One man's fight against organized crime proves to have devastating consequences for himself and his loved ones in this drama from Italy. As a young man, Placido Rizzotto (Marcello Mazzarella) saw his father imprisoned by police for a crime he didn't commit, and as a teenager he had to contend with the brutal excesses of Mussolini's soldiers while fighting in World War II. These events have left Placido with little taste for petty tyranny and with a desire to promote social justice. Upon his return home from the war, Placido becomes increasingly aware that organized crime has taken hold of his village, and he becomes angry and frustrated as he sees Mafia leaders controlling local politics and taking whatever land or property they want. Placido helps to form a trade union as a challenge to the Mafia's authority, and attempts to organize the villagers into a collective to grow crops in the fields taken by gangsters from the people. Lia (Gioia Spaziani), Placido's girlfriend, admires his bravery, but doesn't believe he's aware of the danger he's put himself in as she urges him to stop his crusade against the crime families. Placido, however, becomes all too aware of how badly Lo Sciancato (Vincenzo Albanese), a local crime kingpin, wants to hurt him when he sends a handful of his goons to brutally beat and gang-rape Lia. Placido Rizzotto was based on a true story and features newsreel footage of some of the real-life figures who appear as characters in this film.
~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide