Miereveld, a married lawyer, who teaches a special subject in a girls' school, cherishes a passionate but idealistic love for one of his pupils, the beautiful Fran Veenman. His feelings towards her remain unrevealed, and at the end of her school career, she passes from his life, apparently, for ever.
Years later, still brooding over his lost love, he accompanies a former colleague to a village for an autopsy. Here, at his hotel, he meets Fran, now a famous actress. Exhausted, disturbed by the gruesome spectacle of the autopsy, he falls asleep. In his dream he declares his love to Fran; first she responds, but then shatters him by confessing that there had been many men in her life. Miereveld shoots her. . . Some time later, in an asylum, he takes his first steps towards inner peace.
Like Le feu follet, shown at a previous Melbourne Festival, this film follows the devious, complex paths which lead from idealism to despair and insanity. In this film, as we watch the central character, observe the gradual development of his derangement, and follow the subtle psychological accuracy of the final sequences, fact and fantasy become indistinguishable.
Critics' Prize, Pesaro Festival; Special Prize, Mannheim Festival; First Prize, Antwerp Festival; Khalimer Prize, Hjeres Festival; British Film Institute Prize for Best Film of the Year.