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63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of McQueen's finest
Papillon is a great movie based on fact that contains many scenes that will stick with you for a long time. Henri Charierre is a safecracker framed for the murder of a pimp and sent to French Guiana, the prison system in South and Central America. Along the way, Papillon meets counterfeiter Louis Dega played to perfection by Dustin Hoffman. The two men struggle to...
Published on August 22, 2003 by T O'Brien

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars McQueen at his best
Steve Mcqueen's brightest moment was playing Henri 'Papillon' Charriere in the remake of the book of Charriere's experience as a prisoner of the French Penal Colony. "Papi" endures a lot of mental and physical hardships mostly due to his persistency to escape and find freedom. In an epic adventure landing him in impossible and remote areas, Papi never loses his marbles...
Published on September 4, 2006 by greverio


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63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of McQueen's finest, August 22, 2003
By 
T O'Brien (Chicago, Il United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Papillon (DVD)
Papillon is a great movie based on fact that contains many scenes that will stick with you for a long time. Henri Charierre is a safecracker framed for the murder of a pimp and sent to French Guiana, the prison system in South and Central America. Along the way, Papillon meets counterfeiter Louis Dega played to perfection by Dustin Hoffman. The two men struggle to survive amidst the horrible conditions in the prisons. However, the only thing that keeps Papillon alive is the thought of escape and freedom. This is a very bleak movie, at times you might not even recognize McQueen with all the makeup, but the ending does offer hope. The scenes of Papi's solitary confinement and the hallucinations he has while there are very effective and not easily forgotten. Also, the film decides to show prison life as it is. This is not a whitewashed version of it, but instead a fairly graphic depiction of the horrors of the French prison system. Nonetheless, this is still an excellent movie that will keep you interested throughout.
Papillon is up there with The Sand Pebbles as Steve McQueen's finest performances. His role as Henri "Papillon" Charierre is fully believable as he attempts over and over again to escape to freedom. Dustin Hoffman is just as good as Louis Dega, the prisoner who hires McQueen to protect him. The two become friends as they try to adjust to their new lives. The friendship between the two men is very good and some of the better parts of the movie involve their relationship. Don Gordon plays Julot, a veteran prisoner who tries to help them adjust. Robert Deman and Woodrow Parfrey are also very good as Maturette and Clusiot, two fellow prisoners who attempt escape with Papillon. I have to add about Jerry Goldsmith's very good score that perfectly fits the film. The DVD offers a widescreen presentation that looks great, a documentary made during filming that contains interviews with cast, crew, and even Henri Charierre, and also the theatrical trailer. This is a very dark movie, but it is still a great character study that never really slows down. McQueen fans will love this classic!
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69 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fredom, August 25, 2001
By 
Juan (Puerto Rico) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Papillon (DVD)
I am from Cuba and I read this book (it was illegal for the goverment) someone let me read it and spire on me to figth for my fredoom. For a period of TWO years I tried to leave Cuba, 10 times took me to get to Miami USA, reading this book gime the corage to take a raft and risk my live in the water...... Now, I live in Puerto Rico, I still read this book and ones every other year I see the movie over and over It is great and I recomend it for every body that love fredoom or dream to be free one day even if you have to die to get IT !
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blu Ray does justice to Papillon!, September 6, 2011
This review is from: Papillon [Blu-ray Book] (Blu-ray)
I am a Steve McQueen fan and I think this movie is one of his very best performances if not THE best. The fact this film was not nominated for Best Picture and Steve McQueen for Best Actor of 1973 escapes me. He was known not to 'play ball' with the Hollywood system and was very much his own man, that may have had a hand in this film being so grossly overlooked in that respect. With that said, this review is going to deal with the actual Blu Ray transfer , both video and audio , and not the plot or performances contained in it.

Papillon comes to Blu Ray on a BD-50 disc with plenty of room for the 2 and 1/2 hour film, uncompressed 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack and a few small extras. It is currently being offered in the Blu Ray book format, with some nice glossy production photos and stills, but not much written content. It is a pleasing presentation but I would have been just as happy with the disc itself in an Eco case for the same price. Still, it is a nice classy way to store and display this wonderful film.

