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Original Papillon Movie Poster
The Mystery Tattooed Savior

Papillon, released in 1973 by Columbia Tri-Star, starred the actors Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. The lead role played by McQueen was Henri Charriere (in theory a true story about French Guinea, although this is widely disputed), but, throughout the film, he is refered to as "Papillon" because of the intricate butterfly tattoo emblazoned on his chest ("Papillon" is French for butterfly and also signifies the masculine).

The movie follows Pappy (as he is affectionately known) throughout his trials imprisoned on the French-Guianan Island known as Devil's Island and his numerous escape attempts. It is during one of these attempts that he lands on a neighbouring island and is taken in by a native tribe. In exhange for being fed, Papillon is required to tattoo the tribe's chief. He does this using ink made from oyster shell, soot and water, and applying the tattoo by hand.

Other tattooed characters also appear in the movie, including a hunter with a bold facial tattoo who kills the bounty hunters chasing them and offers passage to a leper colony from which they can buy a boat to continue their escape.

ISBN: B0000399WC (Find this at

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