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In France during the German occupation, a young German naval officer is killed in Paris by a group of leftist activists. The compliant Vichy government seeks to appease the Germans by locating the perpetrators and agreeing to the execution of six people, and a special section is set up for this purpose. The section consists of judges who are too ambitious, cowardly or inhuman to refuse such work. The flames of totalitarianism must be stoked, even with innocent blood, and it is especially convenient to the government if the accused are thoroughly expendable in their eyes.
Source : Wikipedia
Costa-Gavras' film stirred some controversy as it told a story of Vichy France, which made some critics feel the piece was one sided about collaboration. Costa-Gavras aimed for the truth and he felt this film got this. Despite the debate, it opened to positive reviews in France and the U.S.