Papillon Movie Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Penal servitude for murder and three escapes: the real story of Papillon (2017): What real events is based on the plot summary meaning, essence of the film, similar movies.

Country: USA, Czech Republic, Spain

Genre: Drama, Crime, Adventure, Biography

Year of production: 2017

Directed by: Michael Noer

Actors: Charlie Hunnam, Rami Malek, Roland Moeller

tagline: “The greatest true escape story ever”

Michael Noer’s painting Papillon is the second adaptation of the famous autobiographical work of the same name by Henri Charrière. The film Papillon is based on real events. He talks about the strength of the spirit, the persistent desire for freedom, and about a miracle that sometimes really happens.

Based on real events

A real person, Henri Charrière, served in the French Navy from a young age. Disappointed in military affairs, he resigned, and then slowly entered the underworld. Because of the butterfly tattoo on his chest, he was called the Papillon. In the early thirties, he was tried for murder and sentenced to life in prison. Papillon (he himself considered himself innocent) was to serve time in hard labor in French Guiana.

Charlie HunnamThe role of Henri Charrière was played by Charlie Hunnam. Frame from the film.

The real story of Charrière was really worth it to be filmed twice. After making the first escape, he lived for several months among the Colombian Indians, then he was again caught and sent to a more severe prison. He tried to escape from there too, but failed.

After serving in solitary confinement and achieving some mitigation, he saved the child. As a reward for this solitary confinement, he was replaced with imprisonment on Devil’s Island, from where no one had ever escaped. However, Papillon succeeded.

Once free at the age of 37, he decided to live honestly. Sharière told the world about his adventures in a book that instantly became a bestseller. It was filmed twice – in 1973 and in 2017.

Real HenriElderly Henri Charrière after pardon.

What is the movie about

Brief description of the content of the film. Paris, 1931 A young man named Henri Charrière opens a safe in someone’s apartment. After that, he goes down the drain and goes to the cabaret, where he will have a meeting with the owner of the establishment and give him the prey – diamonds. He takes the jewelry and opaquely hints to the young man so that he does not even try to hide part of the proceeds from him.

However, Papillon passes it on deaf ears and gives one of the most beautiful decorations to his girlfriend. This does not go unnoticed, and in the morning government agents break into the thief’s apartment. He is accused of killing a pimp and punished to the fullest extent of the law – they give him a life sentence. Saying goodbye to his girlfriend, Henri promises her to soon escape from prison.

In prison, one of his brothers in misfortune, Julot, introduces Henri in absentia to the counterfeiter Louis Degas – after all, he will need money to escape, which he probably has. Once, after a medical examination, the prisoners are informed that they will soon be deported to French Guiana, a terrible colony in South America. On the ship, Henri approaches Louis and offers him patronage in exchange for money. At first, he refuses, but, having thought well, accepts the proposal of the Butterfly.

Rami MalekRami Malek played the role of Louis Degas. Frame from the film.

Soon the ship with the prisoners arrives at their destination. The commandant immediately informs them that there is no point in trying to escape – who will not be shot on the spot, put in solitary confinement for 2 years, and in case of relapse – for 5 years. In the most severe cases, the commandant is sure, the guillotine will heal the rebel (at the beginning of the 20th century it was still actively used).

However, Henri cares little about this – he has already matured the idea of ​​u200bu200ba daring escape. To do this, he and Louis get a job as orderlies in the infirmary in the enterprising Julot. Everything seems to be going according to plan, but the counterfeiter is recognized by the deputy commandant, who has personal scores with him.

After that, Henri and Louis are sent to carry heavy loads, where they meet an old-timer named Cellier. He himself thinks about escaping, but none of his strategies makes any sense without money.

Papillon continues to frantically search for a way out and even enters into an unsteady agreement for help with a resident of the island, who moonlights as a ferryman and brings courtesans to the prison for entertainment.

Skirmishes continue in the prison. Soon, Louis, realizing that he simply will not survive here, asks Henri to take him with him, and he agrees.

But the next day, things don’t go according to plan, and Papillon has to improvise. In the end, having managed to escape (he has to leave his comrade), Papillon gets to the ferryman’s boat. He has no money, but he promises to pay later. He laughs in his face – he and the commandant have a well-paid contract for catching fugitives …

Eve HewsonEve Hewson starred as Nenneta. Frame from the film.

Henri is sent to solitary confinement for two years and put on a starvation ration. Suddenly, one of the prisoners secretly sends him “contraband” – a piece of coconut. Perked up, Papillon prepares for a new escape, but the guards soon notice that Anri is being fed by someone. The prison authorities want to know who is doing this, but Papillon, who is well aware that this is the work of Louis, is in no hurry to give them a clue.

After two years of imprisonment, Henri is transferred to the infirmary, where he plays the role of a lunatic. Louis, meanwhile, manages to “get promoted”, he works as a prison clerk and even has some freedom. He visits a friend in the hospital, tells him that he is still hatching the escape plan and enlightens him on the details of the plan. The swindler plans to run away during an open-air film show arranged by the commandant “for his own”.

Having arranged the plan for a good analysis and having examined it from all sides, Papillon accepts it and begins to work out the details. In particular, he feigns a rampage, and the doctor gives him a sedative. Henri puts the medicine away and hides it. A little later, he meets with Selye, who says that if he has money, he can get a boat. Louis has to give him almost everything that is left.

