A soldier arrives at the location of the military fortress, which no longer performs defensive functions, but the garrison continues to give its idleness meaning, imitating a stormy activity in total compliance with the rules, nagging, trying to find a reason to move to the "mainland", as well as remembering the past. The plot of the novel in the film is simple: in The Tartar Steppe novel the militaries are waiting for the attack of some Tartarian hordes and all the time they are preparing for it, but nothing happens.
The most vivid metaphor in the film, reflecting the senseless swarming and affairs of garrison and the groundlessness of its expectations and defenses, is the replica with insects.Working ants, as disciplined as soldiers, mirror the life of the military post. . A slow centipede crawls through the screen to the panicked and sharp shouts of the commander that the enemy is coming to the fortress' gates.
Not professional actors, but prisoners of the Civitavecchia gaol took part in the movie shooting. It is noteworthy that the directors focus not so much on the mimicking part of the acting, but on the dialogues. Their richness makes us perceive the film as play, except it has audio-visual and expressive means. The frames and mise en scene are arranged like geometric shapes and use all the existing methods of constructing the composition. Fortezza — even though it has its atmosphere – is like an inside-out mockumentary. This is also present in the cameraman's tricks — a shaking hand-held camera and unexpected defocusing, in non-professional actors, in a narrative that captures the everyday life and reality of the fortress rather than a twisted plot.