A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Friendship created during hardship is powerful. Good men will stand up for each other under the threat of death. "A temptation resisted is a true measure of character."
Positive Role Models
Dega rewards his friend's loyalty by getting extra food to him during his solitary confinement. Grateful, the friend refuses to reveal to the warden who has been supplying the food. Papillon treats disfigured lepers respectfully and they help him escape.
Violence & Scariness
Prisoners are beaten, psychologically mistreated. Some blood is seen. Two men wrestle with a wounded crocodile so that the guards can sell the skin. 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; his severed head is seen. A prisoner is bitten by a bat; 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.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
It's suggested that a gay prisoner gives sex to a guard. The guard touches his bare chest and briefly moves his hand below the prisoner's pants. The prisoner then takes the guard outside the barracks to allow others to plan an escape. A Frenchman seeks refuge in a Guyanian village where native women are bare-breasted. No sex is seen but it's suggested that he has a sexual relationship with a young villager. A warden warns convicts against masturbating. Naked dead bodies are tossed around disrespectfully.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
"S--t," "bitch," "ass," "masturbate," "queer," "fairy," "poof," and "bastard."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Convicts drink rum. Adults smoke tobacco. Men on a primitive island chew on energy-giving powder and leaves, suggesting the use of cocaine.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a meticulously made adventure movie that shows off state-of-the-art technology of 1970s moviemaking, a time long before computer-generated special effects. Although the story isn't dated, the less-than-pristine color photography may puzzle some younger viewers. Director Franklin L. Schaffner (the Oscar-winning Patton) tames this shaggy story of unrelenting strife into a highly watchable, episodic saga about the drive for freedom at all cost. Henri Charriere was still alive and watched some of the shoot in Jamaica. (He died before the film was released.)
Older teens who like Papillon may be interested in the 2018 remake and discussing which version they prefer.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.