On the appointed day, playing the role of a waiter, the guy treats the prison guards with vodka with a sedative. After knocking out one of the guards and taking the keys from him, the fugitives are waiting for Louis to appear. It starts to rain inopportunely and the open-air film show has to be interrupted. Due to a short circuit, the lights are turned off everywhere and in the confusion the friends manage to escape.

Louis unsuccessfully jumps off the wall and breaks his leg. However, they still manage to get to the boat and soon they are out on the ocean. The boat begins to sink, a conflict flares up between Selye and Henri, and the first almost kills the second. The frail Louis comes to the aid of a friend and begins to inflict violent blows on the huge Selye … The friends dump the corpse into the water, and after that a storm begins in the ocean.

Roland MöllerRoland Möller as Beber Cellier. Frame from the film.

Surprisingly, they survive and are picked up by Christian missionaries living among Colombian Indians. Having licked his wounds, Papillon calls his friend to go on, but he refuses. Henri decides to leave alone and quite by chance sees the patrolmen, who were called by the friendly nun who sheltered them. He runs to warn his accomplices (another guy ran away with Louis), but does not have time. Friends are detained and Louis tells Papillon that he is infinitely touched by his act.

This time, Henri is sent to solitary confinement for 5 years. After this time, he is sent to the Devil’s Island – a terrible prison on a lonely rock in the middle of the ocean. It is impossible to escape from there, because there is nowhere to go.

There, in an ancient fortress, the most malicious offenders, who are left to their own devices, live out their last days. There Henri meets the aged and gray-haired Louis, whom the commandant sent here into eternal exile five years ago.

The Papillon does not smile at the prospect of being here, and he begins to plan a new escape. To do this, he needs access to the ocean. Louis leads him to a cliff from which, theoretically, you can jump into the water and survive. But where then to sail without a boat? ..

An absolutely crazy idea comes to Henri’s head – to make a raft and throw it into the water. Louis helps a friend build a raft, but refuses to run with him – unlike the Papillon, he has nowhere to go …

Friends say goodbye, after which Henri throws the raft into the water and jumps after. He manages to swim out, his friends say goodbye again and the Papillon, clinging to the raft, surrenders to the mercy of the ocean …

Papillon ending explanation

The explanation for the ending of the film Papillon is quite simple. It’s been 30 years since Papillon escaped. The aged Henri flies to Paris, goes to the publishing house and puts his manuscript on the table, in which he captured all the adventures that he had experienced. He wants his notes to be published in France, the country that sentenced him to such a life.

At the end, the pictures show archival footage, and we learn that even during the life of Papillon, the terrible prison from which he escaped was abolished. The book became a bestseller, and the Minister of Justice personally pardoned Sharière.

The meaning of the ending of the film Papillon is probably that the will to freedom and faith in oneself is everything. The book ending (like the novel itself) is more poignant, but the interpretation of all the actions of the hero there was a little different: he escaped from prison for a reason, but because he wanted to find and punish the judge who delivered an unfair sentence. But by the time Papillon found the culprit of his suffering, many years had passed and both of them had become old men. Sharier did not touch the former judge …

The meaning of the film Papillon

The book of Henri Charrière belongs to the genre of adventurous prose. Although it is believed that in it the author described not only his own, but also other people’s adventures, she has retained the status of a bestseller for fifty years. This is due not only to the fact that the source book is interestingly written, but also to the fact that it has a hidden meaning.

prison sunsetFrame from the film.

Completely immersing the reader in a terrible prison world in which human lives break down, connection with reality is lost, and the mind ceases to adequately perceive the surrounding hopelessness, it tells about the human soul. In the abyss of darkness, despair and hopelessness, a Papillon symbolizing it flutters. As befits him, he flies into the light, to freedom …

The content of the film is different from the book. What made the book a bestseller disappeared from him – the atmosphere of hell on earth, from which a living soul escapes. However, the language does not turn to call the picture pure action.

We see all the events of Papillon through the eyes of the protagonist and, psychologically joining him, comprehend the simple essence of the film. The painting by Michael Noer tells how a person who wants to live in spite of the events in which he finds himself, brings up tremendous fortitude in himself. Thanks to the high goal, he becomes almost invulnerable. The idea of ​​freedom becomes a basic aspect in his mind, and all the troubles that he experiences are perceived by him as temporary difficulties.

Papillon is a unique hero. Cheerful and optimistic, he makes us think about what our problems and difficulties really are, what priorities should be put at the forefront, and most importantly, how valuable the life of any individual person is.

Papillon is a rather heavy, gloomy film from the “not for everyone” category. But what can be gleaned from this amazing story is really very important.

maritime freedomFrame from the film.

Similar films

Here are a few films similar in meaning to the movie Papillon:

  • “The Shawshank Redemption” (USA, 1994). Andy Dufresne is accused of murder and sent to serve time in one of the worst prisons in the country. However, he manages to escape from there.
  • “Escape from Pretoria” (UK, Australia, USA, South Africa, Germany, 2020). The hero, sent to one of the toughest prisons, plans to escape.
  • “Midnight Express” (UK, USA, 1978). An American student is sentenced to 30 years in a Turkish prison for trying to smuggle drugs. The guy disagrees.
  • “Escape from Alcatraz” (USA, 1979). Frank Morris, an incredibly smart and cunning criminal who has escaped from prison several times, is transferred to Alcatraz and told that it is impossible to get out of here. The man takes it as a challenge.
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