I had read many online reviews before purchasing this title and it had been pointed out to me that for perhaps the first 10 to 20 minutes the picture quality may not be all that it should with the remainder of the film blossoming into a beautiful 1080p HD presentation that belies the films age (38 years now) and lets you get lost in the stark harshness of the prison, the lush beauty of the jungle , the leper colony at night, the exhilaration of the ocean and the paradise of the West Indies where Papillon finds temporary respite. Skin tones throughout the film are natural, and besides the overabundance of grain in the first 20 minutes Papillon has a very pleasing look to it. There is a good amount of fine detail to see in this transfer , beautiful colors when applicable and a stable dirt free image. For an older catalog title this one is a real treat and the best it has ever looked on home video period!

The soundtrack with music by the late great Jerry Goldsmith fares just as well as the picture quality. (IMHO) The music has been presented in crystal clear uncompressed DTS HD Master Audio format and it takes full advantage of it. The timpani and bass drums and very low notes on the Cello's and String Bass resonate with authority and clarity from my subwoofer. Ambient effects are spread through the surrounds at certain points during the film, especially the jungle scenes and ocean sounds and are few and far between but never obtrusive or gimmicky. My only complaint would be that sometimes the dialogue may be a bit 'tinny' and a few times it gets just slightly clipped or distorted, but always intelligible (other than perhaps a few short words on the prison ship) and easy to understand. The majority of the dialogue sounds just fine and is much better than I had hoped for a film of this age and era. The original recordings were obviously made with care for this much quality to shine through in a lossless audio presentation. The separation and expanse of the music mix is very very good and on my Denon/Klipsch system it had me feeling I was at the Cinerama! Cool! It really is a good soundtrack and the fact it is from 1973 makes it all the better.

There are only two small extras included on the disc, one is a pretty nice 12 minute documentary about the making of the film and then a trailer which might not be what you expect to see, give it a play and be amused! Both special features are in SD by the way but their inclusion is nice and I enjoyed both of them.

No doubt about it, Papillon is a film classic and this Blu Ray release is THE way to see it at home. A 5.1 surround system that decodes DTS-HD Master Audio will reveal a beautiful and engaging soundtrack to complement the gorgeous 1080p visuals. Also, this disc is NOT Java encumbered and as such the disc resume feature will WORK which is good if you can't sit for the entire 2 and 1/2 hours without a break.

For McQueen fans and classic film fans in general this is a great purchase and a fine addition to anyone's personal video library! It's is great to see the potential of Blu Ray being used to this films advantage. Highly recommended and my absolute favorite McQueen film bar none!
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MCQUEEN AT HIS FINEST!, May 17, 2000
This review is from: Papillon (DVD)
This movie is the best example of Steve McQueen's acting skills, bar none. Everyone who thought he was a one note player should look close and hard at this magnificent film. The chemistry between McQueen and Dustin Hoffman is a real tear-jearker. This should have been McQueen's Oscar, but he was not one to kiss anybody's butt for the statue. For me, this is a true tale of the survival spirit, really better than the GREAT ESACPE as far as serious pathos is concerned. Let's not forget Dustin Hoffman's character Dega. This was a composite of several people in the book. The final scene on the cliff should go down as a classic moment in cinema. Steve, we miss you!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Improves With Each Viewing, January 19, 2007
This review is from: Papillon (DVD)
I've been a fan of this film since it came out in theaters, and PAPILLON continues to impress and inspire with each subsequent viewing. In my opinion, this is Steve McQueen's absolute best role as Henri Charriere, a man wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to spend the rest of his life at Devil's Island in brutal French Guiana, South America. Henri, also known as "Papillon" (due to the tattoo of a butterfly on his chest), is determined to escape--even though the consequences of getting caught entail solitary confinement under the harshest conditions. Papillon escapes, and is caught and punished, escapes again, is caught and punished even more severely, and once he is banished to Devil's Island--an impenetrable rock amidst a fierce sea--his yearning for freedom is still not diminished.

