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Papillon (1973) Poster

(1973)

Goofs

Audio/visual unsynchronised 

When Papillon first visits the lepers, the leper he speaks to does not move his lips (probably because of makeup).
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Continuity 

When the random prisoner has his head cut off, if you watch it slowly, you can see the blade come down and stop, then the next cut (at the same angle) has a dummy's head rolling. Additionally, in the latter cut the Sun's position has changed, so it is now in the frame.
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(at around 35 mins) The prisoner's uniforms are cleaner than they were just prior.
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(at around 1h 20 mins) shaving cream pattern changes.
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When the guards start to open the alligator's belly and shout "Move it! What the hell you looking at!" Dega is wearing his long sleeve dirty gray shirt with a wide brim hat (with nothing in his hands i.e., his striped shirt), and Henri is wearing a headband across his forehead. Moments later, when they walk towards a log to sit down, Dega is now wearing his orange and white striped shirt with a bandana type headpiece and Henri's headband is now wrapped and tied around his neck.
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Crew or equipment visible 

At the end of the film, when Papillon is floating on his bag of coconuts, a scuba diver is clearly visible in the water beneath that bag.
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A harness is visible on Papillon's midsection as he helps Dega over the wall.
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Errors in geography 

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.
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At a scene in St. Laurent, there are mountains in the background, presumably on the Suriname side of the river. There are no mountains in that part of Suriname.
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Factual errors 

When Papillon is in his first solitary confinement, a vampire bat bites him and drinks his blood. The wound is two fang-like holes where the blood comes out. A vampire bat doesn't have fangs for teeth. Using their sharp teeth, the bats make tiny cuts in the skin. The bats' saliva contains a chemical that keeps the blood from clotting. The bats then lap up the blood that oozes from the wound.
The guillotine permanently erected in the prison courtyard is a piece of pure Hollywood. By the 1870's, 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.
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Revealing mistakes 

The alligator the two are supposed to grab has its mouth tied shut.
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When Papillon is in the natives' village, he goes swimming with one of the girls who has tan lines from a bra/bikini top.
As Hoffman is boarding the boat to French Guyana, his ear plugs are visible.
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Newer prints, with improved resolution and brighter tone reveal that the leader of the leper colony's mouth isn't moving at the end of the "cigar" conversation, when he talks to McQueen.
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At around 18:00, you can see the shadow of camera or crew as the rail car passes.
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Camera boom shadow is visible during the rain storm from around 42:00 as each person passes the camera.
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Spoilers

The goof item below may give away important plot points.

Crew or equipment visible 

In the very last scene as Papillon floats away there is a diver obviously under the bag he's floating on.
In the last scene as Papillon jumps from the cliff after he throws the bag of coconuts, you can see in the upper left quarter of the frame what seems to be a camera helicopter shooting from another angle.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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