Shockingly modernist in its masterful displacement of time and space, for many critics Singing Behind Screens is one of the high points of Italian cinema in recent years. The work of Italian filmmaker Ermanno Olmi has gone through a number of evolutions in his 46-year career, but none as amazing as his current transfiguration into a romantic symbolist. He seems capable of creating an original film world with a few powerful strokes of his brush; or in this case, a camera sumptuously manned by his talented son Fabio Olmi. Like his previous film The Profession of Arms, this is an anti-war story. Instead of drawing on medieval history, it takes its inspiration from a Jorge Luis Borges tale about a Chinese pirate queen sailing the high seas. To this Olmi adds another story, that of a young man in what looks like a Chinese brothel circa 1930 who is watching everything take place on stage, as in an opium dream. The strange fable is narrated by an old captain (Bud Spencer). Admiral Ching, tempted to give up pirating by the Emperor's edict, has been murdered by his own capitalist backers, who have a vested interest in his activities. Surprising everyone, his widow (Jun Ichikawa) boldly takes his place at the head of his pirate fleet and takes her revenge, ravaging the coast of China. When the old emperor dies, his heir ascends to the throne and personally engages the widow Ching in a great naval battle.