Klimkov: The Life of a Tsarist Agent is about a young man who has the bad luck to become a Tsarist spy in St. Petersburg right on the eve of the Russian Revolution of 1905, at the very moment when the workers have the opportunity to strike back at the politically oppressive and brutal secret police.
The adaptation was based on the novel by Maxim Gorky usually translated as The Life of a Useless Man but sometimes called The Spy. Published in 1907 there is an eye-witness quality to the writing. A pivotal event in the novel is the trauma of Bloody Sunday when a huge procession of workers went to the Winter Palace to see their father, the Tsar, and ask him for a shorter working day. The women and children were to the front, and they were singing God Save the Tsar and carrying icons, confident their father, the Tsar, would be sympathetic to their suffering. They were intercepted by troops who fired on them, killing hundreds.