The film follows four families, with different nationalities (French, German, Russian and American) but with the same passion for music, from the 1930s to the 1960s. The various story lines cross each other time and again in different places and times, with their own theme scores that evolve as time passes. The main event in the film is the Second World War, which throws the stories of the four musical families together and mixes their fates. Although all characters are fictional, many of them are loosely based on historical musical icons (Édith Piaf, Josephine Baker, Herbert von Karajan, Glenn Miller, Rudolf Nureyev, etc.) The Boléro dance sequence at the end brings all the threads together.
Robert Hossein, Nicole Garcia, Geraldine Chaplin, Daniel Olbrychski, Jorge Donn, Rita Poelvoorde, Macha Méril, Évelyne Bouix, Francis Huster, Raymond Pellegrin, Paul Préboist, Jean-Claude Brialy, Marthe Villalonga, Fanny Ardant, Jean-Claude Bouttier, Richard Bohringer, Nicole Croisille, Ginette Garcin, Jean-Pierre Kalfon, Geneviève Mnich, Alexandra Stewart, Éva Darlan, Manuel Gélin, Candice Patou, Maïa Simon, James Caan, Sarah Abrell, Féodor Atkine, Mireille Audibert, Jean-Claude Bourbault, Christophe Bourseiller, Jean-Pierre Castaldi, Anne Caudry, Louise Chevalier, Véronique Coquet, Thérèse Crémieux, Katalin Csarny, Dan Daes, Nicole Daresco, Andrée Delair, Linda Dingwall, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Maxime Dufeu, Andy Fenwick, Farmer Fuller, Ernie Garrett, Charles Gérard, Evelyne Hue, Gérard Ismaël, Philippe Jacques, Lyle Joyce, Jacques Villeret, Sharon Stone, Valérie Quennessen