Based on a novel by French author Michel Tournier, this drama chronicles the redemption of Abel, a French POW responsible for kidnapping dozens of young boys for recruitment by the Nazi SS during WW II. The film opens with black-and-white shots of Abel's childhood in Paris. The year is 1925 and already he has problems getting along with teachers and students. Then he is befriended by the portly young Nestor. Abel loses his only friend during a terrible fire that demolishes the school and leaves him convinced that he has been blessed by fate to survive. Fourteen years quickly pass; the story turns to color, and the now hulking Abel is seen working in a Paris garage. He also spends time with his girlfriend Rachel. It is she who playfully dubs him "ogre" because he is rather rough in bed. Abel has always loved children. He was good friends with little Martine, until she falsely accuses him of rape and he is sent to prison. During the war, he is freed by the German invaders who involve him with the upper echelons of the SS and give him a job as a hunting assistant on Goering's Bavarian estate.