8.0/10
89,128
174 user 259 critic

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

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

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

ON DISC
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.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (book)
Reviews
Popularity
4,560 ( 40)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 66 wins & 92 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Sea Inside I (2004)
Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The factual story of Spaniard Ramon Sampedro, who fought a thirty-year campaign in favor of euthanasia and his own right to die.

Director: Alejandro Amenábar
Stars: Javier Bardem, Belén Rueda, Lola Dueñas
Amour (2012)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested.

Director: Michael Haneke
Stars: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert
Talk to Her (2002)
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Two men share an odd friendship while they care for two women who are both in deep comas.

Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Stars: Rosario Flores, Javier Cámara, Darío Grandinetti
Persepolis (2007)
Animation | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A precocious and outspoken Iranian girl grows up during the Islamic Revolution.

Directors: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Stars: Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Gena Rowlands
A Prophet (2009)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A young Arab man is sent to a French prison where he becomes a mafia kingpin.

Director: Jacques Audiard
Stars: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A young man romantically pursues his masochistic piano teacher.

Director: Michael Haneke
Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Annie Girardot, Benoît Magimel
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The life story of singer Édith Piaf.

Director: Olivier Dahan
Stars: Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A woman assists her friend in arranging an illegal abortion in 1980s Romania.

Director: Cristian Mungiu
Stars: Anamaria Marinca, Vlad Ivanov, Laura Vasiliu
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Young Esteban wants to become a writer and also to discover the identity of his father, carefully concealed by his mother Manuela.

Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Stars: Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes, Candela Peña
Drama | Music | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A woman struggles to find a way to live her life after the death of her husband and child.

Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Stars: Juliette Binoche, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Julie Delpy
Melancholia (2011)
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide with Earth.

Director: Lars von Trier
Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland
Rust and Bone (2012)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Put in charge of his young son, Alain leaves Belgium for Antibes to live with his sister and her husband as a family. Alain's bond with Stephanie, a killer whale trainer, grows deeper after Stephanie suffers a horrible accident.

Director: Jacques Audiard
Stars: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Armand Verdure
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Patrick Chesnais ...
Le Docteur Lepage
...
Olatz López Garmendia ...
Marie Lopez
...
...
...
Papinou
Gérard Watkins ...
Théo Sampaio ...
Théophile
Fiorella Campanella ...
Céleste
Talina Boyaci ...
Hortense
...
Laurent
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

Let your imagination set you free

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

|

Language:

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)

Gross:

$5,990,075 (USA) (4 April 2008)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2006 Blacklist; a list of the "most liked" unmade scripts of the year. See more »

Goofs

Jean-Dominique shaves his father's mustache, removing the shaving cream. In the next shot, his mustache is covered with shaving cream again. In the following shot, the shaving cream is gone again. See more »

Quotes

Jean-Dominique Bauby: My diving bell has dragged you down to the bottom of the sea, with me.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in House: Locked In (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Lolita Love Theme
(Bob Harris (as Robert J. Harris))
© Chappell & Co with the authorization of Warner Chappell Music France
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A film of enormous power
12 January 2008 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

Though not paralyzed from head to toe like French fashion magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, many of us are in the "locked-in" syndrome – locked into our resentments and our fears, a rigidity that sours us on life and keep us estranged from family and friends. Julian Schnabel's masterful The Diving Bell and the Butterfly allows us to better appreciate the simple pleasures in life by dramatizing the debilitating trauma faced by the 43-year old editor who suffered a massive stroke that left him unable to speak or to move his head and whose only means of communication was to blink one eye – one blink for yes, two blinks for no.

Beautifully shot by cinematographer Janusz Kaminski with a screenplay by Ronald Harwood, the film begins with Bauby's confused awakening in the hospital after twenty days in a coma. We see only a blur of images and claustrophobic close-ups that mirror the patient's mental state. We can make out a hospital room and doctors and nurses offering reassuring thoughts. We hear Bauby's words but the doctors do not and we know that while his body isn't functioning, his mind is as sharp as ever. With the help of a speech therapist (Marie-Josée Croze), and a very patient transcriber, a code is developed that allows Bauby (Mathieu Amalric), called Jean-Do by his friends and family, to compose a book based on his experience.

When the therapist recites the most-frequently used letters in the French alphabet, Bauby blinks when he wants to choose a letter. The book, on which the film is based, was published in 1997, shortly after Bauby's death. One of the most dramatic moments in the film occurs near the beginning when the first thought Jean-Do communicates is that he wants to die. Feeling rejected and angry, the therapist stomps out of the room but apologizes and comes back shortly to resume the treatment. We do not actually see Jean-Do until about a third of the way through the film but we can hear his thoughts which are in turn angry, funny, and bitterly ironic. Bauby compares his body to a deep-sea diver being suffocated in a diving suit and his poetic imagination to a butterfly.

It is Jean-Do's sense of humor that keeps the film as light as it can be under the circumstances and his eloquence that keeps us riveted. When we finally do see him with his immobile body and his drooping lower lip, it is still a shock but we smile when he says that "I look like I came out of a vat of formaldehyde." Much of the film vividly explores the editor's imagination and the camera takes us on some wild rides that include images of Nijinsky, Empress Eugénie, Marlon Brando, and Jean-Do in his imagination skiing and surfing. Some of the most emotional moments occur when he greets his young children at the beach for the first time after his stroke, a telephone "conversation" with his 92-year old father (Max Von Sydow), and flashbacks to his youth - driving with his girlfriend, shaving his father, supervising a fashion shoot, and taking his son on a trip in a new sports car. Bauby's wife Céline (Emmanuelle Seigner), whom he left for exotic girlfriend Ines (Agathe de La Fontaine), visits him in the hospital and comforts him while Ines cannot bring herself to see him, saying that she wants to remember him the way he was.

Realizing how his life had been less than exemplary, his stroke becomes an opportunity for redemption and allows him, if not to cleanse his soul, to discover that humanity lies in his consciousness not in material things or sexuality. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a film of enormous power that shakes us and enables us to get in touch with the miracle of each moment. Schnabel says that his purpose in making the film was to tell "the story of all of us, who surely do face death and sickness. But if we look", he says, "we can find meaning and beauty here." There is enough of both meaning and beauty to make The Diving Bell and the Butterfly one of the best films of the year.


95 of 113 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Favourite foreign films! chrisadamz
This movie was terrible! amaranthine_glory
It's difficult for me to distinguish the women characters in this movie? badboylh
Boring, predictable and unable to put u inside the character bernatdg
Did you cry? danielbaird-1
was i the only one who was a bit taken back..... ElliottJMead
Discuss The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?