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  • PG
  • 2h 30m
  • 1973
Common Sense Media Iconage 15+
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Academy Award-winner Dustin Hoffman ("Rain Man," "Tootsie") and Steve McQueen ("The Getaway," "Bullitt") star in this superb but brutal prison film about two convicts on Devil's Island and one's determination to escape, despite the odds. One of the year's top box-office hits!
© 1973 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media Iconage 15+
Common Sense Says
Classic prison-escape movie has intense peril, violence.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the 1973 Papillon is based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name describing the true-life exploits of Henri Charriere, a French safe-cracker sent on a one-way ticket to France's worst prison in colonial French Guyana. The two-hour-plus movie is filled with tension as the prisoners are mistreated, starved, beaten, and otherwise abused. Naked dead bodies are tossed around disrespectfully and life, friendship, loyalty, and other humane virtues have little value in this setting. Escape attempts are plotted for maximum suspense, which can make the final hour hard to watch. A gay character offers sexual services in return for leniency. Native villagers dress scantily, the women's breasts bared. A character utters a muted "s--t" in dire circumstances, and there are some gay slurs. Prisoners are beaten and psychologically mistreated. One prisoner spends six months in a totally dark cell receiving half rations until he's on the verge of death. A man is guillotined for bad behavior in front of other prisoners, and his severed head is seen. A prisoner is bitten by a bat and blood is seen in the wound. Prisoners hide items in their rectal cavities. Parts of a man's gangrenous leg are cut out without use of anesthetic.

A Lot or A Little?

The parents’ guide to what’s in this movie.
Positive Messages
Positive Role Models
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
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Additional Info

  • Genre:Drama
  • Release Date:December 16, 1973
  • Languages:English
  • Captions:English
  • Audio Format:
  • Screen Pass Eligible:Yes
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