Papillon is a 1973 historical period drama prison film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman.


Convicted murderer Henri Charriere (Steve McQueen), known as "Papillon" for his butterfly chest tattoo, is transported to French Guiana to serve his sentence in a work camp. Determined to escape, Papillon forms an unlikely relationship with the frail but notorious forger Louis Dega (Dustin Hoffman), who reluctantly joins in the attempt. Despite the harshness of solitary confinement, brutal conditions and constant threats of betrayal, Papillon leads a desperate escape off the island.


  • Steve McQueen as Henri Charrière aka Papillon
  • Dustin Hoffman as Louis Dega
  • Victor Jory as Indian chief
  • Don Gordon as Julot
  • Anthony Zerbe as Toussaint, leper colony chief
  • Robert Deman as André Maturette
  • Woodrow Parfrey as Clusiot
  • Bill Mumy as Lariot
  • Richard Angarola as Commandant
  • George Coulouris as Dr. Chatal
  • Ratna Assan as Zoraima
  • William Smithers as Warden Barrot
  • Val Avery as Pascal
  • Gregory Sierra as Antonio
  • Vic Tayback as Sergeant
  • John Quade as Masked Breton
  • Mills Watson as Guard
  • Fred Sadoff as Deputy Warden
  • Ron Soble as Santini
  • Don Hanmer as Butterfly Trader
  • Mills Watson as Guard
  • Liam Dunn as Old Trustee
  • Richard Farnsworth as Manhunter (uncredited)
  • Peter Brocco as Doctor (uncredited)
  • Anne Byrne as Mrs. Dega (uncredited)
  • Dalton Trumbo as Commandant (uncredited)


Critical response

Roger Ebert's review at the time of the film's original release was two-of-four stars; he said that the main flaw was a failure to gain audience interest in McQueen's and Hoffman's characters: "You know something has gone wrong when you want the hero to escape simply so that the movie can be over."

Gene Siskel gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four and called it "just plain boring."

Papillon holds an 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 24 reviews.