In 1942 Goffredo Alessandrini directed an unauthorized Italian film version of Ayn Rand’s first novel, We the Living. Set during the Russian Revolution, the story has an uncompromising anti-communist message, but its characters are far more subtle, messy, and soapy than Rand’s later avatars of Objectivism.
After the war, the movie—actually two movies, Noi Vivi and Addio Kira—was trapped in legal limbo, as Rand had never given permission for its creation or distribution. But in 1986, Rand having blessed the work before her 1982 death, the two parts were assembled into a single film true to the original novel.
We the Living is now available on DVD for the first time, thanks to Duncan Scott Productions. The picture, featuring the love triangle of independent Kira, bad boy Leo, and surprisingly sympathetic Communist Party official Andrei, captures a fleeting moment when the young Rand was still in thrall to Nietzsche and in mourning for her own Leo, left behind in her flight from Russia.
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