The film is an adaptation of a highly lyrical and reflective novel by Stanislaw Dygat, with a screenplay written by Dygat and Has. Taking place in Poland during the late 1930s and early 40s, this melancholy film evokes the insecurity and despair pervading Poland at the time. The story begins immediately before World War II and centers on Pawel (Tadeusz Janczar), a member of a conservative, bourgeois family, and his love for the thoroughly jaded Lidka (Maria Wachowiak), a dancer. The mismatched pair finds momentary happiness during a trip to the countryside, however social conventions and the lovers' inability to defy them force Pawel and Lidka to part. The times change, war breaks out and ends; Pawel suffers at Auschwitz concentration camp and Lidka marries his cousin. Years later the two rediscover each other much changed, and find that they may still have the capacity for love.