The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 179 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 12 out of 179

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User Reviews

  1. May 4, 2016
    9
    The Diving Bell and the Butterfly brings a real-time experience for those who has ever wanted to join in the many adventures of this film and has ever wanted to know how much it takes for them to work on something based on something brilliant.
  2. Nov 24, 2014
    7
    In "The Diving Bell And The Butterfly," the pairing of Julian Schnabel's clever directorial skills and Mathieu Amalric's stellar acting chops results in a truly memorable and brave film with rich thematic threads.
  3. Nov 17, 2012
    10
    The Diving Bell and the Butterfly offers up a kind of harmonic tranquility that's just too good to resist. Watching it is like taking that hot shower after a long, debilitating day, and having that numbing ecstasy wash through your bones.
  4. BKM
    May 30, 2013
    8
    Right from the very first scene when Jean-Do awakes from a coma to learn that he is paralyzed and unable to speak, we are pulled right into the fear, grief and loneliness that he is enduring. But as he refuses to be a victim locked in his own body, we also share in his joy, love and hope and get a first hand account of his memories and imagination. A truly resonant film that takes you onRight from the very first scene when Jean-Do awakes from a coma to learn that he is paralyzed and unable to speak, we are pulled right into the fear, grief and loneliness that he is enduring. But as he refuses to be a victim locked in his own body, we also share in his joy, love and hope and get a first hand account of his memories and imagination. A truly resonant film that takes you on a journey into one man's unbreakable spirit. Expand
  5. Sep 29, 2010
    9
    The Diving Bell and The Butterfly is seriously one of the best films I have ever seen, and I am just going to disregard anything anyone is going to say about it. I have never felt so emotional when watching a movie, it is truly beautifully miserable; Not to mention that the acting crew is brilliant.
  6. Sep 18, 2015
    10
    A visually spectacular powerhouse of a true story. One of the best films of the 21st century so far, although the very artistic the style isn't for a lot of tastes, people who are fine with the film's style will certainly have a great time!
  7. Jun 18, 2012
    8
    The French drama film provides an exceptionally powerful message that nothing is as precious as our consciousness through a miraculous and inspirational story of a guy who lost almost all of his physical senses except for only one, his consciousness. Despite how naturally the story progressed, the movie evokes such powerful inner subject of life that it is difficult not to be aware andThe French drama film provides an exceptionally powerful message that nothing is as precious as our consciousness through a miraculous and inspirational story of a guy who lost almost all of his physical senses except for only one, his consciousness. Despite how naturally the story progressed, the movie evokes such powerful inner subject of life that it is difficult not to be aware and realize the fact of how blessed we are to be born and be well at present time. An immensely inspirational film. Expand
  8. Mar 31, 2014
    8
    The cinematography is so beautiful, you just wish that the plot went deeper into the questions about life it raises. The storytelling's simplicity does not mirror the visuals' ambiguity.
  9. Nov 26, 2011
    8
    The Diving Bell and the Butterfly paints a pretty picture that can be brought into a full length film. This inspirational feature is based on a true story about a man who becomes a vegetable for the rest of his life and somehow later can communicate by only blinking one eye, which leads him to pursue his imagination in writing a story. The motifs and symbolism in the film keeps youThe Diving Bell and the Butterfly paints a pretty picture that can be brought into a full length film. This inspirational feature is based on a true story about a man who becomes a vegetable for the rest of his life and somehow later can communicate by only blinking one eye, which leads him to pursue his imagination in writing a story. The motifs and symbolism in the film keeps you thinking at first, but once you analyze those motifs, you will understand perfectly as to why those themes are there, including to add the things from the title of the film to the actual plot itself. The use of the camera movement and spaces are natural and unique compared to a typical Hollywood flick, though beware of many extreme-close ups and canted angles in this film if you have a fear of claustrophobic spaces. However those chosen spaces and shots are used for a reasonable purpose. For artistic filmmakers alike, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a must recommend feature to view. Expand
  10. Jun 13, 2011
    9
    Definitely one of the best films of the year. This film is very beautiful and moving. An idea is fresh and stunning. "Let your imagination set you free".
