Rural Italy, early 1900s. Two boys, Alfredo and Olmo, are born on the same day - one to the owner of a large estate, the other to one of his labourers. There is a massive divide between the classes in Italy, to the point of antagonism. Despite this, and despite some disagreements along the way, Alfredo and Olmo become best friends. We see them grow up, go to WW1 and their adult lives. Eventually their different upbringings and social standings come back to haunt them, as Italy is plunged into class war - the Socialists (workers) vs the Fascists (supported by the middle- and upper-class). Alfredo and Olmo find themselves on opposite sides.