In the Asiago Plateau, after the Second World War, young Gianni returns to his hometown from the Italian campaign in Russia and looks for a job.
After a brief stint in an illegal sawmill and with his brother Francesco left for Australia in search of work, Gianni meets old Du (inspired by Vu's character Albino Celi from Valstagna) one evening while he is visibly drunk and starts talking gibberish. Among other things, he explains to Gianni how he makes a living by salvaging metal war remnants from the Great War in the mountains of the Altipiano and reselling them in order to survive.
At first, Gianni thinks that Du is just a crazy man talking nonsense, but he slowly realises that the old man has a point and that this activity could allow him to earn enough to marry his girlfriend.
Later, Gianni decides to use his military severance pay to buy a metal detector, which, with Du's help, allows him to discover larger quantities of war material.
The life of the salvagers continues with new prices and a few tragic accidents. However, Gianni begins to fear for his life because of the danger of the work and decides to follow his girlfriend's advice: to seek a less risky job, such as that of a labourer.
The film ends with old Du joking with Gianni and scolding him for abandoning him, but Gianni remains firm in his decision to take a less dangerous job as a labourer.