When the Austro-Hungarian Empire disintegrated after World War I, control of the Adriatic port of Fiume was hotly disputed. Enter 'Pirate King' Gabriele d'Annunzio, an Italian poet who stormed the city with 3,000 Italian nationalists. D'Annunzio declared Fiume a free republic and himself commander. He envisioned a utopian city-state, but Fiume quickly became a surreal center of violence, looting, and decadence, with shades of the Fascist movement to come. This true event serves as a backdrop to the tragic love story of a beautiful torch singer and a young soldier haunted by the horrors of trench warfare.