The plot was inspired by an event the director heard about from Dr Kaczanowski, the director of the Tworki mental institution during the shooting of The Illumination there. It is set in Poland just before WWII. The main characters are foreigners: Nina and her husband Julian, the honorary consul of Uruguay who manages several factories and visits the homes of Polish aristocrats. Speaking of Nina, a mentally ill woman who dreams of sanctity, Zanussi touches on his favourite themes: the dual nature of man, the dichotomy of body and soul, the opposition of good and evil, the contradiction between nature and culture, and closeness of insanity and holiness.
Beautiful people, elegant surroundings - the baroque style of the film resembles the work of Visconti. You can clearly sense the creator's perspective, so typical for Zanussi's co-produced films of the 1980s - the cool look of a cosmopolitan.Villages, with dirty children and other motifs exotic for a civilised man from Europe and the elegant scenes of the life of Polish aristocracy alike - everything is drawn roughly, as if looked at through the window of a Western limousine.