McQueen shows some impressive range; stoic and rather one-dimensional in most of his other roles, the actor delivers a considerable variety of emotions. Dustin Hoffman is equally exceptional as Dega, Papillon's humble and unassuming friend. Based on a true story, director Franklin J. Schaffner has made a masterpiece about the indomitable will of the human spirit.

--D. Mikels, Author, WALK-ON
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the most amazing movies of all times..., September 4, 2004
wow this movie took my breath away. They really got Henri Charriere's life down hard in this (only a couple of changes but not bad ones) some of the scenes were very hard to take in some ways, you can really tell just by seeing some of what they did to him, that it wasn't easy. The relationship between Dega and Papi was very good. It really brought out the bonding they had and everything they went through together. The ending was very touching as well.

Steve McQueen was once again exeptional. Even though, he was protrayed as a cool tough guy as he usually is in all of his films, this movie showed more then that. In some scenes he really brought out the character. As a rough tough human being to a very emotional tortured person. it was just shocking how he managed to take your breath away with a twinkle in those stunning blue eyes. This movie is the movie that really made me fall head over heels with this guy. It's a shame that he didn't get and oscar nomination for this. He derseves it!

Dustin Hoffman did an extrememly good job on this character. (one of the best actors of all times)playing Papillon's scruffy, scrawny friend who went to prison for fake bank bonds. He made the character very believable especially at the end

I would have to say this is the most amazing movie i have seen in a long time. From beginning to the end it just took my breath away. Even though it is long, the time goes by really fast, and it is worth seeing
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Movie!!!, March 16, 2003
By 
Gregory Nyman (Winchendon, MA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Papillon [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Steve McQueen has given one of the "performances of his life" in this movie about a man who is incarcerated on "Devil's Island," the place where "no one gets out alive." Along with Dustin Hoffman, who is more apt to "accept mediocrity" and takes his fate quietly, the film is a tribute to the power of persistence, conviction, and never giving up.
McQueen and Hoffman do make an attempt at escape, and are punished for it, and the film follows McQueen as he continues to plot and figure out a way to leave the island. Of course we see how he is punished cruelly and the effects this has on his health and the aging process is phenomenal. At the end, of course, we see him get his reward, and it's an upbeat ending, although Hoffman settles for less, and it was no surpise that Devil's Island ultimately became just another part of the history books in criminal justice. The inhumane treatment was horrendous.
For a great adventure, this is it!!!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Details in Devil's Island, October 17, 2000
By 
This review is from: Papillon (DVD)
It is odd that Franklin Schaffner, the director of PAPILLON, is not better known. Repeated financial success and an Academy Award would, one would think, draw attention to his work. His best films, of which PAPILLON is an example, are visually handsome and thematically sophisticated. While it may seem perverse to call a film elegant in which one character is guillotined in close-up, another maims himself with a knife (again, in close-up), another eats insects because he's on starvation rations, another vomits in extended detail then gets beaten for it, and on and on, it is nonetheless the most appropriate word to describe the effect of Schaffner's coolly understated style.
Such incidents are neither sensationalistic nor unmotivated, but you can be forgiven for thinking that PAPILLON is an escape film in which the filmmakers have mixed feelings about getting their hero out of jail. The escape scenes have snap, but it is clear that Schaffner is far more interested in prison life in French Guyana. The prison camp was meticulously reconstructed for the film and we are spared few details of its functioning. As if to prove just how exact the sets are, shots of the ruins of the prison appear under the end credits so we can compare them to their surrogates in the film.
Such literal mindedness hampers Schaffner in the embarrassingly stolid dream sequences. When focused on the rhythms of the everyday, however, the method is almost abstractly precise. Close to a half hour is devoted to Charrière's solitary confinement, for example, yet as the camera moves back and forth relentlessly in the tiny cell with McQueen, Schaffner makes the sequences harrowing and compelling. You might prefer to be elsewhere, but you're never bored. (On the other hand, during the film's one respite, an extended sequence without dialogue when McQueen is taken in by a group of Central American pearl divers, you don't want to be anywhere else, you want to sign up.)
Schaffner was something like an American David Lean. They shared a similar Monumental Realism, a flair for widescreen composition and a fascination with the interactions between character and history. (Schaffner's films tend to be a bit more emphatically about power. The screenplay for PAPILLON, for example, was co-written by ex-Communist Dalton Trumbo, and his THE BEST MAN focuses on a political convention.) Perhaps with a re-make of PLANET OF THE APES on the way, his work will draw more attention. Films like PAPILLON prove they are more than worth it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Epic prison movie about a falsely accused man, June 1, 2005
This review is from: Papillon (DVD)
Papillon is a safecracker wrongly accused and convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison at a Devil's Island in Guiana, South America. He's determined to escape before he even reaches the island hiding a shiv (knife) and money. While on the boat over to the penal colony Papillon offers to protect the mousey Louis Dega (Dustin Hoffman)who's carrying money to bribe the guards for various items once he's at the colony. The two strike up a surprising friendship as Papillon plans his eventual escape from prison.

