14 year-old Olof (Axberg) leaves his dirt-poor, rural home in northern Sweden to earn his living. He finds menial labor as a log driver and then at a sawmill. Olof tours the country with a moving cinema show, and has an affair with Olivia (Sjöblom), an older carnival worker. As far-off WWI rages and the Russian Revolution looms, Olof experiences a political awakening and his future begins to take shape.
Drawn from Eyvind Johnson’s Nobel prize-winning, autobiographical novel, director Jan Troell’s first feature projects a documentary-like realism. Troell (who also co-wrote, shot and edited the film) finds natural beauty in the countryside and in the toil of its laborers. Axberg gives an affecting performance as young Olof, who matures considerably as the story progresses. This atmospheric coming-of-age tale marked the arrival of an important new filmmaker.