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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2,766 ( 144)

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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
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Julot
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Toussaint
Robert Deman ...
Maturette
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Clusiot
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Lariot
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Dr. Chatal
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Zoraima
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Warden Barrot
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Pascal
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Antonio
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Sergeant (as Victor Tayback)
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Guard
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Storyline

A semi-fictional account of Henri Charrière's time in the penal system in French Guyana - some of it spent on infamous Devil's Island - is presented. It's the early 1930s. Charrière - nicknamed Papillon because of his butterfly tattoo - and Louis Dega are two among many who have been convicted in the French judicial system, they now being transferred to French Guyana where they will serve their time, never to return to France even if they are ever released. A safe-cracker by criminal profession, Papillon is serving a life sentence for murdering a pimp, a crime for which he adamantly states he was framed. Dega is a wealthy counterfeiter, who expects his well-to-do wife eventually to get him released. On Papillon's initiative, Papillon and Dega enter into a business arrangement: Papillon will provide protection for Dega, while Dega will finance Papillon's escape attempt. As Papillon and Degas' time together lasts longer than either expects, their burgeoning friendship ends up being an ... Written by Huggo

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:

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Language:

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Release Date:

6 February 1974 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Leptir  »

Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$53,267,000 (USA)
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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 movie's remake Papillon (2017) is scheduled to debut in 2017 and stars Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek in the Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman roles respectively. Principal photography was completed in December 2016. The remake will premiere about forty-four years after this original 1973 picture. 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

Warden Barrot: [to Papillon upon his release from solitary confinement after five years following his second escape attempt] Your five years in solitary confinement are at an end. You've paid part of your debt to France.
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Connections

Referenced in ALF: Pennsylvania 6-5000 (1986) 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

 
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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