The saga, which unfolds over several years, kicks off in Flanders in 1568. Peasants, rebelling against Spanish rule, are sacking churches. One such gang, carrying the huge head of a statue taken from a church, stumbles onto land owned by a farmer, Nettelneck, when it's attacked by Spaniards. Only one Dutchman escapes, and after he and Nettelneck's wife make love, the result is a son, who is raised on Nettelneck's farm (for some reason dominated by a huge cesspool) but who is always an outsider. Some years later, a wandering Italian minstrel, Campanelli, who witnessed the massacre and the coupling, returns to tell the boy his father is alive and sailing at sea on his ship (though he's actually long dead); he also reveals that his father is able to fly. Later still, the boy, now a man, leaves the farm with his sweetheart, Lotte, in search of his flying father. The film paints a dark and cruel picture of medieval times, alternating between grim and crass (and gross) realism and almost pythonesque farce. People are mostly ugly, stupid and mean, everything from the farm to a grounded ship or an asylum/prison is covered in mud and excrements. An uncompromising, ambitious and probably very personal film.