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The film begins in a ‘corrective labour facility’ with an evening concert given by the inmates. Those about to be released sing the ‘Bombom’ chorus in the popular ballad ‘Vechernii zvon’ (‘Evening Bells’). Among them is Egor Prokudin (Vasilii Shukshin), a career criminal. On his release his attempts to re-establish links with his former gang and girlfriend result in disappointment, and Egor travels to the village of Iasnoe (‘Clear’), where he hopes to make a fresh (and honest) start.