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Customer Review

79 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of McQueen's finest, August 22, 2003
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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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 28, 2011 6:48:05 PM PDT
I loved this movie when it came out. It's one of my favorite McQueen movies along with The Sand Pebbles.

Posted on Sep 2, 2011 8:13:52 AM PDT
Jlynn_14 says:
You hit the nail on the head with your comment. I was fortunate enough to read the book first and I couldn't put the book down. I could see these characters in my mind perfectly. When I finally had the opportunity to see the movie, it's almost exactly what I had pictured in my mind and yes it is a dark movie but it is definitely worth watching. It is my favorite McQueen movie and I've never been a huge fan of Hoffman, but absolutely loved him in this movie. Thanks for such a great comment on a really great film!

Posted on Sep 22, 2012 3:35:22 PM PDT
David O says:
This is one my my all time greatest movies. Just to add to what has been said. The scenery is superb. Anthony Zerbe gives a moving performance as the Leper Colony Chief. This is a film about friendship.

Posted on Dec 4, 2013 9:18:48 PM PST
I remember seeing this movie as a 9 or 10 year old in the theatre and loving it. Some of the music in this movie still sticks in my head. This movie made me a Steve McQueen fan.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 18, 2014 9:21:45 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 18, 2014 9:25:00 AM PDT
Brent says:
This IS an absolutely unforgettable movie. This is one of many movies I remember seeing over and over when I was a kid. Both the movie and the music has stuck with me all these years. One comment, supposedly there was nowhere on the island to launch a boat. Thus the dramatic jump off the cliff ending. But one scene just before that happened Steve McQueen was anxiously going to tell Dustin Hoffman about his plan. He walked right by what seemed to be a perfect place to launch a boat...or at least float away on the coconuts without having to jump from the cliff. Just thought they should have not showed that particular scene to add credibility to the "no place to lauch a boat" theory.
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Review Details



T O'Brien

Location: Chicago, Il United States

Top Reviewer Ranking: 363,177