As he demonstrated in Secrets of the Heart, Armendáriz knows how to reveal the personal effects of a life of hidden secrets and rivalries. This is a depiction of a Navarre village in the years 1944-48 when many villagers were still in the hills fighting Franco. The director uses standard dramatic methods - he follows the return home of Lucía (Jiménez), and her involvement with 'smithy' Manuel (Botto), a resistance fighter - to tell the 'sombre' tale of those years. 'Why do we women always suffer the worst?' asks Lucía's auntie, herself living a double life with her Falangist husband, a token of the director's interest in showing the differing trials of both sexes. The film is strangely discreet, however, on the role of Comrade Stalin in this later chapter of the Spanish Civil War.