8.0/10
121,489
218 user 76 critic

Papillon (1973)

Trailer
4:09 | Trailer
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.

Writers:

Dalton Trumbo (screenplay), Lorenzo Semple Jr. (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
2,446 ( 258)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Steve McQueen ... Henri 'Papillon' Charriere
Dustin Hoffman ... Louis Dega
Victor Jory ... Indian Chief
Don Gordon ... Julot
Anthony Zerbe ... Toussaint
Robert Deman Robert Deman ... Maturette
Woodrow Parfrey ... Clusiot
Bill Mumy ... Lariot
George Coulouris ... Dr. Chatal
Ratna Assan ... Zoraima
William Smithers ... Warden Barrot
Val Avery ... Pascal
Gregory Sierra ... Antonio
Vic Tayback ... Sergeant (as Victor Tayback)
Mills Watson ... Guard
Edit

Storyline

A semi-fictional account of Henri Charrière's time in the penal system in French Guyana - some of it spent on infamous Devil's Island - is presented. It's the early 1930s. Charrière - nicknamed Papillon because of his butterfly tattoo - and Louis Dega are two among many who have been convicted in the French judicial system, they now being transferred to French Guyana where they will serve their time, never to return to France even if they are ever released. A safe-cracker by criminal profession, Papillon is serving a life sentence for murdering a pimp, a crime for which he adamantly states he was framed. Dega is a wealthy counterfeiter, who expects his well-to-do wife eventually to get him released. At Papillon's initiative, the duo enters into a business arrangement: Papillon will provide protection for Dega, who, in turn, will finance Papillon's escape attempt. As the two men spend more time together than either had expected, their burgeoning friendship ends up being an important ... Written by Huggo/RMS

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

"Welcome, to the prison colony of French Guiana, whose prisoners you are and from which there is no escape." See more »

Genres:

Biography | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Roman Polanski wanted to direct with Warren Beatty in the lead role. Beatty turned it down. See more »

Goofs

(at around 35 mins) The prisoner's uniforms are cleaner than they were just prior. See more »

Quotes

Prisoner: I know you, you're Degas. You're a very intelligent man!
Dega: Thank you. I seem to be known in all the wrong places.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The Spanish version has several cuts during the film due to censorship reasons, including Alfred Dreyfus scene on Devil's Island. This version also includes a song called "Toi qui regardes la mer" that appears during the end credits with music by Jerry Goldsmith and sung by the French singer Nicoletta. See more »


Soundtracks

Ballet Music from Faust
(uncredited)
Music by Charles Gounod
See more »

User Reviews

 
" How did you know I had dry leprosy? . . . . I didn't"
29 October 2008 | by thinker1691See all my reviews

Henri 'Papillon' Charriere, was a lifetime inmate under the French government's harsh penal system in French Guiana. In his declining years he wrote his memoirs describing his years of incarceration, his cruel mistreatment and daring, multiple escapes. Weather or not he was the actual character of his own book, is disputed to this day. But the fact that he was an inmate is true enough and fits in with the actual site which came to be known as 'Devil's Island.' Court records indicate that Henri Charriere (Steve McQueen) later called " Papillon " which is french for Butterfly, was indeed a minor burglar and safe cracker. His claim he was innocent of murder, may be true enough, due to an unreliable source accusing him in court, yet producing little supporting evidence. Nevertheless, the infamous thief was given a twenty year sentence, which was extended due to his numerous escapes. During his imprisonment, he becomes lifelong friends with an equally famous treasury forger named Louis Dega (Dustin Hoffman). Don Gordon (a real life friend of McQueen) plays Julot, an experienced prisoner with his own intentions of escape. Anthony Zerbe is hideously interesting as Toussaint, a ravaged leper, who aids escaping prisoners. The entire film is one remarkable story and becomes an incredible journey, one which transcends the screen and offers audiences, the raw reality of life under the most severe and brutal penal systems in the world. The infamous 'Devil's Island ' today has become synonymous with a hellish place of unspeakable conditions. A fantastic movie for those in search of true-life Classic. ****


69 of 79 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 218 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

France | USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

19 December 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Papillon See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$53,267,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$53,267,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (magnetic prints)| Mono (optical prints)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed