Texas, 1872. With the Civil War over, exploration has resumed in the territories to the west of the Mississippi, and geologist Stingley is looking to capitalise. Together with photographer Oscar Forrest, who catalogues the terrain, and their young assistant Milton, Stingley strikes out into territory that might one day support a new civilisation.
But this is no virgin land. As the frontiersmen move west, it becomes clear that the expedition won't go unchallenged. Stingley has led them into a hostile region: the native Comanches' last bastion of resistance. In a spectacular landscape, under the looming threat of attack, the boundaries between the civilised and natural worlds dissolve. As social conventions disappear and personal inhibitions go into retreat, an intimate relationship develops between Oscar and Milton.
An intense Western, The Smell of Starving Boys explores the clash between two worlds: one defined by rationality and technology, the other by shamanism and nature.