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Papillon (1973)

R  |   |  Biography, Crime, Drama  |  16 December 1973 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 90,217 users  
Reviews: 162 user | 57 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 250 Movies #240 | 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 »

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 prison set was the largest in the film, an 800-foot expanse resulting from two years of research by production designer Anthony Masters. It was built near Falmouth on the north shore of Jamaica. See more »


At around 18:00, you can see the shadow of camera or crew as the rail car passes. See more »


Papillon: We're something, aren't we? The only animals that shove things up their ass for survival.
See more »


Referenced in Fanalysis (2002) See more »


Ballet Music from Faust
Music by Charles Gounod
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Excellent film entertainment
8 June 2002 | by See all my reviews

Excellent movie. Entertaining and realistic.

Although media promotion hinted that this was another version of "The Great Escape", the movie, and Steve McQueen, avoided what would have been a fatal pratfall - remaking the 1962 POW war film with different costumes.

In fact, this was an excellent film that stood on its own merit(despite the fact that historians claim the story is not true) It was an excellent depiction of the French penal colony in Guana. It would have been great even without McQueen in the title role.

Dustin Hoffman was his usual superb actor, making the most out of his role. McQueen wisely avoided playing himself, and as a result, his role was stronger and believable.

Location scenes and overall plot were superb.

Outstanding film.

38 of 54 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
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