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Diamantina Mountains, Brazil, 1821. A slave trader, ANTONIO, returns to the decadent, but imposing farmhouse he inherited to discover his wife has died in child birth. Confined to this desolate property in the company of his demented mother-in-law and numerous slaves, he marries his dead wife's niece, BEATRIZ, a child of 12. A restless soul, he returns to his trading expeditions, and leaves his child wife behind. The loneliness of the big house in the rugged landscape mirrors that of its inhabitants. Each one has been displaced from his original home and forced into co-existence. The undercurrents of violence and prejudice, which still plague the Brazil of today, accelerate the inevitable tragedy which, in turn, heralds the tides of change.