Based on the historical events the movie tells the story of a riot at the battleship Potemkin. What started as a protest strike when the crew was given rotten meat for dinner ended in a riot. The sailors raised the red flag and tried to ignite the revolution in their home port Odessa.
The movie revolves around an uprising on board the Battleship Potemkin (Bronenoset Potemkin) in 1905. Conditions on the ship are unbearable, which in turn incites revolutionary fervor among the sailors, most notably within the character of Vakulinchik. After the ship's doctor declares rancid meat safe to eat, the sailors buy provisions at the canteen in a show of protest. The Admiral then orders all those who ate the borsch made with the meat to step under the cannons in a show of loyalty. Those who do not are covered under a tarp and ordered shot. Vakulinchik then implores his shipmates to rise up against those who oppress them, namely the officers of the ship. All the officers are killed and the ship is liberated. During the uprising, Vakulinchik dies. His body his placed on the docks in the Odessa harbor as a symbol of the revolution. The citizens of Odessa rally around his body and join the Potemkin in their revolt. Cossaks then come, in one of the most famous scenes of the film, and slaughter the helpless citizens on the steps leading to the harbor, effectively ending the revolt in Odessa. A fleet of battleships then comes to destroy the Potemkin...