The music is very rhythmic. The camera work is fairly documentary-like giving us a feeling that we are viewing things few have seen. The editing is kinetic, not dwelling too long on most shots unless they need to be emphasized.
The characters are not presented in a normal manner, but I liked it. Characters freely flow in and out of the story more like they do in real life, rather than in the way structured movie plots usually establish and then wrap up a character’s existence. During the opening credits we hear the General (played by Dux) and the Colonel (played by Guiomar), heads of security, giving their conservative, military, anti-communist position for the type of country they want to form. We then meet the three men closest to Montand’s pacifist politician: Manuel (played by Denner), Matt (played by Fresson), and Georges (played by Bouise). They try to keep things legal in finding a place for him to speak. He wants to give people another option politically and this is seen as dangerous to the establishment. He has strong pacifist ideals that are twisted into communist leaning by others. In the scene with the angry mob attacking Montand’s character, we briefly meet Perrin playing a photojournalist, Vago (played by Bozzuffi), and Yago (played by Salvatori). The photojournalist at first is just interested in money. Vago and Yago are drunken thugs who play major parts in multiple acts of violence the night the angry mob gets out of control. Montand is then absent from the rest of the film except through flashbacks. His wife, played by Papas, then comes on the scene, stirring allegations of a bad marriage, though still grieving because I’m sure she suspects something is not right about what security tells her happened to her husband. Then just as quickly she is absent from most of the rest of the story. The Public Prosecutor (played by Perier) seems well intentioned, but the General and the Colonel feed him misinformation. The Public Prosecutor assigns a Magistrate (played by Trintignant) to what he thinks is a clear cut case. The Magistrate is not a communist sympathizer, nor is he willing to just accept the “facts” that the heads of security tell him. Trintignant plays a great stoic character who is committed to finding the truth. Nick (played by Geret) is the first breakthrough witness willing to identify someone responsible for the crime, counter to security’s claim that it was all an accedent. Nick is attacked too causing Perrin and Trintignant to both become invested in justice being done. Trintignant interviews many people with different versions of the event, but gradually the true picture begins to emerge. Amazing performances from all involved, with moments of humor, thrills, and tragedy. The movie moves along at a rapid pace.