A young boy has formed an idealized image of his father, who has yet to be repatriated from Russia. When they finally meet they fail to get along. The boy withdraws more and more into himself, and the picture is concerned with how the two gradually develop a love for each other.
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Eight years after going off to war a man is repatriated (judging by the haunted expression probably from somewhere horrible, like Siberia), meets his wife and nine year-old son, and has to figure out how to live in the real world again. The father's anguish is mirrored by his son, who sees this sullen unknown person move into his contented life with Mother then take over, leading to the film's powerful final scenes.