Belarus. World War II. Floria, a sixteen-year-old protagonist, driven by his juvenile calling, leaves his family farm and joins the partisan forces. The boy witnesses the fascist extermination of the inhabitants of his home village. The shock he sustains profoundly alters his psyche. After the difficult combat against the German occupier, Floria starts wandering in quest of his lost home. The journey that should have made him an adult man, makes him become a wreck, a mere shadow of a man he might have become.

One should in vain look for the typical heroism or sacrifice in this film. The director guides the spectator through the Circles of Hell, which, to make matters worse, is seen through the eyes of the child. The level of cruelty in Klimov’s film has no competition. The film’s title is taken from the Apocalypse of St. John. The film is rooted deeply in Russian symbolism.