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n tsarist Russia, the Volga boatmen live hard lives, trudging along the water's edge as they pull heavy cargoes up and down the river. One day, as Prince Dimitri and his fiancée Princess Vera stop to have their fortunes told at a Tartar camp along the river, they encounter a group of boatmen who are taking a short rest. One of the boatmen, the spirited Feodor, provokes a hostile confrontation with the two aristocrats. Later, when the Revolution breaks out, Feodor becomes a leader in the Red Army, and he again encounters Dimitri and Vera, only this time with much higher stakes.

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