The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Le Scaphandre et le Papillon, 2007, 112 min.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)


Independent Spirit Awards
Best Director – Julian Schnabel
Best Cinematography – Janusz Kaminski


Director Julian Schnabel
Screenplay Ronald Harwood
Cinematography Janusz Kaminski
Music Paul Cantelon
Art Direction Michel Eric,
Laurent Ott
Producer(s) Kathleen Kennedy,
Jon Kilik
Jean-Dominique Bauby Mathieu Amalric
Celine Desmoulins Emmanuelle Seigner
Henriette Durand Marie-Josee Croze
Claude Anna Consigny
Dr. Lepage Patric Chesnais
Papinou Max von Sydow


From one of the most emotionally exhilarating and luminous bestsellers ever written comes the true story of a man who took an adversity beyond all imagining and transformed it into a testament to the irrepressible human urge to love, create and dream. With his third film, director and artist Julian Schnabel (“Basquiat,” “Before Night Falls”) forges a visually stunning, heart-stirring ode to what drives a man to go on when all truly seems lost. Through a mesmerizing blast of color, beauty and humor, and a rousing spirit of creativity, Schnabel tells the story of Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric, “Munich”), AKA “Jean-Do,” the high-flying editor of French Elle and father of two, who was renowned for his sense of humor and style, his joie de vivre and amorous energy, when, in an instant, his world was plunged into the depths of catastrophe.

Faced with a harrowing predicament, Jean-Do will use enormous courage and determination but, most of all, his soaring imagination to escape from his trap. Tapping into the limitlessness of his memories, fantasies, wit and wishes, he finds a way to race through experiences of wonder and grief, sex and love, fatherhood and childhood, faith and questioning, ecstasy and absurdity – and touches the very essence of what it is to be human. Along the way he is buoyed by a quintet of remarkable women: Céline (Emmanuelle Seigner), the mother of his children who remains devoted to him despite his betrayal; Inés (Agathe de la Fontaine), the girlfriend who still haunts him; Henriette (Marie-Josée Croze) and Marie (Olatz Lopez Garamendia), who give Jean-Do the power to re-connect with the world and his loved ones; and Claude (Anne Consigny), who becomes his ravishing literary assistant. Legendary screen star and Oscar® nominee Max Von Sydow takes the moving role of Jean-Do’s father. The cast of leading French stars also includes Patrick Chesnais, Niels Arestrup, the late Jean-Pierre Cassel and Marina Hands.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” is directed by Julian Schnabel, who garnered the Director’s Award at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival for the film, and is written by Academy Award® winner Ronald Harwood (“The Pianist”), based on the internationally acclaimed memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby. The producers are Kathleen Kennedy and Jon Kilik and the executive producers are Pierre Grunstein and Jim Lemley.

Shot entirely on location in France, Jean-Do’s extraordinary, dream-like world, a world seen literally through the blink of an eye, is brought to life by an artistic team that includes two-time Academy Award®-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (“Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Munich”), production designers Laurent Ott and Michel Eric, costume designer Olivier Beriot and composer Paul Cantelon, whose score is woven into a soundtrack compiled by Schnabel with tracks from artists including Tom Waits, U2, Lou Reed and Joe Strummer, as well as samples of classic movie scores.