Written and directed by Sergei Eisenstein, workers go on strike in a factory in Czarist Russia and demand reforms; the stockholders refuse to give in, and the strikers are eventually crushed by the police and army.
At a locomotive factory the director hears of complaints and orders them suppressed. Different men are compared to a fox, an owl, a marmoset, and bulldog. Activists meet and discuss going on strike. They stir up the people and distribute leaflets for a strike.
A worker is accused of stealing a micrometer and is fired. He is found hanged with a suicide note saying he is innocent. The workers are aroused and fight to blow the whistle and take over the old foundry. They throw stones at the windows and then head for the office. Managers keep the gates closed. An organizer tells the workers that their strike will close down the factory. They stop the machines.
All is quiet, but children play. The director receives the demands that include an 8-hour day, civil administration, a 30% increase in wages, and a 6-hour workday for minors. The stockholders meet, smoke cigars, and drink. Police on horses chase workers until they all sit down.
As the strike drags on, people suffer poverty and quarrel. Most demands are rejected, but the administration will be civil if the workers obey without question. At night police beat up a worker. The strike leaders meet and vote to continue.
Marmoset, the Owl, and the Bulldog spy for the owners and cause explosions and fires. The King and his boys go into action. Police refuse to pull the fire alarm and stop a woman who tries to do so. Workers are warned that they are being provoked and are told to go home. They march away as firemen arrive. They direct the hoses at the people, who are trapped and try to escape from the water cannons.
People read about what happened, and more police are sent to the region. When they whip a woman saving a child, a riot breaks out. Some go to the forge as mounted police chase them. A boy opens the gate. Police brutally attack them. A strike leader refuses to help the police chief and hits him. The army shoots people, and many are killed.
This propaganda film reflects the Communist perspective
on the strikes of 1912 that were brutally suppressed. The power
of organized workers is evoked while the capitalists are portrayed
as out of touch with the reality of the workers' suffering.