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Papillon (1973)

R  |   |  Biography, Crime, Drama  |  16 December 1973 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 92,219 users  
Reviews: 163 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 »
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Top Rated Movies #237 | 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 ...
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


For Papillon survival was not enough .... he had to be free See more »


Biography | Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

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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
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Did You Know?


Dalton Trumbo never grumbled about the demanding schedule, but illness forced him to leave the production before the script was completed. He was found to have lung cancer, scotching any possibility that he could return to the set after visiting his doctors in California. The script was completed, under a fortuitous arrangement with the Writers Guild, by Trumbo's son Christopher, who already had one movie and some TV credits by that time. See more »


When Papillon first visits the lepers, the leper he speaks to does not move his lips (probably because of makeup). 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 Oscar's Greatest Moments (1992) See more »


Ballet Music from Faust
Music by Charles Gounod
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A must see...
25 February 2006 | by (Turkey) – See all my reviews

This is the second greatest "run after freedom" movie i've ever seen. Two great actors Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen are able to present you disappointment, happiness, loyalty, patience, hope, insanity, friendship and depression perfectly. Every single scene in the picture has a lot of things to say to you. You might get emotionally confused when watching this movie, you might even sense a little bit of friendship or love between the prison guardians and the prisoners and at the same time you might be able to sense the unreasonable hate. When you are not free, then you have nothing else to lose thus you have to run after your freedom, however do not believe in freedom until you get what you used to have before losing it.

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Prison tame compared to other movies CrescentRoses
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
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