At the center of the Protestant-German village of Eichwald stands the pastor (Burghart Klaussner), a puritanical zealot who has become corrupt with the ideals of righteousness. When reprimanding his own children, his punishments are both painful and humiliating, so it comes as no shock when one of his daughters kills his pet bird with a pair of scissors in an act of spiteful vengeance. But the circle of evil begetting evil is momentarily broken when the pastor’s youngest son offers his own pet bird to him as a replacement. The pastor isn’t deserving of his son’s charity or sympathy, and it’s an irony not entirely lost on him as the stoney facade of his profession melts under tear-filled eyes to reveal a gracious father underneath. For one brief moment, the innocence of childhood overcomes the corruption of adulthood, and a tiny, chirping bird bridges the gap between the two.