A father keeps his principles in rural Egypt while power seduces his son in Cairo. Mohamed is a puppeteer, a buffoon whose shows dramatize the promise of Nasser's socialist revolution. He's a widower with one son, Bahlool, whom he sends to university at great financial and emotional sacrifice. In Cairo, Bahlool becomes the protege of a corrupt pasha, marries the pasha's daughter, and sets his sights on Parliament. Meanwhile, his father falls in love with Enaam, a spirited carnival worker. He continues to pray for Bahlool, hoping to rekindle ethics and revolutionary ideals in the young man, until his son's ambitions put Enaam at risk.