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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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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...
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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
...
Pascal
...
Antonio
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Sergeant (as Victor Tayback)
...
Guard
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Storyline

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

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)
 »

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 crew took advantage of the abundant marijuana that was readily available in Jamaica. Not content to merely smoke it, they boiled it down to mix in drinks at a party. Several people got sick from that, particularly Franklin J. Schaffner, causing a day's delay in shooting. See more »

Goofs

When Papillon is in the natives' village he goes swimming with one of the girls who has tan lines from a bra/bikini top. See more »

Quotes

Toussaint: We do a lot of smuggling here. We raid the mainland. We steal boats. When an outsider comes in we generally kill him, as a security measure.
Papillon: That makes sense.
Toussaint: Well... a man of Christian understanding.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Atomic Brain (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Ballet Music from Faust
(uncredited)
Music by Charles Gounod
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Terrific! Most underrated film ever.
15 December 2004 | by (Davis, California) – See all my reviews

I felt so moved after watching this film. Steve McQueen did a terrific job acting as Henry. Although at times, he just acted as McQueen, he did a wonderful job expressing suffering in the solitary confinement scene, and great towards the end of the movie. Hoffman is always an exceptional actor and in this movie he is no different. Unfortunately it neither won for, nor got nominated for an Oscar, and it deserved to win 3 (supporting actor, actor, picture). As much as I loved the Sting, this movie was better for that year.Some critics gave it a bad review, even a 1973 Roger Ebert article criticized this film. I guess you cant blame them too much, movies were better those days. Note that 1973 was sandwiched between 2 Godfather years.Maybe some people figured that McQueen was just redoing his Great Escape role. Either way, nowadays films are so bad I am just thirsting for a movie this deep. But if the best Hollywood can do nowadays is a glittzy trashpiece like Chicago, we cant expect too much from our times.


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Prison tame compared to other movies Wonderland26
McQueen deserved the Oscar ganggreen1960
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and the moral of the story is... flatlinebeforedeath
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Great movie, but I call 'Bull *beep* le-fantome
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