Thirty-something sailor Martin Eden is inspired to remake himself as a novelist following a change encounter with the sophisticated, wealthy Elena. She immediately becomes not only the object of this passionate affections, but also a symbol of the status Martin aspires to achieve. Pursuing his newfound social and literary obsessions, Martin quickly abandons his friends and working-class roots, but eventually undergoes a political awakening that triggers yet another change in hin. The film's ideas are universal and timeless: the hypocrisy of class, the disillusionment of
ideologies, the limits of romanticism and realism, and the question of what it means ultimately, to be an individual.