Set in rural 19th-century Russia, Andrzej Wajda's adaptation of Nikolai Leskov's LADY MACBETH OF THE MTENSK DISTRICT stars Olivera Markovic as Katerina Izmaylov, the restless wife of a wealthy merchant. Katerina, bored with life and despondent over her inability to bear a child, begins an affair with a rakish swineherd, Sergei (Ljuba Tadic), when her husband goes away on business. Her father-in-law, Boris (Bohan Stupica), discovers what's going on and has Sergei flogged almost to the point of death, prompting an enraged Katerina to poison the old man in revenge. The lovers enjoy a brief respite until Katerina's husband, Zinovi (Miodrag Lazarevic), returns from his journey. Katerina tries to convince Sergei to help her get rid of him as well--and this is far from the last of her nefarious plans. Wajda, who made the film in Yugoslavia during a self-imposed exile from Poland, employs a minimum of exterior scenes and strips down the sets of his interiors, allowing his Yugoslavian cast to fully and directly communicate the stark Shakespearean drama of the tale. The key performance of Markovic as the dominating heroine is one of undeniable power.
A woman in Czarist Russia takes a young farm hand as her lover while her husband is away on business. When their tryst is discovered by her father-in-law, she poisons him, and a passion for scheming and murder is awakened.