The film, based on a novel of the same name by Kazimierz Brandys, examines the emotional casualties of war, which is perhaps the central theme of the Polish Film School. On a deeper level, the film manages to construct a personal tragedy that results from a struggle of egoism and cowardice versus devotion and courage.
On a plane bound for Paris, Felicja (Barbara Krafftówna), a successful radio actress, recalls the night in 1939 when she was to debut as Ophelia, with the man she loved, Wiktor (Zbigniew Cybulski), playing Hamlet. World War II intervenes, and Felicja takes a job as a waitress to avoid acting on a German stage, giving her lover sanctuary when he's accused of killing a collaborator. After the war, Wiktor can't get away fast enough, hot on the trail of fame and applause, and the woman who saved him is herself wrongly accused of collaboration. Years later, Wiktor and Felicja meet again, and the tables have turned.