Papillon ★★★★

We really are something arent we? The only animals that shove things up our arse for survival.

First time watch: August 2020
Source: Amazon Prime

Papillon is a 1973 prison drama directed by Franklin J. Schaffner (Planet of the Apes) and starring the talents of Dustin Hoffmann and Steve McQueen. The ambitious and diverse 150minute story of inmates attempting to escape from prison is well crafted and acted yet bleak and overlong.

With a simple prison break plot I look for a few things;
✅ Characters I can get behind and want to see get free.
✅ Detailed prison life and its effects on the inmates wellbeing.
✅ Interesting escape planning and execution.

Papillon has this all in spades although its execution isnt always as good as it could have been. Its biggest positive is the performances on display. Whilst Dustin Hoffman is once again in fine form and disappears into the role of Dega its Steve McQueen in the title role who powerfully takes centre stage as his portrayal of a desperate man willing to do anything to free the shackles of prison life. McQueen is able to effortlessly provide the audience an authentic display of human natures need to survive as well as the deterioration of the mind during isolation. He's gritty and raw and for my money one of his best performances on screen.

Papillon hits the expected beats whilst Director Franklin J. Schaffner has done a terrific job supported by excellent production design (minus the terrible fake blood) and score. The only thing that ruined the ending was the voiceover explanation of what happened next, it was unnecessary and I would have preferred to assume my own destiny for the characters.

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