powered by AFI
The Woman, an alluring temptress from the city, decides to extend her holiday in the bucolic countryside after enticing The Man, a married farmer, into having an affair. One night, The Woman, dressed in high-heeled shoes and a slinky dress and smoking a cigarette, saunters past The Man's window and signals him to meet her. The Man, restless and guilt-ridden, sneaks out of the house, leaving his guileless, loyal wife behind with their baby. As The Wife sobs alone at home, The Man trudges through the marsh to meet The Woman. While The Man and The Woman make passionate love in the moonlight, The Wife tearfully comforts her baby. After asking if he really loves her, The Woman urges The Man to sell his farm and come with her to the city. When she suggests that he drown his wife and make it look like an accident, he becomes outraged and tries to strangle her. His assault culminates in an erotic embrace, after which the woman entices him with images of the dazzling, vital city. Walking further into the marsh, The Woman gathers some bulrushes and tells The Man to use them to keep afloat after capsizing his boat. Returning home with an armload of bulrushes, the man hides them in the barn and climbs into bed and falls into a fitful sleep. In his dreams, he is haunted by images of a murky, menacing body of water. His wife tenderly covers him up with a blanket, and the next morning, he wakens with a start, imagining that the bulrushes have been discovered. While his wife feeds the chickens, he fantasizes that The Woman is caressing him. He then approaches his wife, takes her hand and proposes they go on an outing in his rowboat. As she happily changes her clothes and tells The Maid that she and her husband are taking a trip across the water, her husband envisions pushing her overboard. While he lumbers down to the water, the bulrushes concealed under his arm, she bounds onto the boat after entrusting their baby to The Maid's care. As they commence their journey, the husband grimly rows while glaring at his wife. When he stands up and looms threateningly over her, she cowers in fear. The sound of a bell interrupts his train of thought, and, after throwing his arms across his face, he sits down and begins to paddle again. Once they reach the other side of the water, the wife jumps out of the boat and races up the embankment with her husband in pursuit. When she trips, he catches up to her and beseeches her not to fear him. Pulling away from him, she boards a street car and he follows, and, as the trolley takes them into the city with its bustling crowds, he tries to reassure her. Upon reaching the city, The Wife, still shaken, runs into the street and is nearly hit by an oncoming car. After rescuing her from the onrushing traffic, The Man takes her to a café and contritely offers her a plate of cakes. She gingerly takes a piece, then begins to sob uncontrollably. He escorts her out of the café and buys her a bouquet of flowers. As they pause on the sidewalk, they see a bride and groom ascend the stairs to a church and follow them inside. When the minister admonishes the groom to protect his bride from all harm, The Man becomes overwhelmed with emotion and, as he wordlessly repeats the wedding vows, his wife comforts him. As the church bells peal, they exit the church, walking arm in arm. While embracing in the middle of a busy city street, their imaginations transport them back to the idyllic countryside. As The Wife clutches her flowers as if they were a bridal bouquet, they pass the window of a photography studio that is filled with photos of loving, married couples. After The Man gets a shave and haircut, they return to the studio where the photographer snaps their picture as they steal a kiss. Meanwhile, in the country, The Woman, plotting to sell The Man's land, circles real estate advertisements in the newspaper. From the studio, The Man and The Wife proceed to a carnival where The Man plays one of the park's games while The Wife longingly eyes couples dancing. Later, after sharing a dance and a drink, they leave the park, and as they depart, fireworks explode in the sky overhead. After sweeping his wife up into his arms, The Man puts her onboard the trolley and they return to their boat. As they glide across the moonlit water, she falls asleep and he tenderly draws her shawl over her. A sudden storm shatters their calm, awakening The Wife. While The Man struggles to steady the boat, a bolt of lightening illuminates the sky, awakening their baby at home. Retrieving the bulrushes he has hidden in the boat's hull, The Man ties them around his wife to keep her afloat. The boat then capsizes, sending them spilling into the water. Once the storm subsides, The Man swims to shore to discover that his wife is missing. Awakened by the sound of the villagers scrambling to search for The Wife, The Woman follows them and perches above the shoreline to observe the rescue effort. When The Man sees some scattered bulrushes drift ashore, he becomes convinced that his wife has drowned. Inconsolable, he returns home, kneels beside his wife's empty bed and buries his face in the covers. At that moment, The Woman comes to the house to claim The Man as hers. In a rage, he chases her into the road, and as he begins to strangle her, word comes that his wife has been found. After releasing The Woman, The Man runs to his wife's bedside. As the sun rises, The Woman leaves the village for good while The Wife awakens and kisses The Man.