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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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
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 Dega, 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 attempt 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:

The greatest adventure of escape ever filmed! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

16 December 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Leptir  »

Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$53,267,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(magnetic prints)| (optical prints)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Actor Steve McQueen insisted on performing the stunt where he jumps off a cliff himself. McQueen once said of this that it was "one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life". See more »

Goofs

During the sailboat escape, the boat is seen sailing right to left against the setting sun, that is, due south. But sailing from the prison in French Guyana would require sailing north and/or west. See more »

Quotes

Dega: Well, it now seems quite possible that until we get to a decent jail with bribeable guards, I may stand in some need of... rather close physical protection.
Papillon: That depends on how long you want to live.
Dega: For a long time.
Papillon: Then you got a problem.
Dega: Well, I presume that you have some, uh, goals, some particular need that outrates all the others. I mean, if so... may I aslk what it is?
Papillon: Money!
Dega: For what?
Papillon: Escape.
Dega: Very good. You keep me alive until we land in Guyana, and I'll underwrite any escape you care ...
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in The 52nd Annual Academy Awards (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

Ballet Music from Faust
(uncredited)
Music by Charles Gounod
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Excellent film entertainment
8 June 2002 | by See all my reviews

Excellent movie. Entertaining and realistic.

Although media promotion hinted that this was another version of "The Great Escape", the movie, and Steve McQueen, avoided what would have been a fatal pratfall - remaking the 1962 POW war film with different costumes.

In fact, this was an excellent film that stood on its own merit(despite the fact that historians claim the story is not true) It was an excellent depiction of the French penal colony in Guana. It would have been great even without McQueen in the title role.

Dustin Hoffman was his usual superb actor, making the most out of his role. McQueen wisely avoided playing himself, and as a result, his role was stronger and believable.

Location scenes and overall plot were superb.

Outstanding film.


39 of 55 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Prison tame compared to other movies CrescentRoses
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and the moral of the story is... flatlinebeforedeath
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Great movie, but I call 'Bull *beep* le-fantome
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