In 1594 Brazil rival French and Portuguese settlers are utilizing the indigenous people as allies in their struggle to establish control. The Tupinambás, who live in the Guanabara Bay area, are allied with the French, while the Tupiniquins are allied with the Portuguese.
A Frenchman who has been captured by the Portuguese is then captured by the Tupinambás after they attack and kill a group of Portuguese. He tries to convince his captors by speaking in French (reciting the poem by Étienne Jodelle found in André Thévet’s Singularities of France Antarctique) but the Tupinambás don’t believe that the Frenchman was a prisoner of the Portuguese they have killed, and the Chief thinks he is Portuguese because “No Frenchman would shoot at the Tupinambá.” The tribe’s shaman predicted they would find a strong Portuguese man to cannibalize as revenge for the chief’s brother being killed by a Portuguese musket ball. Now they have one.
However, the Frenchman is allowed free run of the village area, is eventually provided with a “wife,” and adopts traditional Tupinambá attire in place of his Western clothes.
Another Frenchman comes to the village and tells the Tupinambás that their prisoner is indeed Portuguese—he then promises the outraged Frenchman that he will tell the Tupinambás the truth when the Frenchman finds a hidden treasure that another European has hidden in the area.
The relationship between the Frenchman and his Tupinambá “wife” remains enigmatic. It is unclear for most of the movie if she intends to save him from the group that wants to eat him, or if she has been assigned to win his trust and prevent him from escaping.
After using cannon powder provided by the Frenchman to defeat the Tupiniquins in battle, the Tupinambás eat the Frenchman as celebration.
In the last seconds of his life the Frenchman refuses to play along with the ceremonial script that the Tupinambás expect him to follow and instead angrily (and loudly) tells the Tupinambás that his death will not revitalize them (as his death and the subsequent cannibal feast is intended to do) but rather will doom them all to extermination.
The movie ends with a postscript that reveals that the Tupinambás were exterminated within a relatively short period of time after they killed and ate the “tasty” Frenchman.