A fine film from featuring strong performances from the unlikely duo of Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman, "Papillon" isn't director Frankl J. Schaffner ("Planet of the Apes", "Patton", "The War Lord")best film but still packs considerable wallop. The film (for its time) was brutal in its depiction of prison life in the French penal colony system. Supposedly writer Henri Charriere based ont he novel on events from his life although I suspect that much of it is fiction. It's nevertheless powerful fiction.

The languid pace of the film may not be to everyone's liking; Schaffner shoots for the pacing (in a sense using pacing to recreate the stifling heat and humidity)of films like "The Bridge on the River Kwai". Featuring a number of marvelous performances including Anthony Zerbe as Toussaint the Leper Colony chief and Bill Mumy ("Lost in Space") as Lariot, it clearly was an inspiration for Stephen King's "The Shawkshank Redemption" (and Frank Darabont's film).

The transfer here appears to be the same one that appeared in the 2000. Presented in anamorphic widescreen, the image quality is still exceptionally good although the image is occasionally soft. There's also analog flaws due to the source print (and, in turn, probably due to the original negative). The film comes with a vintage "Making of" featurette. It's a pity that Hoffman wasn't asked to do a commentary track as I'd be fascinated to find out about the behind-the-scenes shooting from an actor's perspective. The sound while solid suffers from low volume and sometimes the dialog can be a bit indistinct. On the whole, though, the soundtrack has nice detail and comes across with nice clarity for most of the movie. Remastered for 5.1, "Papillon" the surround speakers don't get the work out one would expect from a brand new film but the film still sounds nice.

Featuring a terrific screenplay by Dalton Trumbo ("Spartacus", "Johnny Got His Gun", "Exodus") and Lorenzo Semple Jr. ("Three Days of the Condor", "The Drowning Pool", "The Parallax View") even if the story is primarily fiction (as is now claimed), it's a powerful drama. Keep in mind that the pace for this epic prison drama is quite slow throughout most of the movie. A bit of trivia is that Dustin Hoffman based on performance of Louis on Dalton Trumbo himself after they met to discuss working on the film.

This film is also now available as part of Warner Home Video's superb "Steve McQueen Collection" which also includes a remastered deluxe edition of "Bullitt", "Tom Horn" and a couple of other classic McQueen classics. If you have the previous edition of this classic movie I can't see necessarily upgrading unless you want the snapcase to store the movie in.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the penal colony of French Guianna., June 13, 2002
This review is from: Papillon (DVD)
This is an all time classic. It is a great action adventure movie that holds up even today. It is the story of Papillon, played magnificently by Steve McQueen. He is sent to prison for life for murdering a pimp. He struggles for his life and for freedom. He is the embodiment of sheer will. He refuses to be tamed and he never gives up though put through incredible cruelty and impossible odds. Dustin Hoffman is also great. Watching these two great actors from different generations and different methods is a great joust. The story is based on the life of Henri Charriere who was sent to Devils Island and finally escaped to freedom. The movie is set in Jamaica and Spain. The settings seemed so real that a visiting Charriere said that he "feared for his freedom." This was a huge box office smash and one of the tops at the box office in 1974.
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Papillon
Papillon by Franklin J. Schaffner (DVD - 1999)
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