Not long before World War I, in a French Alpine town near the Italian border, a pack of slaughtered wolves is delivered to local taxidermist Leon (Patrick Chesnais). A surviving black cub comes down from the mountains looking for his family, and is saved from discovery and certain death by Leon’s young daughter Angele, who releases him back into the wild. The Great War comes and goes, making local foundry owners the Garcins rich. Family patriarch Albert Garcin (Michel Galabru), who happens to be Angele’s godfather, has given a free lifetime’s lease of a shack in the hills to a gypsy woman (played in flashbacks by Elisa Tovati in which she’s seen, literally, having dances with wolves on stage). Her son Guiseppe (Stefano Accorsi), who appears to be slightly mentally handicapped, guards the wolves he’s befriended up there, especially the black pack leader he calls Carbone.