In the 18th-century, Zama, an officer of the Spanish Crown born in South America, is stagnating in his town and eagerly anticipating a letter from the king granting him a transfer to a better place . He must ensure that nothing overshadows his transfer, so he feels forced to submissively accept every task entrusted to him by successive governors who come and go as he stays behind. But the years pass and the letter from the king never arrives. When Zama notices everything is lost, he joins a party of soldiers that go after a dangerous bandit.