1565. Ivan the Terrible, tsar of Russia, suffers a defeat in the long war that opposed him and Poland. He creates a personal guard, recognisable by a dog’s head attached to their saddles. The Tsar’s dogs plunge Russia in a blood bath. Alarmed, the Metropolit – the chief of the Russian Church – takes refuge in a monastery. Ivan the Terrible believes he sees the sign of the Last Judgement getting closer and therefore sends for Filipp, his childhood friend, the superior of the Solovki Islands monastery.