Amnesic and devastated by the recent death of his parents, a successful Russian-American conductor tries to come to terms with his dark past, his roots and himself, through a literal and spiritual return home to the mystical slopes of the Russian Altai.
Standing by his fiancé ~ the gorgeous and dedicated operating-room nurse ANASTASIA ~ at the funeral for his recently deceased parents in New York, a talented but brooding maestro, SERGEI NIKITIN, abruptly turns in despair and walks away in the cold and icy rain. The following evening, after conducting a performance of Handel’s Messiah, he is approached on stage by a beautiful woman in white, VERONIKA, his erstwhile love and former wife. While amnesia from a prior head injury continues to dog his memory, the apparition forces itself upon him, begging his return to Altai. Anastasia looks on curiously: ‘Is Sergei talking to himself,’ she wonders? Shortly thereafter he is visited again by this phantom beauty while at home in his study. And again comes the same request to come back to Altai. Over dinner that evening, Sergei announces his decision to return to Russia for a visit with his aging grandparents. In fact, he will depart the next week, prior to their upcoming wedding. A distraught Anastasia begrudgingly succumbs to his wishes.
Sergei arrives at his grandparents primitive cottage resting aside the mighty Ob River in a small forested Western Siberian village. There he is greeted by his kindly and wizened GRANDPA SASHA with news of BABA ANNA’S grave condition. In passing, Sasha remarks about the magical GRIFFIN amulet that Sergei still wears around his neck, a gift from his dying granny. Spotting an old photo of himself with Veronika on the dresser in the cabin, Sergei has a flash of memory, demanding that Sasha tell what had happened to his former love. Unable to glean any details of that darkened episode of his past, Sergei is determined to head up into the Altai Mountains to the old resort in search of some answers, where he and Veronika had once shared a life together.
On his way up a wet and precipitous mountain pass, Sergei losses control of his rental car, crashing head first into a ravine. Climbing out of the wreckage, he walks away from yet another seeming head-trauma, and continues on foot the remainder of the way to the resort, his old home. Entering the apparently abandoned house, our tragic hero finds his former love, the vivacious violinist Veronika, stretched-out naked on their bed waiting for him. It is the selfsame vision of purity he had seen back in New York over the previous weeks.
Their reunion, and the many bouts of lovemaking that follow, is interrupted by assorted reminiscences and recollections. What now transpires is a series of vignettes, flashbacks, or perhaps near-death hallucinations, as we journey through the obscure recesses of Sergei’s amnesiac mind. Here we find the darkest and most tragic moments of his lost and repressed memories, revealing a life punctuated by myth, love, and death. We are witness to his simple upbringing in the Altai steppe, along with secreted violin lessons provided by his young love, Veronika. We learn about his family’s exile to America by Veronika’s father, VICTOR, as well as the subsequent marriage of the lovers after her father’s early demise. We witness multiple betrayals, and a near-death beating, at the hands of his old college mate and would-be business partner, ANDREI. Finally, we learn of the untimely death of Veronika and their young son, SASHA. Several vexing exchanges between Sergei and the old ALTAI SHAMAN, as well as a mysterious and disconcerting visit with his former PROFESSOR BRAHMS concerning ancient Altaic myth, completes this mystical tragedy. The story ends with a desperate and agitated Anastasia, now in Russia, driving at breakneck speed through the Altai Mountains, only to discover our tragic hero, her beloved and betrothed Sergei, lying helplessly unconscious and barely alive on the bed in his old abandoned home at the mountain resort.