Top 5000
Up 9 this week

Papillon (1973)

R  |   |  Biography, Crime, Drama  |  16 December 1973 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.1/10 from 90,281 users  
Reviews: 162 user | 58 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.


(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
0Check in

Watch Now

From $3.99 on Amazon Video


The 25 Most Immersive Worlds in Cinema

Highly immersive cinematic worlds can carry a movie, and we've rounded up the best of the best.

See the full list

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 38 titles
created 03 Nov 2012
a list of 44 titles
created 8 months ago
a list of 40 titles
created 8 months ago
a list of 31 titles
created 7 months ago
a list of 36 titles
created 2 months ago

Related Items

Search for "Papillon" on

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Papillon (1973)

Papillon (1973) on IMDb 8.1/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Papillon.

User Polls

Top 250 Movies #240 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Allied P.O.W.s plan for several hundred of their number to escape from a German camp during World War II.

Director: John Sturges
Stars: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough
The Hustler (1961)
Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

An up-and-coming pool player plays a long-time champion in a single high-stakes match.

Director: Robert Rossen
Stars: Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie
The Sting (1973)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

In Chicago in September 1936, a young con man seeking revenge for his murdered partner teams up with a master of the big con to win a fortune from a criminal banker.

Director: George Roy Hill
Stars: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A man refuses to conform to life in a rural prison.

Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Stars: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin
Certificate: M Biography | Crime | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Two Western bank/train robbers flee to Bolivia when the law gets too close.

Director: George Roy Hill
Stars: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A man robs a bank to pay for his lover's operation; it turns into a hostage situation and a media circus.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Al Pacino, John Cazale, Penelope Allen
Adventure | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.

Director: David Lean
Stars: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins
The Graduate (1967)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A disillusioned college graduate finds himself torn between his older lover and her daughter.

Director: Mike Nichols
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross
Ben-Hur (1959)
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A man's coerced confession to an IRA bombing he did not commit results in the imprisonment of his father as well. An English lawyer fights to free them.

Director: Jim Sheridan
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Pete Postlethwaite, Alison Crosbie
Bullitt (1968)
Action | Crime | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An all guts, no glory San Francisco cop becomes determined to find the underworld kingpin that killed the witness in his protection.

Director: Peter Yates
Stars: Steve McQueen, Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Vaughn
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

An in-depth examination of the ways in which the U.S. Vietnam war impacts and disrupts the lives of people in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania.

Director: Michael Cimino
Stars: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale


Cast overview, first billed only:
Indian Chief
Robert Deman ...
George Coulouris ...
Dr. Chatal
Warden Barrot
Sergeant (as Victor Tayback)


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


The greatest adventure of escape ever filmed! See more »


Biography | Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:





Release Date:

16 December 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Leptir  »

Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)


$53,267,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(magnetic prints)| (optical prints)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The meaning of the film and source novel's title "Papillon" is "Butterfly" from the French language. It is pronounced, "PAP-PEE-YONH". Papillon also refers to the butterfly tattoo that Henri Charrière (Steve McQueen) has. Papillon is also the nickname given to Charrière. The title of the film Butterfly (1982) also refers to a Butterfly tattoo. See more »


When the random prisoner has his head cut off, if you watch it slowly, you can see the blade come down and stop, then the next cut (at the same angle) has a dummy's head rolling. Additionally, in the latter cut the Sun's position has changed, so it is now in the frame. See more »


Warden Barrot: [to Papillon upon his release from solitary confinement after two years following his first escape attempt] Your term is completed.
See more »


Referenced in The A-Team: The Bend in the River: Part 2 (1984) See more »


Ballet Music from Faust
Music by Charles Gounod
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

An amazing true story gets a pretty good film treatment.
26 December 2003 | by (Todmorden, England) – See all my reviews

The true story of Henri Charriere (nicknamed "Papillon" because of his butterfly tattooed chest), a Frenchman falsely accused of murder and sent to French Guiana's inescapable penal colony. Charriere spent years trying to escape from this mosquito-ridden, malaria-prone hellhole, but every attempt somehow went awry. On many occasions, the recaptured Charriere was sent into solitary confinement and only survived thanks to his incredible mental strength. Ultimately, the authorities lost hope of taming his urge to break out, so they abandoned him on Devil's Island, a tiny land mass where guards were not needed since the constantly ferocious surrounding sea was ample deterent for any would-be escapees.

Franklin J. Schaffner directs this film quite well, capturing the appalling prison conditions vividly and getting a wonderful, multi-layered performance from Dustin Hoffman as Charriere's friend, convict Louis Dega. However, McQueen struggles with the demands of the lead role. Yes, he's physically accurate in the part and during the escape sequences he looks convincing. However, during the quieter moments, McQueen looks distinctly uncomfortable, and his natural "cool" persona doesn't equate with the humiliated, tormented character he is supposed to be playing. The subsidiary characters are great, especially the guy with the tattooed face who attributes his ugly tattoos to an evening of drunkeness, and Anthony Zerbe as a grossly disfigured leper who asks Papillon to share a cigar with him.

Best sequence? Probably the one where McQueen and another escapee flee through the rainforest from some soldiers, using natural jungle-based narcotics to preserve their energy levels.

28 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
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
Discuss Papillon (1973) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: