This poignant film is a powerful portrait of humanity seen through the life of a donkey. The animal is first the loving plaything of small children in rural France, then a working beast of burden named by a sullen child. As the girl grows up, the donkey's fortunes worsen with the young
woman's when she is gang-raped and dies. Her sadistic lover, a leader of a motorcycle gang, tortures the donkey by setting its tail on fire. The donkey's life intersects with the lives of many of its other owners, as well. A brutal farmer owns the animal and beats it, but is finished off in grim
irony. Then the donkey has a respite in becoming a momentary circus star, but then again ...