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Plot summary

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Dustin Hoffman Photo
Dustin Hoffman as Louis Dega
Steve McQueen Photo
Steve McQueen as Henri 'Papillon' Charriere
Bill Mumy Photo
Bill Mumy as Lariot
Len Lesser Photo
Len Lesser as Guard
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.35 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 30 min
P/S 0 / 13
2.16 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 31 min
P/S 0 / 23

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MartinHafer9 / 10

Provided you understand the film is NOT based on a true story, it's a very good film

This film is supposedly based on the true account of a prisoner who escaped from Devil's Island in French Guiana. However, the book by Henri Charriere about his experiences apparently has a LOT of inconsistencies and outright fabrications (a polite way of saying he was a liar). So, provided you understand that this isn't quite a true story, this is still an exceptional film. Much of this is due to incredible acting, direction, scripting and makeup.

Henri Charriere, played by Steve McQueen, is going to Devil's Island for killing a pimp--supposedly in self-defense. On the boat, he meets a swindler played by Dustin Hoffman and they become friends.

Most of the film documents how harsh and awful life is in the prison came--either in the work camps or when living in solitary confinement. All take their toll and kill off many of the prisoners, by Charriere is resilient. Despite all these privations, he never loses his resolve to escape, though Hoffman eventually does and accepts his life on the island after one failed escape attempt. In the end, Charriere does escape, though in real-life, this apparently did NOT occur.

While there is a lot more to the movie and what I have mentioned (after all it's a very long and involved film),the full impact of the story is not what you read but seeing the awfulness of the prison. So, be prepared for a movie that at times is very difficult to watch but is constructed it's an amazing film.

Reviewed by bkoganbing9 / 10

Butterfly Man Of Devil's Island

Watching Papillon today it occurred to me that the film it most resembles is Birdman of Alcatraz. Both Steve McQueen and Burt Lancaster were sent to prison for murder convictions although allegedly McQueen was innocent. Both were based on true characters who wrote, in the case of Lancaster ghost wrote, their own memoirs of their time in the joint and the films are based on those books. And certainly both men were rebel spirits.

In Lancaster's case it's an internal rebellion against the rules of the penal system. Of course in the work he did developing those bird remedies, he rehabilitated himself in a way that 'the system' did not understand.

But in the case of Henri Charriere aka Papillon for the butterfly tattoo on his chest, he just wants out of the penal colony at Devil's Island and makes many attempts to get shed of the place. The film is about his many attempts and his refusal to quit no matter what is done to break him. Devil's Island in the Thirties was not any better than it was when Alfred Dreyfus was doing his time in the tropical prison. Still McQueen is resourceful enough as you will see.

McQueen though he's far from French has the rebel persona that really fits this part. Had he been younger and this been a French production I could have seen Jean Gabin in the role. It's one of McQueen's best roles and he holds your interest throughout this nearly three hour film.

Leading an impressive supporting cast is Dustin Hoffman who plays what we would now call a white collar criminal. He becomes a devoted acolyte of McQueen seeing he's going to need friends himself if he's to survive Devil's Island. He also wants to escape in the worst possible way.

Later on we see Hoffman in a different light as if completing the Birdman of Alcatraz analogy, Hoffman's role is similar to that of Telly Savalas who's a tough character when we first meet him in Birdman, but later becomes acclimated to prison life. Hoffman has worked himself into a nice situation relatively speaking on the Island and has resigned himself that this is his home for better or worse. It's a very good performance by Hoffman as his character changes during the film.

I'd really recommend seeing both Birdman of Alcatraz and Papillon back to back. It's a good prison doubleheader for a rainy afternoon.

Reviewed by Leofwine_draca10 / 10

A bona fide classic

Regardless of its veracity as a true story, PAPILLON is a wonderful piece of movie-making. It's a prison breakout movie that transcends its genre origins to become a study of the human condition, exploring man's endurance and survival against the harshest elements. Featuring a couple of stand-out turns from the lead actors, this is an underrated classic and a film that you never hear much about, which is criminal.

Steve McQueen, still effortlessly cool a good ten years or so after THE GREAT ESCAPE, plays another con, this time a Frenchman with the tattoo of a butterfly on his chest - hence his name, 'Papillon'. He's sent to a French penal colony in Guyana, where he endures the kind of extreme conditions that would send most of us to the loony bin. The film that follows is absolutely gripping from beginning to end, even though it's fairly slow-paced for a lot of it.

It's worth mentioning Dustin Hoffman, lending brilliant support as the short-sighted fellow con, and Franklin J. Schaffner's direction, which wrings every drop of sweat out of the grimy and dirty conditions. I'm also guessing this must have been a big hit in Italy, because the cannibal movie sub-genre that followed shamelessly rips this film off, from the jungle traps and natives to the crippled man attempting to navigate the depths of the jungle with only a stick to help him.

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