DURING THE NIGHT OF A TERRIBLE STORM
While a terrible storm rages over his Mattisburg fortress, Ronja, the daughter of the robber chief Mattis, is born. His rough band of robbers are enchanted by this delicate child, yet they are shocked when the fortress is split in two by a powerful lightning strike. Mattis becomes extremely angry and is so enraged that Ronja starts crying. However, her mother Lovis is able to comfort her by singing the Song of the Wolf.
SOME YEARS LATER
Ronja dances and romps with the bandits in the fortress. Mattis is fascinated by his wonderful daughter, he only gets angry when asked about Borka. Old Bald Pete tells Ronja that Borka is her father’s great enemy. The gorge which separates the Mattis forest from the Borka forest has been the scene of fierce battles for centuries.
Ronja is now old enough to leave the castle and explore the forest. Mattis warns her of the dangers of the forest and Lovis passes on the advice that you’re safest in the Mattis forest if you’re not afraid.
WITH THE GOBLINS
Ronja is amazed by the forest, its smells, its sunlight. She is startled by the sudden cry of a wild elf and her foot treads in the burrow of a family of goblins. As the elves approach, threatening Ronja, the goblins start making a cradle out of her foot for their baby goblin. In the nick of time Birk Borkasohn appears and frees her. Ronja is grateful but horrified that that one of Borka’s gang is at large in her forest and also claims that his tribe have moved into the northern fort. Nevertheless Ronja helps Birk to find his way home out of the forest.
IN THE MATTISBURG FORTRESS
Mattis and Bald Pete tell Ronja what a robber’s job is and that one day she too will become a robber chief. While this is going on, Birk is led into the hallways of the fortress by Mattis’s robbers. Birk tells Mattis that his tribe have recently taken up occupation of the northern fortress. Mattis has an attack of rage at this news and hatches a plan to hide Birk in the dungeon and only give him back to Borka after he has moved out of the northern fortress. Ronja is horrified and decides she will never become a robber. When Mattis gets angry that Lovis wants to treat the injured Birk, Lovis throws all the robbers out of the fortress and comforts Ronja with the Song of the Wolf.
AT THE GORGE
On either side of the gorge two angry robber bands face off ready to fight. Borka wants his son back but Mattis will not give in and blackmails him. While the two men argue, Ronja jumps across the gorge to Borka’s robbers. Borka grabs hold of the robber’s daughter and proposes an exchange to Mattis: “You’ll get your child back when you give me mine.” Mattis is outraged, he says he no longer has a child and retreats to his fortress in disappointment.
IN THE SPRING FOREST
Ronja and Birk have decided to abandon their families and live together in the forest from now on. They are now best friends and enjoy the spring days together. But Ronja misses her family and is sad that her father will no longer talk to her. To console herself and Birk she sings the Song of the Wolf. After this, the forest transforms into a magical summer idyll.
IN THE AUTUMN FOREST
Now it has turned cold and Ronja and Birk are afraid of the coming winter. Birk blames Ronja for losing the knife which they need to be able to survive. Ronja is annoyed and sends him away. Alone in the forest, she notices the voices of some underground creatures and follows them in the fog. Meanwhile Mattis has set off to apologize to Ronja. Mattis and Birk find Ronja and save her from the underground creatures. The three of them are reconciled and Mattis invites them both to come with him to his fortress.
RETURN TO MATTIS’S FORTRESS
Ronja is welcomed joyfully by her robber family but old Bald Pete is on his death bed. He advises Mattis to join forces with Borka and fight a duel to decide who will lead the united band of robbers. Bald Pete dies and the robbers take their leave of him.
THE BIG FIGHT
Mattis wins the fight against Borka but suggests to him that they both fight together as equals against the soldiers. The robber bands are reconciled and dance together. However, neither Ronja nor Birk wishes to succeed their fathers. They are sure that they can live another life if they stick together. In the end the parents realise that they have to accept the will of their children.