In a village in northern Vietnam 200 years ago, a young woman is tried for getting pregnant out of wedlock. When she refuses to speak, the village elders order that her head be shaved and her baby set adrift on the river. Just as the baby is about to be sent to its fate, a fierce thunder storm breaks out and kills many people. In the chaos, three itinerant carpenters save the child, but the mother is jailed out of fear. Years later, the boy wanders through the countryside seeking traces of his mother's life.