The year is 1919 and it's forest rangers versus poachers in the Dolomite mountains in this Italian drama based on a morality tale by Dino Buzzati. The first scene, which contains no dialog, depicts the murder of a young ranger in the snowy peaks. Barnabo is a taciturn young ranger new to the mountains. He is a pacifist and is uncomfortable carrying his rifle. Upon his hand is a stigmata that periodically bleeds. The poachers murder another ranger. This time it is the commanding officer. The rangers organize a patrol to find them, but they are unsuccessful. It is Barnabo who locates them. They escape because he is unable, or afraid to shoot them. He is dishonorably discharged and now finds it hard to escape the label of coward. He leaves the mountains and becomes a farm-hand. While he labors, he reflects upon the experience and those of his life. A internal moral struggle ensues as he tries to make sense of it all and find some inner peace.