The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Synopsis: 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 descendi
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director(s): Julian Schnabel
Production: Miramax Films
  Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 66 wins & 95 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
112 min


Look! He's waking.

- Page Dr. Cocheton. Quickly.

Dr. Cocheton to room 119, please.

Mr. Bauby, open your eyes.

Open your eyes.

Mr. Bauby, open your eyes.

You've been asleep for a long time,

you're waking up now. Can you hear me?

Yes, I'm hearing you.

What's happening?

Jesus, a hospital.

Mr. Bauby, open your eyes wide.

Try to keep them open.

Yes, like that.

Follow this lamp with your eyes.


Don't be alarmed.

You're in a hospital.

I'm a doctor. My name's Cocheton.

These are nurses.

We're here to take care of you.

Do you remember what happened?

Do you remember what happened?

Just vague images

You're in the Naval Hospital, Berck-sur-Mer.

On the coast. At Calais.

You were treated first in Paris,

and then brought here.

Do you remember that?


You've had a stroke.

You've been in a coma for

almost three weeks.

But now you're waking up and you'll be fine.

I promise you.

Thank you

- I have to give you some simple tests.

Keep your eyes on me.


Follow my finger.


When I say blink,

please blink.


Now, tell me your name.

Jean-Dominique Bauby.

- Come on, try

I just did.

- Try really hard, say your name.

Jean-Dominique Bauby.

Try saying your children's names.

Thophile, Cleste, Hortense.

Don't worry.

It's a slow process.

But your speech will come back.

What? Can't you hear me, doctor?


What's happening? I can't speak.

They can't hear me.

Oh my God.

I can't speak.

What's happened to me?

My name is Jean-Dominique Bauby.


All right, all right.

I've had a stroke my speech'll

come back my memory will come back

Everything will be alright, Mr. Bauby.

We are here to care for you.

I'll be patient.


Ok, I believe you.

Who brought these flowers?



Did you sleep well?

Let's see.

You're going to have an important visitor.

Dr. Lepage, your neurologist.

So we want you at your very best.

Good morning.

I'm Alain Lepage, your neurologist.

You know Dr. Cocheton, of course.


no, no, your friends call you Jean-Do.

So that's what I'm going to call you.

Think of me as your friend.

Sure Doctor.

As a friend I know how

difficult this is for you.

Nobody here has explained to

you the full extent of your condition.

You've had what we call a

cerebrovascular accident.

It's put your brain stem out of action.

The brain stem is an essential

component of our internal computer

the link between the brain

and the spinal cord.

In the past, we would have

said you'd had a massive stroke.

You would very

probably have died.

But now we have such improved

resuscitation techniques

that we're able to prolong life.

Is this life?

Is this life?

- Yes, prolong life.

I'm not going to mince words,

Jean-Do. You are completely paralyzed.

You have realised you are unable to speak.

You have what we call...

...'locked-in syndrome'.

locked-in syndrome.

- Locked-in syndrome.

It will be of no comfort to you but your

condition is extremely rare.

And we simply don't know the cause.

You don't smoke and you're

not a heavy drinker.

It just happened all of a sudden.

However, apart from being totally

paralysed... are normal in every other respect.


- There is hope.

Your brain is functioning.

You're able to understand us.

You follow our movements with your eyes.

Although I'm not entirely

happy with your right eye.

This muscle doesn't work, see?

The eye doesn't get moisturized.

I'm afraid we have to cover that.

Don't we?

- Cover?

What does he want to cover?

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Ronald Harwood

Sir Ronald Harwood, CBE, FRSL (born Ronald Horwitz; 9 November 1934) is an author, playwright and screenwriter. He is most noted for his plays for the British stage as well as the screenplays for The Dresser (for which he was nominated for an Oscar) and The Pianist, for which he won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. He was nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007). more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 12 May 2021. <>.

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