Synopsis

An orphan is born on a cruise ship in 1900, and left in a lemon crate in the ballroom. The baby is raised by a machinist on the ship, Danny Boodman, who hides him in the great ship's belly. The boy becomes known simply as 1900. Knowing nothing of the world beyond the coal room and his porthole view of the sea, 1900 is devastated when his 'adopted father' is fatally wounded in a terrible ship accident. Following Danny's death, 1900 evades the captain's attempts to send him ashore to an orphanage. 1900 saves himself when he wanders into first class and finds a shipboard piano -- discovering he is a prodigy who can naturally play glorious, soulful music. He begins playing for the passengers, both rich upstairs and poor below decks. When he grows up, 1900 falls for a New York girl, but has never been on land in his life, and so is too fearful to follow her. His life is lived entirely on board the ship -- eventually, 1900 fades into obscurity -- only a rare recording proves his existence.