  11. AshlyG.
    Mar 2, 2008
    7
    For a story that is this unfilmable, Shnabel should be applauded at keeping the audience watching the entire time!
  12. MattF
    May 7, 2008
    10
    This was not only the best film of 2007 but one of the best film of the century - no, of all time. It was beautiful, engaging, heartbreaking, uplifting, and funny. I loved this movie. It meant more to me than anything else released last year, and said a lot more about life, death, and what keeps us going. Because of this film, I now hate "Million Dollar Baby," with its dehumanizing This was not only the best film of 2007 but one of the best film of the century - no, of all time. It was beautiful, engaging, heartbreaking, uplifting, and funny. I loved this movie. It meant more to me than anything else released last year, and said a lot more about life, death, and what keeps us going. Because of this film, I now hate "Million Dollar Baby," with its dehumanizing depiction of paralyzed people. Expand
  13. [Anonymous]
    Dec 1, 2007
    10
    Best film of the year. Funny, moving, artful. I saw it at a screening a few weeks ago and can't get it out of my mind.
  14. BryanW.
    Dec 3, 2007
    10
    Only someone with the creative vision as broad as Julian Schnabel could make a film this free about a man locked in his own body. Simply amazing...
  15. JimmyS
    Dec 22, 2008
    10
    Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric) has given us Julian Schnabel
  16. DougN.
    Feb 4, 2008
    9
    Really enjoyed this movie. It's probably not for every one. But it made me think. Found the scenes with his wife and children very moving.We with good health take so much for granted.
  17. Paul
    Mar 20, 2008
    10
    I dont like many films. They bore me. I want real stories. The art is in the story-telling not the action. A good story is not one whose content is WOW. It's one which is well told. A good story teller can captivate you with tales of how he does his grocery shopping. The plot of this film is simple. Man enters coma. Man tries to get better. Man writes book. The End. No guns. No I dont like many films. They bore me. I want real stories. The art is in the story-telling not the action. A good story is not one whose content is WOW. It's one which is well told. A good story teller can captivate you with tales of how he does his grocery shopping. The plot of this film is simple. Man enters coma. Man tries to get better. Man writes book. The End. No guns. No fighting. No sex. Beautifully told. The French have a nack for producing films with a strong artistic bent. Beautifully shot. Dripping with philosophyical weight. This is one such movie. Every 5 minutes a new seed for thought is planted, allowed to flourish and cut down. I implore you to watch this film if you have a concentration span of more than 5 minutes. Typical of criticisms are responses like those ushered by the Time magazine reviewer where he "began to hear a subversive voice whispering in my ear, and what it was saying was, "Could you blink a little faster, pal?" " I cant help but notice the irony when the film questions our "want it all, now" culture by contrasting his life as the editor of a superficial magazine with one where he is forced to think. Indeed it is in this contrast that much character development lies. In subtleties rather than plotlines reminiscent of epic Shakesperean tragedies. Go see it. Collapse
  18. JohnB.
    Apr 8, 2008
    10
    Wow, I was blown away by this movie. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly truly is an experience. The visuals are simply stunning. The characters presented are so real and humanistic. The material here IS depressing but you are immediately thrown into the mind of Bauby, who never asks for sympathy, yet never ignores the struggles he goes through. We got the rare opportunity to experience the Wow, I was blown away by this movie. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly truly is an experience. The visuals are simply stunning. The characters presented are so real and humanistic. The material here IS depressing but you are immediately thrown into the mind of Bauby, who never asks for sympathy, yet never ignores the struggles he goes through. We got the rare opportunity to experience the real human that is in every one of us. Schnabel convinces us we ARE Bauby by using the camera in unique ways. It's interesting. a camera is essentially one eye on set and we are able to see through that one eye, the same one being Bauby's. The camera IS Bauby's eye, the only one he can see through. Absolutely fantastic. Expand
  19. GaryR
    Jun 10, 2008
    10
    Filmaking at its best...you feel as if you are inside of the main character experiencing all of his suffering. The scene where the doctor sews his bad eye shut is so unnerving that you want to look away but cannot. This film should have been nominated for best picture...it's that good.
