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In Spain, in the spring of 1936, farmer Marco, who is devoted to his land, looks forward to the day he will be able to buy a tractor. When a woman named Norma, who is on the way to Castelmare, crashes her expensive car near Marco and his friend Luis, they tow her there with their cattle. Norma is going to meet her father Basil, an art and antiques dealer. Though Marco is a simple farmer, he has learned poetry and admires beauty such as Norma's. Norma is also attracted to Marco, but the differences in their lives makes a romantic relationship impossible, even though Norma yearns for Marco's simple life. Returning from Castelmare, Marco and Luis hear guns in the background, signalling the beginning of a war. While Norma, Basil and his associate, Andre, try to drive out of the war zone, Marco emotionally urges his neighbors to fight for their land rather than give it up. They take his advice and resist, and as a reward for his bravery in organizing the fight, Marco is made a lieutenant in the army of resistance. Some time later, in a tavern, Marco encounters Basil dressed as a peasant, but wearing expensive shoes, and is suspicious, unaware that he is Norma's father. Basil is a secret agent, and when Marco follows him home, Basil shoots at him, but is killed by Marco in self-defense. When Norma returns home, she is shocked that Marco has killed her father and doesn't believe that Marco will help her at her interrogation. During an air raid, Marco takes her to shelter and they are trapped until Luis digs them out the next morning. Norma then disappears until Andre finds her at the headquarters of General Vallejo, who lets her go. Andre, who is working for the opposition but is friendly with Vallejo, asks her to work for him. Although she does not want to, he makes her realize that she will be killed without his protection, and if she cooperates, he will help her leave the country. He sends her back to Castelmare, and on the train she encounters Marco, who pretends that he does not care what she is doing, but warns her to be careful. On the train, Norma also meets Eddie, an English journalist who is writing about the war. Eddie is a kind man who tells Norma about the enemy blockade and its effect on the people of Castelmare. Weeks later, knowing that Castelmare is crippled by lack of food and supplies, Norma feels increasingly guilty about her part in the blockade. After Eddie walks with her through the starving city, she breaks down from the strain and runs to Marco to confess her crimes. Marco lets her go so that she can convince the others that the plans have been altered, then has their headquarters raided because he does not believe that she will help him. When he arrives, however, he finds that she was planning to help him, but is now angered by his distrust. Soon a supply ship is fired upon, and as the starving people of the town watch, the ship slowly sinks into the sea. When Vallejo arrives at Castelmare, Marco requests leniency for Norma, but she asks Vallejo only to let her help the people she has hurt. She names Andre as a spy, then discovers that Vallejo has secretly been working with Andre all along. Andre reveals that he caused Basil to be caught, and tells her that she must help him again. Just then, Marco tells Vallejo that the sunken ship was a decoy and shows Vallejo that the real supply ship is coming. By Vallejo's reaction, Marco realizes the truth about him, and after Norma grabs Andre's gun in another room and shoots him, she and Marco both become Vallejo's prisoners. As the people cheer for the real relief ship, Marco and Norma are taken to the commandant for punishment, but he believes them and has Vallejo arrested. The commandant offers Marco and Norma their freedom and the chance to find peace elsewhere, but Marco knows that they can have no peace, and knowing that the world can stop the fighting, he asks, "where's the conscience of the world?"