Wrongfully convicted for murder, Henri Charriere forms an unlikely relationship with fellow inmate and quirky convicted counterfeiter Louis Dega, in an attempt to escape from the notorious penal colony on Devil's Island.
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
Director Franklin J. Schaffner would get up at 4 a.m. and meet with co-writer Dalton Trumbo for an hour or so for a last look at the pages to be filmed that day. When the day's shooting was finished, Schaffner returned to the hotel to meet with Trumbo until late in the night to see what he had written that day. See more »
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. See more »
[Briefly examining Dega in a prefunctory manner]
You're fine. NEXT!
Must be better than I feel.
[Briefly examining Papillon]
You're in wonderful shape.
How do you fail an examination like this?
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Some American prints of this film run 132 minutes, instead of 150. See more »
This is the second greatest "run after freedom" movie i've ever seen. Two great actors Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen are able to present you disappointment, happiness, loyalty, patience, hope, insanity, friendship and depression perfectly. Every single scene in the picture has a lot of things to say to you. You might get emotionally confused when watching this movie, you might even sense a little bit of friendship or love between the prison guardians and the prisoners and at the same time you might be able to sense the unreasonable hate. When you are not free, then you have nothing else to lose thus you have to run after your freedom, however do not believe in freedom until you get what you used to have before losing it.
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