Film is based on the book "Early Joys", set in 1910 in the city of Saratov on the river Volga in Central Russia. The main characters are Kirill Izvekov and Lisa, his first love. She does not respond to Kirill Izvekov, and her behavior is hurting his feelings. So the young intellectual Kirill Izvekov becomes disillusioned with the world around him. He is strongly disapproving of the oppressive regime of the Tzar. By an unfortunate chance he becomes falsely accused of participation in the popular uprising and spends a year in prison. After that he matures into a professional revolutionary.