Vic and Melinda Van Allen are a couple in the small town of Little Wesley. Their loveless marriage is held together only by a precarious arrangement whereby, in order to avoid the messiness of divorce, Melinda is allowed to take any number of lovers as long as she does not desert her family.
Les inconnus de la terre starts like a traditional feature film: in the beginning of the film all the leading roles are given a short introduction. This is followed by a number of interviews, in which the makers unashamedly appear themselves. They include an interview with a lonely shepherd and one with three unmarried brothers who try to run the parental farm for better or worse. Notwithstanding the fact that this mode of interviewing has now become classical, les inconnus de la terre works rather refreshingly. The film is more than just an enumeration of problems. In an honest way it shows the ties of those involved to the land and to nature, in addition to being a plea for the modernization of French agriculture.