A slow, often fascinating, documentary-like study of an alien and primitive existence in a remote North African village, based on the book Change at Shebika by Jean Duvignaud. Only gradually, as the ways of 'civilisation' intrude, does the theme of rebellion emerge. The village men strike over their wages, bringing in the military; on a more personal level, an illiterate orphan girl's frustrations increase. At the film's centre lies an awareness both of the villagers' simple dignity (endorsed by almost every shot) and of the hopelessly stultifying impositions of a primitive culture upon the individual. Civilisation does offer knowledge, but with it comes exploitation and destruction.