Events in the 18th century are the concern of the Devil, who tries to maintain the balance of power between the Church and himself. The murder of the Russian Tsar, which will lead to Catherine the Great taking the thro...展开ne, is not acceptable to the Devil, and he sends a minion of his, who is a double for the murdered ruler, to take his place. However, the double falls in love and eventually refuses to take the throne, which requires the Devil to have him killed also.
After the murder of the Russian Emperor Peter III, who was succeeded by Empress Catherine, Satan decides that the balance between good and evil on Earth has been destabilized. In order to set things right, he sends his representative to Earth - the teacher Farfa, who bears an unusual resemblance to Peter III. His mission is to seize power from the old Duke of Montenegro, and then to take back the Russian throne as Peter III. The people of Montenegro accept Farfa as their new leader, and he proclaims himself the new Emperor, Scepan Mali, successfully resisting an invasion by the Turks. Farfa is touched by the Montenegrins' kindness and courage, falls in love with the beautiful Elfa, and fails to follow Satan's plan. Not one to be crossed, Satan sets out to kill him.
Specializing in epic war films, Veljko Bulajic ranked among the former Yugoslavia's most popular filmmakers of the '60s and '70s; at his peak he received privileges denied other directors by Tito's regime, making him the object of considerable hatred amongst his colleagues. Bulajic's two most internationally popular films were the war spectaculars Kozara (1962) and Bitka na Neretvi/Battle on the River Neretva (1969); the latter featured an international cast and earned Bulajic an Oscar nomination. Bulajic began his career in the 1940s as a journalist and director of short Yugoslavian documentaries. During the 1950s, Bulajic enrolled in Rome's Centro Sperimentale film school, and afterward assisted several renowned Italian directors, including Federico Fellini and Vittorio De Sica. He returned to Yugoslavia in 1958 and made his feature directorial debut with Vlak Bez Voznog Reda/Train Without a Timetable (1959), which won him international acclaim. His 1963 documentary Skopje won many awards and established Bulajic as a prominent filmmaker. His popularity came to an abrupt end in 1983 when his epic Veliki Transport/Great Transport proved to be a critical and box-office failure. The film nearly destroyed Bulajic financially, and he subsequently spent many years in court involved in numerous public scandals.