Based on the popular autobiography of Henri Charriere, PAPPILON recounts his almost two decades long imprisonment at the appalling prison camp in French Guiana where men were pretty much sent to die. Directed by Franklin J. Shaffner on the heels of PATTON, the film is epic in scope but due to its excellent casting, never loses sight of its humanity. 


Charriere (Steve McQueen), known as “Pappilon” because of the butterfly tattoo on his chest, is sent to the prison, charged with the murder of a pimp. Claiming his innocence, Pappilon tries for the next sixteen years to escape imprisonment. 


With the help of his newfound friend Louis Dega (Dustin Hoffman), he will attempt many escapes over the years, some more successful than others. Even in defeat, his will to live as a free man will never be squashed. 


Gritty and unforgiving, PAPILLON authentically shows the harsh lives of the prisoners and the torture and humiliation they suffered. 


Using the still-living at the time Henri Charriere as a consultant on the film, the production meticulously recreated sets from original blueprints as well as dramatized the multitudes of ways the prisoners were dehumanized. 


The entire cast is outstanding from the top down. McQueen and Hoffman are working at the height of their craft and are supported by a great cast that holds their own against them. 


The care that was put into this film both on and off the screen is evident in every frame and the movie stands as one of the most realistic prison films and still resonates to this day.

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PAPILLON (1973)

JUNE 7, 2014