In July 1942, in the Second World War, the rearguard of the Russian army protects the bridgehead of the Don River against the German army while the retreating Russian troops cross the bridge. While they move back to the Russian territory through the countryside, the soldiers show their companionship, sentiments, fears and heroism to defend their motherland.
|Vasiliy Shukshin||Piotr Lopakhin|
|Vyacheslav Tikhonov||Nikolay Strel'tsov|
|Sergey Bondarchuk||Ivan Zvyagintsev|
|Georgi Burkov||pvt. Alexander Kopytovsky|
|Nonna Mordyukova||Natalya Stepanovna|
|Nikolay Volkov||pvt. Nikiforov|