It may seem strange today for Americans to think that some preferred the Soviet-style Communism to a home-bred version—often presented as a milder Communism than the Stalin authoritarian rule—but as we know strong dictatorial-run governments, such as Albania and Romania, were often more autocratically run and punishing of its citizens than that those directed from the more-distant Moscow. The movie begins, indeed, with a local farmer singing a song in Spanish since, he argues, it’s “safer.” Even then, he is later arrested for having Soviet Communist material in his home.
At home things seem quite placid, with a large extended family and friends gathering round the table to celebrate the traveling salesman father’s return home. The food seems bounteous, the conversation joyful, as the scene is played out in a sense of familial pleasure. But gradually women rise, one to read a secretly passed letter from a soldier-lover, another unhappy neighbor entering the bathroom to sneak a drink from her hidden liquor flask. We already know that the beloved father is a sexual philanderer. Things are clearly not as they seem.