This is the story of a young adolescent in an Italian mining community, ostensibly (or hopefully) at some time in the past. He is indentured in a traditional apprenticeship system that makes him a virtual slave to his bosses. The inferno-like conditions of sulphur mining, the sexual exploitation resulting from week-long separation of husbands from wives, and the ever-present danger of the mines combine construct a real-life allegory for the dual "open" and "subterranean" levels of human nature. Acla's boyish exuberance, sensitivity and idealism set him fundamentally at odds with his environment. Aurelio Grimaldi's excellent direction ensures you won't know the outcome until the closing credits roll. This is not an easy film to watch: I felt emotionally drained for a long time afterward. Be warned.