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Papillion

June 26, 2006

I like to watch movies with other people because I like to be able to discuss the movie afterwards.  However, since Eric is the only person I know, and he doesn't like movies much (he's very picky) I don't often get a chance to do that.  But lucky for me he likes Papillion so we were able to watch it together.

For a movie about prison escapes there really wasn't a whole lot of detailed planning or in genious plotting.  It's just a man who runs whenever possible.  Kind of silly he always tried to get a boat, since that basically tipped people off that he was going to run and wasted his money.  He could have stolen a boat, or just walked.  But I don't think they were trying to portray him as a bright man, just a very determined one.

I'm always curious about how filmmakers portray the passage of time in films.  Some use the cheesey montage-with-music, some just fade out and fade in later with the actor appearing older, and some use a "7 years later" undertitle or something cheap like that.  But Papillion did a really, really good job of making it appear that 2 years go by in solitary confinement, and I don't even know how they did it so good.  If we ever buy the film I think I'll watch the scene again to see how they did it, but I think the dream sequences help for a disorientating sense of time passage.  Certainly the make-up on Steve McQueen was expertly done as well, but to see him age so fast without the scenes of madness coming on would not have worked.  Anyhow, I need to research this more.

By the end, when he is on Devil's Island with his friend Dega, I kept thinking "Wow, that's not such a bad place".  He's got a house, a garden, stuff to eat and drink, a friend to spend time with, no guards, no abuse, and a beautiful view of the ocean.  Why on earth would he risk his life trying to escape when life on the outside would probably not even be as good.  Maybe it's kind of like what I have, the need to move without really knowing if where I'm going is going to be better or not, but just being unsatisfied with where I am.  And I think about how Buddha lived under a bohdi tree on bananas and rice and most people think his life probably sucked, but he was perfectly content.

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