In the autumn of 1950, after ten years of war and captivity in Russia, Bruno, an Italian worker, returns to his home country. There, people know of his decision to find and kill the person who betrayed his brother to the fascists and who is responsible for his death. The entire village knows the traitor, but they all fear that revenge will not bring justice to the village, but heap further guilt upon it. Nobody names the traitor. Fear and mistrust grow between Bruno and the others. They avoid him like the plague. Only Nella, the girl once promised to him, tries to find a way to approach the lonely man. But she has given birth to a child from a German soldier. And the terrible certainty that Pinin, her own brother, is the traitor Bruno seeks, stops her from approaching him.
The nightmare weighs heavily upon the village until one day Antonio, the carpenter, invites Bruno to his home. The events of the war have convinced Antonio that guilt cannot be atoned by revenge, but only by sacrifice. Only through sacrifice can humans find justice and peace. And so he claims to be the perpetrator and dies by Bruno’s hand. As Antonio lies there dying, he confesses his innocence. And when Bruno learns the name of the true culprit, he manages to overcome his hatred and refrains from taking revenge. Antonio has not died in vain.
Translated from: Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin 1951. Das offizielle Festprogramm, Nr. 3