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Papillon (1973)

8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 71,146 users  
Reviews: 149 user | 51 critic

A man befriends a fellow criminal as the two of them begin serving their sentence on a dreadful prison island, which inspires the man to plot his escape.

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Papillon (1973)

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Top 250 #247 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Indian Chief
...
Julot
...
Toussaint
Robert Deman ...
Maturette
...
Clusiot
...
Lariot
George Coulouris ...
Dr. Chatal
...
Zoraima
...
Warden Barrot
...
Pascal
...
Antonio
...
Sergeant (as Victor Tayback)
...
Guard
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Storyline

Henri "Papillon" Charierre is sentenced to life in prison and transported to the penal in French Guyana. Aboard ship on the voyage over, he meets Louis Degas, a forger. They form a bond that will last them a great many years. The conditions at the penal colony are horrific and Papillon desperately wants to escape. His first attempt ends quickly in failure and as a result he spends 2 years in solitary confinement. His next attempts is somewhat more successful and he actually spends a idyllic time with a tribe of Central America Indians. Once caught however, he does 5 years in solitary confinement. Once released, he decides to make one final attempt at freedom. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Two men with nothing in common but a will to live and a place to die See more »

Genres:

Biography | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

|

Language:

|

Release Date:

16 December 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Leptir  »

Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$53,267,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(magnetic prints)| (optical prints)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Jamaican filming location proved troublesome on three counts. First, the inclement weather proved unpredictable for filming; second, thefts were abundant, stolen goods including props, costumes, machinery and other items, amounted to around $30,000 in value; and third, Jamaican ganja marijuana was smoked regularly by a number of crew members, affecting their work ethic. See more »

Goofs

The guillotine permanently erected in the prison courtyard is a piece of pure Hollywood. By the 1870s the French had developed demountable guillotines that could be easily transported and set up in the town square wherever an execution was to take place, taking only an hour or so to assemble and dis-assemble. There is ample evidence that the 'bagne' (Caribbean penal colony) had one of these, which would have only been brought out of storage when needed. Had it been left permanently exposed to the tropical sun and rain, its timbers would have very rapidly deteriorated and warped to render it unusable. See more »

Quotes

Dega: Remember what the chicken said to the weasel?
Papillon: If he was a healthy weasel, the chicken didn't get a chance to say anything.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Last Shot (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Ballet Music from Faust
(uncredited)
Music by Charles Gounod
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A Fine Film Which Does The Book Justice
18 May 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Usually, after reading a long book filled with many interesting adventures, watching a two-hour film later winds up being a big disappointment. There is no way a film can give you anywhere near the info you glean from a book, especially one over 500 pages as is the case with "Papillion." Yet, despite most of Henri Charriere's incredible feats of survival, ("Papillion" was Charriere's nickname) this movie is above average and basically does the book justice. The movie runs about two-and-a-half hours and gives enough of a flavor to have the viewer appreciate - at least to some degree - the brutal trials and tribulations Papillion went through in real life.

If you enjoyed this film, the book is a "must-read" for you and very highly-recommend You won't believe all the things Charriere experienced: good and bad. In real life, the man escaped something like eight times and each time went through hell.

Steve McQueen, playing "Papillion," was excellent. He was particularly good at showing the physical effects of years of solitary confinement. By the way, in real life, Charriere was much younger went sent to jail than McQueen was at the time this movie was shot. Papillion should have been played by a younger actor, but who's going to complain when you get an actor of McQueen's caliber?

Dustin Hoffman also was great as Papillion's friend, "Louis Dega," who had a bigger role in the movie than he did in the book. For the most part, Papillion had a number of friends, all helping him over the years. Hoffman also provided some good comic relief to the movie and, heaven knows, it needed it. Take it from someone who has read the book: this is a grim story, worse than what you saw on screen here.

Nevertheless, thanks to the two leading actors and the wonderful work by Director Franklin Schaffner and Cinematograher Fred Koenekamp, this long film entertained. No, it wasn't the caliber of the book, but it's didn't insult it, either, and is definitely worth a look.


24 of 30 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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McQueen deserved the Oscar GeorgeZipp1980
No accent? jakholman
and the moral of the story is... flatlinebeforedeath
I think this movie is an insult to the book (founded) deboas
Great movie, but I call 'Bull *beep* le-fantome
Exactly where did Dega... Hei_Shibing
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