I had the opportunity to watch a Tivo’d version of “Papillon” yesterday starring cutie-patootie Steve McQueen as Henri Charriere, a man wrongfully sentenced to a penal colony for a murder he didn’t commit. His only desire? To escape. Even if it kills him.
Some may think that this is just another escape flick for Steve McQueen, but this one easily stands above the only other one I’ve seen (“The Great Escape”). His performance is subtle and powerful and divine. At his side was Dustin Hoffman, playing counterfeiter Louis Dega. The two played well off each other, and the three-hour movie (remember: it was Tivo’d on regular tv so there were a LOT of commercials) was well-written and harrowing (for it’s time (1973 was the year the movie came out)).
This movie (adapted by Dalton Trumbo) was based on the book the same name written by the actual Papillon. I’ve seen varying opinions online over which is better, but I’m definitely now a fan of the movie. And how awful was that French Penal Colony in Guyana? Granted, I’m not one to think we should coddle our criminals while they serve their sentences for violent crimes, but the scenes of Papillon in Reclusion (solitary confinement) were pure torture and some of McQueen’s best work in the movie, hands down.
If you haven’t seen this movie, I recommend it. Even if you aren’t into 1) older movies, 2) prison movies, or 3) escape movies.
4 coconuts out of five.
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