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Papillon [DVD]

Steve McQueen , Dustin Hoffman , William Smithers    Suitable for 15 years and over   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
Price: £9.97 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, Victor Jory, Don Gordon, Anthony Zerbe
  • Directors: William Smithers
  • Producers: Jerry Goldsmith
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: UCA
  • DVD Release Date: 1 Feb 2010
  • Run Time: 145 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0038AL78I
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,981 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Franklin J Schaffner's Papillon is quite possibly the definitive prison escape drama. Not as thrilling as The Great Escape, nor as emotionally cathartic as The Shawshank Redemption, its unflinching emphasis on the barbarism of "civilised" societies is nevertheless unparalleled. Significantly, the only characters to display any real kindness in this film are the social outcasts: the lepers and native Indians; everyone else has been corrupted and debased by the true villain, the penal system itself. Based on Henri Charrière' s heavily fictionalised "autobiography", the film's timeless themes of man's insatiable desire for freedom and the indomitability of the human spirit are thankfully not dependent for their impact on the source material's veracity. Dalton Trumbo's liberal-minded screenplay echoes the themes of his earlier script for Spartacus, and Schaffner's innate gift for epic cinema (this was made just two years after his great war biography Patton) is fully equal to the task of realising it on screen. The director's painterly eye for widescreen composition and his careful pacing impart a gravitas to proceedings even during the film's most squalid depictions of brutality, of which there are many emphasising the cheapness of human life among the convicts and their equally criminal prison guards in the penal colony of French Guiana. Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman form a remarkable screen pairing, with Hoffman outstanding as the pusillanimous Dega. McQueen magnificently overcomes his tough-guy persona in the extraordinary solitary confinement sequences as he is gradually reduced to a shambling, cockroach-eating wreck. Longtime collaborator Jerry Goldsmith, who had previously scored Schaffner's Planet of the Apes and Patton, attained yet another career high with his music.

On the DVD: The anamorphic widescreen print of the original Panavision 2. 35:1 ratio looks fine without being as stunning as some more modern prints; the Dolby 5.1 audio does however do great service to Jerry Goldsmith's score, which can also be selected separately from the Audio Setup menu as an isolated track (note that there's no music at all in the first 20 minutes of the film). The 12-minute "Magnificent Rebel" featurette was made at the time of the film's release , and includes some fascinating footage of Henri Charrière touring the prison se t, reminiscing about his experiences and pontificating ("Society does not want free men, society wants conditioned men"). --Mark Walker

Product Description

Henri 'Papillon' Charriere's account of life in the infamous and reputedly inescapable Devil's Island prison, brought to the screen with Steve McQueen as its eponymous hero. Refusing to surrender to the cruelty of the prison regime, Papillon protects the bespectacled Louis Dega (Dustin Hoffman) from an abusive guard, makes a bid for freedom, and ends up spending a long spell in solitary confinement. When he is finally released back into the main prison, he again refuses to surrender and, along with Dega, makes another escape attempt.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Papillon Blu Ray 20 July 2011
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
This warner bros US import is region free and plays perfectely on my UK sony player.

This disc is a must have if you are a Steve Mcqueen or Dustin Hoffman fan.

The film itself is a classic and if you're reading this review i'm sure you're interested in the Blu Ray quality the 1080P transfer has plenty film grain some parts of the film look soft especially the opening credits but once the film gets started the picture is very good and miles better than the sd version. The Blu Ray is also a digibook which is great.

The special features on the disc are poor which is unfortunate but if you are a fan of this movie it is worth importing this disc.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars cinamatic masterpiece 24 Feb 2012
By jed
this movie is the best prison escape film ever made not only that you have two of the greatest actors of all time mcqueen and hoffman and if thats not good enough in my opinion these are the roles that are their best.this is the story of two men serving time in a brutal french penal colony and their attemts at escape,it is based on a true story and shows the inhumane treatment of the prisoners.if you want an all action film this is not for you but if you like a film with a proper story ,engaging characters and real depth you cant do better.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak but brilliant 26 Sep 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A pretty stark depiction of the human spirit and how quickly normal people can become dehumanised by their conditions, but balanced out by the characters played by McQueen and Hoffman (together with the chaacters that come into the story and help them out). It's not always the actions of the prisoners that are brutal either, the establishment - both guards and civilians - are also portrayed in a damming light. Brilliant acting from McQueen and Hoffman as they are able to pick up their characters and bring out their differing but complimentary personalities perfectly.

I'd agree with the comment that you wouldn't watch it much more often than once every five years as it's a long film and quite heavy going; but when you do you'll be drawn into it without fail.

Cinematically it's also very impressive with brilliant use of locations and atmospheric sound, including effective use of silence when some films may have shied away and felt that they needed music.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars present 2 Jan 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
they loved it. Years ago I saw this and just lately my partner is very interested in it. Great gift
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simply steve mcqueen at his best 29 Dec 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I started off thinking this might not be the movie for me but as it starred Steve McQueen I bought it. I then found this movie to be action packed, thrilling and at some points brought a tear to my eye. Simply an amazing film
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Hero 1 Dec 2012
By dunner
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Steve McQueen was my all time hero. I have enjoyed nearly all his films the Papillon being no exception. I thought the quality of the DVD was excellent in spite of the fact it is an old film. His co star Dustin Hoffman played an excellent part as well. Good value for money I enjoyed every minute
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ten out of ten 31 Oct 2012
By Jacqui
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I've had this book for about 35 years and only just read it!! I enjoyed it so much i just had to get the film, which isn't always as good as the book. In this case though, the book was brought to life, and i loved it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I read a few reviews of this before buying it and people were saying that it was quite accurate to the book, but I have to disagree. Without giving too much away all I will say is that there has been a lot of pieces changed around, characters, places etc. There is also a lot of key points missing. I understand it would be impossible to fit it all into the DVD but in my opinion it could have been done better. By all means this is a good film, but if you have just finished reading the book you will probably be slightly disappointed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good
Published 29 days ago by malcolm mcnally
5.0 out of 5 stars BLU RAY VERSION
This version is a must if you like this film. The picture quality varies a bit from scene to scene but is mostly very good. The story is very good with a top cast. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mr. A. Smith
1.0 out of 5 stars Disapointing
After reading the inspirational story, the film was a real let down.It was disjointed and omitted many of the detail.
Published 4 months ago by Glenn Blaney
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Delighted to get this DVD as it was released 40 years ago and it is part of a birthday hamper. Excellent service from this seller -
Published 5 months ago by Ms. Marie Osborne
5.0 out of 5 stars Top film
This is one of the classic films of the modern day. Delivered OK. It was bought for my library so not viewed.
Published 5 months ago by Enid Blighter
5.0 out of 5 stars film
have watched this film before but now i've got it on dvd so can watch it anytime loved it just as much as when i saw it the first time
Published 5 months ago by Mrs. B. Ormondroyd
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Film
This film is a testament to the human spirit. Never give up. Powerful performances from Duston Hoffman and Steve McQueen, gripping until the last.
Published 6 months ago by Mavis
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic film
Purchased as a Xmas present for my husband. He loves this film. The acting is brilliant and he would watch it over and over again!
Published 6 months ago by lynne crook
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Prison Film By Far!
Excellent Plot, Excellent Acting, Excellent Location and scenes, A MUST SEE, those that have given less stars
and bad write ups should stick to reading nursery rhyme books... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mr. M. J. Traverse
5.0 out of 5 stars great film
received in good condition, all star service and very enjoyable film. good rates on p & p to northern Ireland.
Published 8 months ago by anne fitzsimons
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