Kotov, a persecuted commander reclassified as an ordinary convict, wakes up from a horrifying dream about Stalin to find himself in the midst of war. After his labour camp is blown up, he is drafted to a penal military unit. His daughter Nadya miraculously survives the sinking of a ship. She has never renounced her father and she has no idea to what extent his fate was determined by her mother’s old flame Mitya, a colonel in the NKGB (People’s Commissariat for State Security). Kotov, deployed to dig trenches outside Moscow, and Nadya, now a nurse caring for those injured at the front, are united only by memories.... Their story represents a mere fragment of the film’s tragic vision: the early stage of World War II was governed by chaos, botched military operations and unnecessary loss of life. The tangle of episodes presents a myriad heroes and victims, each with their own eloquently sketched character and destiny. This poignantly stylised fresco destroys the inviolable myth of the heroic wartime epic and creates its own myth of faith in divine providence, founded on the indestructible power of love and compassion.