In a Corleone village during the 1950s, two young children Michael and Vito come to maturity and their lives take different destinies: Michael fights for the demands of the peasants and Vito, tired of poverty, joins an organization criminal who fights against the ideals of Michael. Vito’s first commission is to end the peasant movement, even if it means killing his own friend.
The events that culminated with the Passion of Christ seen from the perspective of Pontius Pilate, the Procurator of Judea who unwillingly condemned Christ to death. Based on the biblical Gospel of John.
The film surreally describes the dynamics of the acquisition of power in the various historical periods, from prehistory to consumerism in contemporary Italy, passing through the Roman Empire, the conquest of the West at the expense of the native Indians, the fascist twenty years. The various scenes are commented by three beasts, a lion, a tiger and a leopard, representing military power, economic power, and agricultural power respectively.
The film depicts a bourgeois Italian family seen through the eyes of Carlo, an old retired professor who is the last patriarch of his family. The memoirs of Carlo characterize the entire film, from the time of the Belle Époque until the 1980s, through two world wars, the economic boom, love, friendship, and all the events which constitute human life.
Necchi (a bar owner), Perozzi (a journalist), Melandri (an architect) and Mascetti (a broken nobleman) live in Florence. They have been friends since their youngest years and spend every free moment together organizing complex and terrible jokes to all the people they meet, or just wandering around Tuscany. One of these crazy trips ends up in the hospital run by military-like Professor Sassaroli. Melandri falls in love with his wife, and steals her from the husband, much to the delight of Sassaroli himself. The relationship won’t last but the Professor becomes the fifth member of the team of friends, and jokes get even more complicated and powerful.
A man walks with his son through the grass of a hill. They arrive at an old country house, where years before he had spent his childhood during the Second World War. The deserted and desolate rooms make you travel in memory of the time when the war ended. Before his eyes, episodes of family life flow: father, mother, grandmother and their six children, of whom Silvano, the youngest, was left speechless due to a bomb explosion.
A disturbed young woman is kept prisoner in a castle by her aunt for her money. The game-keeper, her guardian, tries to rape her but she escapes. In her flight she meets a man also running away, from two killers.
Towards the end of the year, in a train station, a passenger stops to chat with a peddler who is selling his almanacs and asks him an apparently simple question: “Is the forthcoming year going to be happy?” Based on a dialogue by Giacomo Leopardi.