Papillon (Blu-ray)

Based on the true story about French ex-convict Henri Charriére (Steve McQueen), a petty criminal who is unjustly convicted of murder, and his constant struggle to escape to freedom from the brutal French penal system at Guiana's infamous Devil's Island. On the way to the hellhole, he meets Dega (Dustin Hoffman), a convicted counterfeiter who relies on Henri for protection. The two men end up becoming good friends and they rely on each other for their survival.

While the performances are marvelous from both McQueen and Hoffman, the pacing of this movie is horrendously slow. I understand that director Franklin J. Shaffner is trying to show the struggle that Charriére endured to secure his freedom, but a good 45 minutes could have been left on the cutting room floor improving the overall enjoyment of the film.

Video Highlights

  • AVC/1080p encode on a BD-50 disc
  • Inconsistent video quality
  • First 20 minutes aren't impressive at all (blurry and noisy)
  • Vast improvement after initial disappointment

Audio Highlights

  • DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack
  • Front-heavy presentation
  • Intelligible dialog
  • Engaging score from Jerry Goldsmith

I wasn't at all impressed with the video encode for the first 20 minutes of the film, but then it blew me away with crisp detail and impressive color saturation. The audio track is pretty good considering its age, but don't expect to be blown away.

Bonus Materials

  • The Magnificent Rebel documentary
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Digibook packaging

I really enjoyed the first 2/3 of the movie, but found myself constantly looking at the clock the last 45 minutes and stopped caring about Charriére's quest to escape the island. That being said, the presentation is quite good and fans of the film will be pleased.

Release Date: May 24, 2011
Studio: Warner

Movie: 5/10
Picture: 8/10
Sound: 7/10

Review System

Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player

JVC DLA-RS40 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)

Integra DTC-80.2 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 power amplifier
Belkin PVA-PF60 power conditioner

M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer

Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector

Acoustical treatments from GIK Acoustics