Man as the blind victim of his own innate violence forms the link in this three-part allegory on the futility of violence and war.
The opening sequence of the triptych (The Deserter), set during World War I, begins with the hunting down by the military of Kalman, a gypsy soldier, who deserts the battlefield and returns to his village. Here he finds his wife accompanying a gypsy band on their way to a wedding.
The gypsy music and folk festivities develop into a bloody massacre as a second deserter, a revolutionary agitator, incites the peasants against the land owners.
The second part (Sunday), takes place during the final days of World War 2. A group of partisans, led by a drunken Russian officer, commandeers a farmhouse from which they terrorise and plunder the Czech peasants whom they ostensibly have come to liberate from the Nazis.
The final episode (The Nomads) is a projection into the future. In a nuclear scarred world, the last survivors are a young girl and an old man (the symbolic Death figure) who has outlived the carnage of 1918 and 1945. But death reaps its own reward.