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 overview, first billed only:
Indian Chief
Robert Deman ...
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


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


Biography | Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

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Official Sites:





Release Date:

6 February 1974 (France)  »

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
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Did You Know?


"Papillon" is one of those rare films that were given two major releases by two different distributors. First, Allied Artists and then Columbia released it in 1973. See more »


A harness is visible on Papillon's midsection as he helps Dega over the wall. See more »


Warden Barrot: Forget France and put your clothes on.
See more »


Featured in Trumbo (2007) See more »


Ballet Music from Faust
Music by Charles Gounod
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Unforgettable, fantastic film, one of my top personal favorites
25 July 2004 | by See all my reviews

Papillon is one of my all-time favorites films. Steve McQueen is fantastic in the lead role. Dustin Hoffman is at his finest as Louie Dega. Very memorable, unforgettable performances, shocking action scenes and psychological thrills and twists. I cannot write enough good things about this film. After years of looking, I recently found this film on DVD and added it to my collection. This is the kind of movie that you can watch again and again and continue to see things you've never noticed before. This film never gets old and you never grow tired of watching Papillon. Some of the cast includes Vic Tayback also known as Mel from the hit TV series "Alice." He is convincing as a mean, surly prison guard. Also, Billy Tumy known for his role in "Lost in Space" as Will Robinson, plays a young, doomed inmate. There are other character actors included in the cast that you will more than likely recognize throughout the film. I give this film the strongest and highest of recommendations.

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Prison tame compared to other movies CrescentRoses
McQueen deserved the Oscar ganggreen1960
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
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