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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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 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:

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:

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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

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 prison set was the largest in the film, an 800-foot expanse resulting from two years of research by production designer Anthony Masters. It was built near Falmouth on the north shore of Jamaica. See more »

Goofs

At a scene in St. Laurent, there are mountains in the background, presumably on the Suriname side of the river. There are no mountains in that part of Suriname. See more »

Quotes

[Papillon is contemplating a daring leap from a cliff to escape]
Dega: [the plan] It seems so desperate. You think it will work?
Papillon: Does it matter?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Steve McQueen: The Essence of Cool (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

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

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

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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