Papillon

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Warner Brothers Released 1973

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Movie Summary

Director:
Franklin J. Schaffner
Released:
1973
Rating:
PG

Papillon is a fact-based drama about a man who is wrongly convicted of murder and tries to escape after being imprisoned on Devil's Island. Papillon opens with Henri "Papillon" Charriere (Steve McQueen) sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a pimp. Though he proclaims his innocence, Papillon is sent to the notorious French penal colony of Devil's Island. While there he saves the life of a counterfeiter named Louis Dega (Dustin Hoffman), who eventually becomes his lifelong friend. Dega assists Papillon on several of his escape attempts from the penal colony. Though some nearly succeed, Papillon is never able to break away and is repeatedly captured and sent into solitary confinement where only Dega's help keeps him from starving to death. Despite the harsh treatment he gets for his escape attempts, however, Papillon persists for more than a decade. Papillon is a testament to the enduring power of the human spirit.

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Metacritic Score

  • 60

    Empire Ian Nathan

    One of the greatest behind-bars movies ever, the result finds director Franklin J. Schaffner making the most of both his sun-drenched locations and his leading man, who squintily a...

  • 50

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    An expensive, exhaustive, 150-mintue odyssey that doesn't so much conclude as cross the finish line and collapse. It has been outfitted with expensive stars and a glossy production...

  • 50

    Time Out

    With Schaffner unable to find the necessary perspective to prevent the film from becoming unevenly episodic, it ends up looking as if it were tacked together by at least three diff...

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Themes

Biography, Classics, Crime, Thrillers