* A twenty-five-year-old, well-dressed man named Papillon enters a French courtroom in 1931.
* Papillon claims to not know the star witness against him, a man named Polein, and insists that the police agreed to drop charges against Polein for some illegal action in exchange for testimony against Papillon.
* Papillon is accused of murdering a pimp named Roland de Petit and sentenced to life in prison at hard labor.
* Papillon escapes the death penalty because the jury apparently does not believe the murder was premeditated.
* Papillon discards the idea of an appeal because he knows he will attempt to escape prison.
* At the advice of a fellow inmate, Dega, Papillon gets a "plan" which is a small tube to hold money and stored in the colon.
* Papillon spentds all his time plotting how to escape and how to exact revenge against the prosecutors and witnesses...
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