Florya and a young friend dig for weapons, knowing that to find them means they will surely be enlisted into the Belorussian army to fight against the impending Nazi invasion. Florya finds a machine gun and, against his mother's wishes, becomes a young recruit.
He gets left behind on a deadly mission and dips into psychotic hysteria after becoming shell-shocked and partially deafened from a dropped bomb, unhelped when he finds the remains of his village when he returns home with Glasha, a girl whom he met as a recruit.
Florya is enlisted into the resistance, where he further learns of the terrible deeds of the Nazi's move across Belorussia.
Where director Elem Klimov took the idea for his film though would be from an entirely different war - Vietnam, as depicted in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now.
What Klimov managed to create is a harrowing, shocking and disturbing tale from a side of Europe not often portrayed in film. Aided well by the hallucinogenic theme, Klimov's film perfectly sums up the mood of Belorussians being hounded out in a genocidal manner.
Of course, his film would be nothing without his main actor - Aleksey Kravchenko as Florya. At only 16 years of age on the film's release, Kravchenko did a fine job of single-handedly helping to create his director's vision.
Simply beautiful and yet harrowing and disturbing.