film poster by Richard Amsel
|Directed by||Franklin J. Schaffner|
|Produced by||Ted Richmond|
|Written by||Henri Charrière
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Editing by||Robert Swink|
|Distributed by||Allied Artists Pictures Corporation (USA)
Columbia Pictures (Non-USA)
|Release date(s)||December 16, 1973|
|Running time||150 minutes|
Papillon is a 1973 film based on a novel by French ex-convict Henri Charrière. The film was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and starred Steve McQueen as Henri Charrière ("Papillon") and Dustin Hoffman as Louis Dega. Due to the exotic locations, the film was considered as very expensive at the time of shooting ($12M), but earned more than double that in its first year of release .
A man makes friends with a fellow in-mate while they are serving sentence on a notorious island prison and he plots his hellish escape.
The petty criminal known as Papillon is unjustly convicted of murder (specifically, murdering a pimp) in the 1930s and sentenced to life imprisonment in a French penitentiary on Devil's Island in French Guiana. He attempts several escapes, which result in many punishments, but after more than a decade (at least seven years of which were spent in solitary confinement as punishment for his escape attempts), he eventually succeeds in escaping to freedom.
Papillon was filmed at various locations in Spain and Jamaica, with the cave scenes filmed beneath what is now the Xtabi hotel on the cliffs of Negril. While the penal colony scenes for Papillon were filmed in Falmouth, and the swamp scenes were shot near Ferris Cross, Steve McQueen’s famous cliff jumping scene, near the end of the movie, took place on the Xtabi cliffs . McQueen insisted on performing the cliff jumping stunt himself, and later referred to it as “one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life” .
The script made several deviations from the book; some of them are listed.
|Steve McQueen||Henri 'Papillon' Charriere|
|Dustin Hoffman||Louis Dega|
|Victor Jory||Indian chief|
|Anthony Zerbe||Toussaint Leper Colony chief|
|George Coulouris||Dr. Chatal|
|William Smithers||Warden Barrot|
In 1974, the film was nominated for Oscar and Golden Globe awards in the Best Music, Original Dramatic Score (Jerry Goldsmith) and Best Motion Picture Actor, Drama (Steve McQueen) categories, respectively.
Although the film has remained mostly underground, it has received strong positives reviews by some critics, holding a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes with 13 reviews.