completely appreciate its depth until I recently got a sneak peek at the film.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is about Jean-Dominique Bauby, (Mathieu Amalric) a popular editor of the French fashion magazine 'Elle.' At age 43 he is stricken with a stroke leaving him with lock-in syndrome, a medical condition that, except for his left eye, rendered him completely immobile. In fear of his right eye becoming "septic" doctors quickly stitched the eye shut.

This sealing of that eye is an early scene, which is so perfectly shot that it places you inside Bauby's head and body, and keeps you there for the entire film. You see the world as he views it while desiring to be free of the paralyzing feeling of a sinking diving bell. At other times, with his imagination, you find yourself fluttering as free as a butterfly.

Bauby wrote his story with the use of a unique sequence of letters specifically designed so he could blink his eye to communicate as he created every single word of his story.

This film is in no way depressing. The cinematography is brilliantly captured. Everyone was completely captivated by the screenplay as we experienced life deep inside Bauby's body, mind and soul. For the entire 2+ hours, you won't want to be anyplace else.

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