Synopsis: A semi-fictional account of Henri Charrière's time in the penal system in French Guyana - some of it spent on infamous Devil's Island - is presented. It's the early 1930s. Charrière - nicknamed Papillon because of his butterfly tattoo - and Louis Dega are two among many who have been convicted in the French judicial system, they now being transferred to French Guyana where they will serve their time, never to return to France even if they are ever released. A safe-cracker by criminal profession, Papillon is serving a life sentence for murdering a pimp, a crime for which he adamantly states he was framed. Dega is a wealthy counterfeiter, who expects his well-to-do wife eventually to get him released. On Papillon's initiative, Papillon and Dega enter into a business arrangement: Papillon will provide protection for Dega, while Dega will finance Papillon's escape attempt. As Papillon and Degas' time together lasts longer than either expects, their burgeoning friendship ends up being an im
Production: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
151 min

All present and accounted for, sir.

Thank you, Captain.

As of this moment... are the property of

the Penal Administration of French Guiana.

After serving your full terms in prison...

...those of you with sentences...

...of eight years or more...

...will remain in Guiana... workers and colonists...

...for a period equal

to that of your original sentences.

As for France...

...the nation has disposed of you.

France has rid herself of you altogether.

Forget France and put your clothes on.

Papillon! Papi!

You'll be back, Papillon.

Don't worry, you'll be back.

No, you won't.

You, that way.

Down there. You, too.

Next, over here. Come along.

Come on. Come in here.

You, too.

Over there.

Come along, up there. Hurry up.

You, too. Down.

Down. In there.

In there.

Come along, now. Down.

Come on down. Down there.

Come on, up there.

In there.

We're really something, aren't we?

The only animals in the world

that shove things up their ass for survival.

The first time I shoved one up my gut... infected me so bad

the camp doctor had to cut it out.

He doesn't have any ether... he knocks me out with rum.

Then you know what he did?

He stole it.

A butterfly.

You're Papillon, aren't you?


The bastards gave you life.

Right to the end of the line, they think.

It may not be as long as you think.

Forty percent of us will die...

...the first year out.

They gave him life, too.

The kid's only 18.

Look at him. No wonder he dreams.

He'll never make it.

But a man like you could make it...

...if you have enough money.

How long were you there?

Nine years of work camp...

...nine years a colonist.

You were outside the walls.

Why didn't you run?

There's no place to run to.

You're out in the middle of a swamp,

Now, if you've got a lot of money

that's a different thing.

I mean, you take somebody

like Dega there. Back there.

Louis Dega.

The best counterfeiter in France.

National Defense Bonds.

-Series of 1928.


Now, if you've got money like he has,

there's a chance to buy your way out.

That is unless somebody cuts

his guts open first to get at all that cash.

Everybody up! Let's go!

Everybody up!

Come on, everybody up! Let's go!

Let's go!

Mind if I sit down here?

If you wish.

You're Dega, aren't ya? Louis Dega?

Sorry to see you here.

I presume most of us have earned

our passage.

You're Papillon. You got life for killing

a pimp. Then you had the bad taste... tell the prosecutor you were going

to escape and kill him, too.

I was framed. I'm innocent.

No one is innocent.

I'm no pimp killer, for Christ's sake.

I'm a safecracker.

And that's a profession of which

I thoroughly disapprove.

I put almost everything I had

into National Defense Bonds.

Series of 1928.

Your instincts were sound.

How much did you lose?

I wouldn't put my money on those bonds.

Not any more than you would.

I'm relieved to hear that.

If that's true,

why are we having this little chat?

Every convict on this ship knows

who you are.

Any of them would slit you open to

reach inside and get what you're carrying.


You need protection.

From you?

Remember what the chicken said

to the weasel?

If he was a healthy weasel, the chicken

didn't get a chance to say anything.

Think about that.

Hose down!

Come on, off your asses! Hose down!

Come on, you've got a fever.

Do what I tell ya.

Come on.


I've got a question.

If I wanted to get a boat when I got there,

a small boat, maybe a 15-footer... much would it cost?

I don't know. Fr 3,500, Fr 4,500, maybe.

It all depends.

What if I could pick up the money

to buy one?

Then I guess you'd have yourself a boat.

You know the country.

You and I could make it out of there. Huh?

The answer is no. Nothing against you,

but the answer is no.

If I've gotta go to solitary for

some half-assed escape that didn't work...

...l want the mistake to be mine,

not anybody else's. You understand?

So the answer is no.

How'd it feel, kid?


All right. Come on, move it!

Move it a little. Let's go!

Let's move!

What do you want?

Almost unbearable, isn't it?


The heat.

It's not too bad.

Of course, you're closer to it than I am.

Oh, yes. You're referring to last night,

aren't you?

Well, aren't you?

May I tell you something?

At first glance I'm afraid

that I regarded you with rather...

...a large degree of unworthy suspicion.

Am I clear?


Well, it now seems quite possible

that until we get to a decent jail...

...with bribeable guards,

I may stand in some need of...

...rather close physical protection.

It depends on how long you want to live.

Oh, a long time.

Then you got a problem.

Well, I presume that you have some...

...goals, some particular need that...

...outweighs all others.

I mean, if so, may I ask what it is?


For what?


Very good.

You keep me alive...

...until we land in Guiana and I will

underwrite any escape you care to arrange.

Escape for me. Not for us.

Of course.

I have no intention of even attempting

an escape. Ever.


Thank you.

Leave him alone...

...or I'll cut your head off!

Hide this!

Over there is Saint Joseph.

The other island is Royale.

The one on the right is Devil's.

Julot, why is it so hard

to escape from there?

A man could almost swim to the mainland.

No, there must be a better way

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Dalton Trumbo

James Dalton Trumbo (December 9, 1905 – September 10, 1976) was an American screenwriter and novelist who scripted many award-winning films including Roman Holiday, Exodus, Spartacus, and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. One of the Hollywood Ten, he refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1947 during the committee's investigation of communist influences in the motion picture industry. He, along with the other members of the Hollywood Ten and hundreds of other industry professionals, was subsequently blacklisted by that industry. His talents as one of the top screenwriters allowed him to continue working clandestinely, producing work under other authors' names or pseudonyms. His uncredited work won two Academy Awards: for Roman Holiday (1953), which was given to a front writer, and for The Brave One (1956) which was awarded to a pseudonym of Trumbo's. When he was given public screen credit for both Exodus and Spartacus in 1960, this marked the beginning of the end of the Hollywood Blacklist for Trumbo and other screenwriters. He finally was given full credit by the Writers' Guild for all his achievements, the work of which encompassed six decades of screenwriting. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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