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15th century French poet François Villon struggles to check his propensity for lying, cheating, stealing and killing, as he endeavors to stay out of prison, stay alive and prevent his life’s work from falling into oblivion.
Flash forward: Villon is arrested, imprisoned and sentenced to death for a murder he didn't commit. The Paris court hears his appeal and renders it's decision...
Villon is now seven years old. His poor, widowed mother leaves Villon in the care of a church lawyer, Guillaume Villon. Guillaume takes young Villon under his wing. Villon, who is already writing poetry, studies hard with the dream of working in the royal administration.
Villon's dream is shattered when he is blocked from working in the royal administration -- he can't escape his modest upbringing and the associated stigma. He quickly slides down a path of debauchery and thievery while still writing poetry.
He has a series of disastrous romantic encounters that result in severe corporal punishment. Such is the price for defaming the wrong woman at this time.
Villon starts to get settled -- a bit -- when he has a fluke encounter with a priest he knows. The priest is belligerent and attacks Villon with a dagger. The priest wounds Villon who defends himself. Villon plants his own dagger in the priest's thigh. The priest falls to the ground. Mounted police hear the priest's screams and are fast approaching. Villon grabs a stone and hurls it at the priest's head. Silence.