ⓘ Section spéciale


ⓘ Section speciale

Section speciale is a 1975 French film, directed by Costa-Gavras and based on a book Laffaire de la Section Speciale by Herve Villere. It stars Louis Seigner, Roland Bertin, Michael Lonsdale, Ivo Garrani, François Maistre, Jacques Spiesser, Henri Serre, Heinz Bennent and Claude Pieplu. It is named after the Special Sections of Vichy France.

The film shared the Best Director prize at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival, and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film by the U.S. National Board of Review. It was also nominated for a Golden Globe award for best foreign film.


1. Plot

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.


2. Cast

  • Michael Lonsdale - Le ministre de linterieur
  • Michel Galabru - Le president Cournet
  • Henri Serre - Le delegue du ministere de linterieur en zone occupee
  • Hubert Gignoux - Le juge en noir
  • Jacques François - Le procureur de lEtat
  • Claudio Gora - Le premier president de la cour dappel
  • Nathalie Roussel
  • Louis Seigner - Le garde des Sceaux
  • Jean Bouise - Le conseiller Linais
  • Jacques Ouvrier - Le conseiller
  • Alain Nobis - Le premier conseiller
  • Roland Bertin - Le secretaire general du ministere de la Justice
  • Ivo Garrani - Lamiral
  • Claude Pieplu - Le president de la section speciale
  • François Maistre - Le delegue general
  • Pierre Dux - Le procureur general
  • Jacques Spiesser - Fredo
  • Heinz Bennent - Maj. Beumelburg

3. Additional notes

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.