1812. On the eve of the invasion of Russia, half-French, half-English Matthieu Carrey finds himself in the ranks of Napoleon's 500,000 strong army. With Tsar Alexander seemingly ill-prepared, a French victory seems certain. Carrey's purpose is less clear. Blackmailed into becoming a spy in the emperor's army, he hopes to follow his lover, a French actress who has gone to work in the Moscow theatre. But the march is perilous, and alongside the Russian infantry, orders from both the French and English are putting Carrey in constant danger. Eventually the army reaches Moscow. The French army feast and make merry in the abandoned city. Carrey embarks on a frantic search for his actress, but after a month, the order is given to withdraw. Temperatures are plummeting, and the Russians are circling. To reach the French border seems utterly impossible.