  20. CindyA.
    Feb 25, 2009
    10
    I rented this 3 times and always talked myself out of watching it because I didn't want to be depressed. I am so glad I experienced this. I didn't feel depression. I'm not quite sure what I felt. But i saw and felt things I never have before. During the movie I found my body to be still and my breathing barely audible. It just does something to you. The direction, camera I rented this 3 times and always talked myself out of watching it because I didn't want to be depressed. I am so glad I experienced this. I didn't feel depression. I'm not quite sure what I felt. But i saw and felt things I never have before. During the movie I found my body to be still and my breathing barely audible. It just does something to you. The direction, camera work, the script...all amazing. Absolutely stunning. Expand
  21. RandyM
    Nov 15, 2008
    10
    Utterly stunning. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a beautiful and powerful experience that should not be missed.
  22. austinw
    Jan 17, 2008
    10
    one of the best films i've ever seen, and the first 10 i've ever given on metacritic. profoundly moving. easily the best film I've seen all year. i never cared for schnabel as a painter, but as a filmmaker, he is outstanding.
  23. AnnB.
    Jan 5, 2008
    9
    This was just a beautifully made film about a man who is physically immobilized by a rare form of stroke, whose brain is extremely active and sharp. When the film opens, we see the world through Jean-Do's eyes and mind then move on to his family, friends and medical staff who care for him with flashbacks along the way. Great acting by the whole cast.
  24. BillyS.
    Feb 2, 2008
    8
    How do you make a painfully sad story and turn it into a beautiful life-affirming movie? Answer-Julian Schnabel. The Diving Bell and The Butterfly is the masterpiece everyone knew that Schnabel was destined to make after Basquiat and Before Night Falls introduced his work in a new medium. Once again he has cast the movie impeccably and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski films a good part of How do you make a painfully sad story and turn it into a beautiful life-affirming movie? Answer-Julian Schnabel. The Diving Bell and The Butterfly is the masterpiece everyone knew that Schnabel was destined to make after Basquiat and Before Night Falls introduced his work in a new medium. Once again he has cast the movie impeccably and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski films a good part of the movie through the one working eye of Jean-Dominique Bauby that proves he doesn't need Speilberg to get an Oscar nomination, which like Scnabels for Director and Ronald Harwoods for Screenplay, are totally deserving. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is as close you'll get to "Film as Art" as you'll ever get. Expand
  25. DavidS.
    Feb 27, 2008
    10
    A visually stunning movie that almost re-invents cinema as it deals with consciousness, what it means to be human and how we as viewers perceive this in the rendition offered by the film. The scenes early on after Bauby's paralyzing car accident, are a mixture of acerbic humour and heartbreaking moments. Gradually, as Bauby gets used to his condition, the film becomes more A visually stunning movie that almost re-invents cinema as it deals with consciousness, what it means to be human and how we as viewers perceive this in the rendition offered by the film. The scenes early on after Bauby's paralyzing car accident, are a mixture of acerbic humour and heartbreaking moments. Gradually, as Bauby gets used to his condition, the film becomes more heartbreaking as seeing his children, speaking to his absent lover through his ex-wife. The decision to show the car accident that paralyzed him towards the end of the film is brilliant, leaving the viewer to contemplate the 'locked-in' syndrome for themselves. Expand
