Abe Snopes (Tommy Lee Jones) is a tenant farmer whose violent nature proves to be his undoing in this movie adaptation (with screenplay by Horton Foote) of one of author William Faulkner's Gothic tales. Snopes sets fire to his employer's barn when he thinks he's been treated unfairly. Snopes's family is told to move on -- which leads to a troubling dilemma for the old man's son, Sarty, who yearns to liberate himself from all the strife.

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