The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)



Critic Consensus: Breathtaking visuals and dynamic performances make The Diving Bell and the Butterfly a powerful biopic.

Movie Info

The astonishing true-life story of Jean-Dominic Bauby -- a man who held the world in his palm, lost everything to sudden paralysis at 43 years old, and somehow found the strength to rebound -- first touched the world in Bauby's best-selling autobiography The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (aka La Scaphandre et la Papillon), then in Jean-Jacques Beineix's half-hour 1997 documentary of Bauby at work, released under the same title, and, ten years after that, in this Cannes-selected docudrama, helmed … More

Rating: PG-13 (for nudity, sexual content and some language)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Ronald Harwood, Ronald Hardwood
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 29, 2008
Box Office: $5.9M
Miramax Films - Official Site


as Jean-Dominique Bauby

as Celine Desmoulins

as Henriette Roi

as Dr. Lepage

as Father Lucien/Shopke...

as Joséphine

as Dr. Cocheton

as Théophile

as Céleste Bauby

as Hortense Bauby

as Empress Eugenie

as Betty

as Noirtier de Villefor...

as Madame Bauby

as Fourneau

as Nursing Auxiliary 2

as Young Jean-Dominque

as Auxiliary Nurse 1

as Night Nurse

as Paraplegic at Lourde...

as Violinist

as Jean-Baptiste Mondin...
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

All Critics (164) | Top Critics (48)

What's fascinating is that it is the very restrictions the story imposes on a director that allow Schnabel to turn it into such an eerie stunner of a movie.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Top Critic

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is one of the best movies of 2007, but I'd argue it's also the one most in tune with what this season of goodwill and tolerance is supposed to be all about.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Toronto Star
Top Critic

An inventive, challenging, at times emotionally bracing film, audaciously staged and laudably anti-clichéd in its character particulars, yet destined to be more admired than beloved.

Full Review… | April 28, 2011
East Bay Express

Julian Schnabel and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski fundamentally retool the template for the biopic to create one of the greatest portrayals of the mind's eye ever put to film. A discomforting but inspiring struggle for one enduring, final expression.

Full Review… | September 25, 2010

This uncommon story about an uncommon man is gentle, it is patient, it is compassionate and -- from a technical standpoint -- it is stunning.

Full Review… | October 9, 2009

Triumph of the human spirit to the Miramax, predictable in its crowd-pleasing, middlebrow vulgarity but with a few inventive, free-floating passages

Full Review… | August 27, 2009

Audience Reviews for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

One of the most stunning emotional knockouts recorded in cinematic history concerning an editor (Mathieu Amalric) who suffers a massive stroke, but remains determined to write his memoirs of his experiences through communicating with the only part of his body that isn't paralyzed, one of his eyes, to an aide. What director Julian Schnabel has constructed is an unnerving, extremely personal masterpiece in struggling to overcome an affliction, and the self-doubts, guilt, anger, and fleeting hope one encounters along the way. The acting is very good, although that is not what is most impressive about the film, which is how it is told through Amalric's character's perspective, showing just how much of a struggle something like this can be. While it is relentlessly sad, it is powerful and incredibly moving all the way through. This is a movie that should be a must-see for anyone who knows someone dealing with a stroke or some other kind of physical ailment. It does a flawless job capturing the emotional cycle and inner-thoughts of someone who deals with it, somehow, someway.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer


Bold first-person film-making reigns in this true story that reminds us that our lives can be changed completely at any given moment: a well-to-do magazine editor suffers a stroke and becomes paralyzed save for the blinking of one eye. Through a therapist's inventive solution - a board of letters starting with those most commonly used - he learns to communicate by answering yes or no to the letters, and thus writes his autobiography. Bit of a one-note film, overall, but touching and shot in creative manner true to the source's autobiographical nature.

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer


Terrific! That's the thing I was talking about!

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Quotes

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