Summer, 1944. War darkens Europe. An aurora, though, has gilded Paris following its liberation after four years of occupation. Commissaire Jacques Bouttier, just appointed Chief of Police, pledges to a flag waving crowd on the Champs Elysees that the displacement of the enemy’s Gestapo with his Gendarmerie signals the invocation of forbearance against force. Police will protect! Police will respect! Once again the light of life will glow in Paris, even amidst the surrounding carnage in Europe!
The next day a gendarme rushes into the commissaire’s office and reports a crisis at the Jeu de Paume museum. A terrorist there is holding hostages and demanding to speak with the commissaire in person. Word of this incursion quickly spreads and foments outrage throughout the city. With the Gestapo finally dislodged, yet war closely raging, any sabotage carried out in Paris must be quashed! Calls for the use of force against terrorism assail the commissaire whose Gendarmerie is now responsible for the security of the city. As he prepares to confront this crisis at the museum, his salutary proclamation about forbearance the day before readily seems whimsical.