  26. ChadS.
    Feb 7, 2008
    10
    A blow-by-blow account of cognitive activity from the abyss; that's the unprecedented achievement of "The Diving Bell & the Butterfly", a film that somehow manages to be a spectacle of unconditional love while remaining intellectually rigorous. If you're in need of a clue as to why beautiful women fawn all over Jean-Dominique Bauby(Mathieu Amalric), aside from being the former A blow-by-blow account of cognitive activity from the abyss; that's the unprecedented achievement of "The Diving Bell & the Butterfly", a film that somehow manages to be a spectacle of unconditional love while remaining intellectually rigorous. If you're in need of a clue as to why beautiful women fawn all over Jean-Dominique Bauby(Mathieu Amalric), aside from being the former editor-in-chief of Elle; the camera, his eye(the other eye suffered a death by non-irrigation), provides the answer. As Jean-Dominique's physician extols the cosmetic virtues of Henriette(Marie-Josee Croze) and Marie(Olatz Lopez Garmendia), the camera pans to an attending doctor, because Bauby knows women; even a professional woman wants to be thought of as pretty in his model-centric mind, and her exclusion from the doctor's pantheon of attractive medical professionals strikes him as callous and rude. If Jean-Dominique's eye could talk, he'd reassure her with some kind words; something along the lines of, "You're no chopped liver, yourself, you lab-coated mademoiselle." Even though locked-in syndrome is a nightmare, Bauby fills his mindscape with images steeped in a learned man's knowledge of history, art, and dance. Don't feel sorry for him. Laugh at him. Jean-Dominique gives you permission when he refers to his face as being dipped in formaldehyde. "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" isn't a love story, but it's a story about love. Save your tears for Celine(Emmanuelle Seigner). Nobody loves Bauby more than her, but she's in competition with his mistress(Agathe de La Fontaine) and translator(Anne Consigny). Expand
  27. KaseyS.
    Mar 16, 2008
    10
    How did this movie not get nominated for Best Picture? Incredible. Cinematography like you've never seen.
  28. JayH.
    Apr 27, 2008
    8
    Wow, what a powerful and moving film. Excellent direction and performances, beautiful photography. It's not a film that you would easily forget. Very well edited. Exceptional.
  29. GaryH
    May 12, 2008
    10
    If I was able to score 20 for the movie I would. It is quite simply the best movie ever made. It will leave you shattered, in love and thrilled to be alive. The performance of the father is worth the price of entrance ticket alone.
  30. JF
    May 4, 2008
    10
    Brilliant on every level. One of the most effective and affecting films I have ever seen.
  31. Licardio
    May 4, 2008
    10
    This movie is beautiful. This story makes you appreciate life more and as you see it, you cannot help but wonder if you are really taking full advantage of your own life. When you see someone in the state that the main character is in, you then realize that life is very fragile and that love, imagination, friends and family is all that really matters. Go see this movie and then take a This movie is beautiful. This story makes you appreciate life more and as you see it, you cannot help but wonder if you are really taking full advantage of your own life. When you see someone in the state that the main character is in, you then realize that life is very fragile and that love, imagination, friends and family is all that really matters. Go see this movie and then take a look at your life for a minute and wonder what can be acheived with it starting tommorow. This flick is the best I have seen in a long time, I certainly hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I hope it can create a possitive change in your life. Expand
  32. bda
    May 2, 2009
    10
    Schnabel nailed it.
  33. ArminR
    Jul 2, 2009
    9
    The highly rated Diving Bell and the Butterfly deserved more in Cannes film festival and Oscar Academy.
  34. danielw
    Nov 29, 2007
    10
    I am quite convinced that this is one of the greatest movies I have ever seen. It does things that only movies can, and constitutes, above and beyond its other very many great virtues, an argument for the irreplaceability of this particular art form. It is in the best sense an interpretation of Bauby's book, rather than simply an illustration. I left this movie with my mind in a swim I am quite convinced that this is one of the greatest movies I have ever seen. It does things that only movies can, and constitutes, above and beyond its other very many great virtues, an argument for the irreplaceability of this particular art form. It is in the best sense an interpretation of Bauby's book, rather than simply an illustration. I left this movie with my mind in a swim and my emotions unleashed, rather than, as one might have expected given the theme of this movie, manipulated. Everything about this movie, every risk and every novel move, works. I doubt that I will see anything this good this decade. Expand
  35. EdK.
    Nov 30, 2007
    10
    Moving account of a man who only working body parts his is brain and left eye .told from his point of view. Remarkable acting from the entire cast.
