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
Reportedly McQueen earned 2 million dollars and Hoffmsnn 1.25 million for their roles. See more »
The guillotine permanently erected in the prison courtyard is a piece of pure Hollywood. By the 1870s the French had developed demountable guillotines that could be easily transported and set up in the town square wherever an execution was to take place, taking only an hour or so to assemble and dis-assemble. There is ample evidence that the 'bagne' (Caribbean penal colony) had one of these, which would have only been brought out of storage when needed. Had it been left permanently exposed to the tropical sun and rain, its timbers would have very rapidly deteriorated and warped to render it unusable. See more »
[Briefly examining Dega in a prefunctory manner]
You're fine. NEXT!
Must be better than I feel.
[Briefly examining Papillon]
You're in wonderful shape.
How do you fail an examination like this?
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Terrifying film dealing with life in prison. Not just any prison, but one way off to itself with few fellow human beings around. I think this was McQueen's finest film ever, and perhaps Hoffman's also. I know it has had a lasting effect on me through the years; I have never forgotten the awesome loneliness the prisoners went through. Great picture, thumbs up.
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