Determined to suppress the peasants' presumption, the local gentleman-farmers band together to thwart the success of the new land-owners. Conspiracy leads to violence, and the cycle of oppression repeats itself. The acting in this film is fierce.
Gender issues in particular are given a fiery spin as the women characters refuse the yoke of patriarchal authority. What makes the story so poignant is that the principal villain recognizes the worth of the people he destroys, but will do anything to prevent a challenge to the social order.
Ruzowitsky's film laments the loss of life and dignity through class struggle, and though the ending is forseeable, the desperate effort made by the former servants to prosper and enjoy life keeps you riveted.