  36. KevinL.
    Dec 26, 2007
    8
    this was a well-crafted movie with a lot of heart -- but does anyone else find the main character a bit of a chauvinist? He's one of those supposedly "suave" Frenchmen who are given licence to treat beautiful women like trash because...he's French?!? And some women just seem to swoon for this type of guy. It's beyond me. But, in the end, I do like this guy's this was a well-crafted movie with a lot of heart -- but does anyone else find the main character a bit of a chauvinist? He's one of those supposedly "suave" Frenchmen who are given licence to treat beautiful women like trash because...he's French?!? And some women just seem to swoon for this type of guy. It's beyond me. But, in the end, I do like this guy's imagination, his relationship with his father is very touching, and he obviously loves his son. It's a great movie, I just wouldn't wish this creep on any woman I know. Expand
  37. PaulK.
    Dec 31, 2007
    9
    The cinematography is striking, especially at first. the story unfolds slowly, but by the end, i was captivated and surprised that this was based on a true story.
  38. kr
    Jan 28, 2008
    10
    Visually stunning movie that will leave you breathless. It's like watching a dream come to life.
  39. DamienA.
    Feb 27, 2008
    8
    The good in this film is outstanding and then there is the average direction and writing: when I say writing I mean the script. It just lacks development when it comes to the characters including the main one. Who is this guy? Okay he edits a major magazine but show us more than that.. or at least show some depth to it.. and his lovers remain pretty oblique and 2 dimensional... When I The good in this film is outstanding and then there is the average direction and writing: when I say writing I mean the script. It just lacks development when it comes to the characters including the main one. Who is this guy? Okay he edits a major magazine but show us more than that.. or at least show some depth to it.. and his lovers remain pretty oblique and 2 dimensional... When I first saw it I was blown away but in retrospect it was the story itself that got to me and Schnabel has done a mostly great job of depicting it.. Compared to most contemporary films it is pure gold.. No Country For Old Men? Give me a break! I don't know I just think it could have been so much better. Expand
  40. EvanD.
    Jun 28, 2008
    10
    The perfect film. visually stunning and perfectly acted.
  41. reillykate
    Dec 19, 2007
    10
    I wasn't wild about either Basquiat or Before Night Falls, so I was worried this film would disappoint, as well. Instead, it is an absolute masterpiece. If anyone out there is skeptical based on Schnabel's past work, don't be. It's a beautiful film, and one that should be seen on the big screen. Go see it as soon as you can.
  42. pats
    Dec 23, 2007
    8
    What surprised me about the film was that my response to it was primarily intellectual rather than emotional. It kept me thinking throughout, but strangely, except in a few places, it did not have me feeling as much as I would have expected. I think I was so amazed at the artistry that could get so creatively into the locked presence of the protagonist that admiration kept me from What surprised me about the film was that my response to it was primarily intellectual rather than emotional. It kept me thinking throughout, but strangely, except in a few places, it did not have me feeling as much as I would have expected. I think I was so amazed at the artistry that could get so creatively into the locked presence of the protagonist that admiration kept me from initiation. My reaction has puzzled me. There was just a distance that I can't describe or understand. Expand
  43. mathewb.
    Dec 29, 2007
    10
    perfect, one of the best films about the human condition that I ever seen. The best preformance of the year belongs to Amalric.
Metascore
92

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. The film is a masterpiece in which “locked-in” syndrome becomes the human condition.
  2. 100
    Schnabel’s movie, based on the calm and exquisite little book that Bauby wrote in the hospital, is a gloriously unlocked experience, with some of the freest and most creative uses of the camera and some of the most daring, cruel, and heartbreaking emotional explorations that have appeared in recent movies.
  3. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    80
    Most compelling in its attempts to re-create the experience of paralysis onscreen, gorgeously lensed pic morphs into a dreamlike collage of memories and fantasies, distancing the viewer somewhat from Bauby's consciousness even as it seeks to take one deeper.