The late 18th century. Zama, an officer of the Spanish Crown born in South America, waits for a letter from the King granting him a transfer from Asuncion on the Paraguay coast in which he is stagnating, to Buenos Aires. His situation is delicate. He must ensure that nothing overshadows his transfer. He is forced to accept submissively every task entrusted to him by successive Governors who come and go as he stays behind. The years go by and the letter from the King never arrives. When Zama realizes that everything is lost, he joins a party of soldiers on the hunt for a dangerous bandit.