Banned for a decade, Gherman's anti-war film avoids all butchery to make its case through a subtly layered interplay between fact, fiction, and the evidence of the landscape and the human face. Lopatin (Nikulin), a writer and war correspondent, is on leave from the front during World War II. Travelling home by train, he listens impassively to a soldier's marital problems, and watches a young woman in tears; most of the incidents appear at a tangent to the theme, yet evoke the feel of an emotional destitution. Lopatin's responses are at their least dislocated in his reaction to the filming of one of his books, which processes his reality into inspirational propaganda. His brief affair with the woman who cried on the train is the sole positive in this portrait of an unremittingly anguished era.