In 1939, Guido, an Italian Jew, falls in love with Dora, who isn't Jewish. He woos her away from the Fascist official she has been dating, and they get married. Their son Giosue grows up among growing anti-Semitism. As the war progresses, Guido and Giosue are arrested and taken to a concentration camp. Dora goes too, determined not to separate the family. In the midst of the horrors of the camp, Guido protects his son by pretending that survival in the concentration camp is an elaborate game with which Giosue must play along or be sent home.