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We the Living (1942)
"Noi vivi" (original title)

7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 140 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 1 critic

Doomed love within a corrupt political world. At 18, the beautiful and smart Kira comes to Petersburg as the Communists consolidate power. She rebuffs a cousin who rises in the Party and ... See full summary »

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Title: We the Living (1942)

We the Living (1942) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Fosco Giachetti ...
...
Emilio Cigoli ...
Giovanni Grasso ...
Annibale Betrone ...
Elvira Betrone ...
Sennuccio Benelli ...
Cesarina Gheraldi ...
Silvia Manto ...
Gioia Collei ...
Bianca Doria ...
Lamberto Picasso ...
Claudia Marti ...
Evelina Paoli ...
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Storyline

Doomed love within a corrupt political world. At 18, the beautiful and smart Kira comes to Petersburg as the Communists consolidate power. She rebuffs a cousin who rises in the Party and may remember the slight. She falls in love with Leo, the son of an aristocrat, who gets into political trouble and never gets out. Meanwhile, a Party leader, Andrei, also loves her, and she feigns love for him to get political protection for Leo and money to pay for his TB treatment. But can Leo forgive her being Andrei's mistress? Subplots dramatize Party corruption, the disillusion of those who fought hardest in the revolution, and reflections on the man's individual nature. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

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Details

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Release Date:

20 October 1942 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Almas Pecadoras  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is based on the novel "We the living" by Russian-born author Ayn Rand. When director Gofferdo Alessandrini read the book, he immediately thought it would make an excellent screen epic, but Italy was at war with the United States and acquiring rights to the novel would be a major obstacle. Taking advantage of the laisser-faire policy of the time, Alessandrini and screenwriter Anton Majano simply decided to use the novel and base their screenplay on it. Whilst he was working on another film (Nozze di sangue), Scalera Film, the production company, asked several other writers to rewrite scenes and alter the dialogue from the existing screenplay, but the final draft ended up being so different from the screenplay produced by Alessandrini and Majano that they both decided to start shooting without a script and just follow the book. The pair wrote scenes at night and handed them to the actors in the morning. As weeks went by, it soon became clear to them that it would take longer than the customary three weeks of shooting to finish this film. They also realised that there was enough material for two films, but they chose not to share this information with the actors for fear they would demand to be paid double. Despite the fact that Rand's book is an overt criticism of the communist regime and ideology, the fascist Ministry of Culture soon became aware that Alessandrini was also using the film as a platform to criticise the Mussolini government. The shooting was interrupted several times by fascist officials who demanded to see the rushes, but Alessandrini had two edited copies of the film: one that would be in line with the fascist ideology and another one which reflected his own vision of the story. In September 1942, after nearly five months of shooting, the film was completed and presented at the Venice Film Festival where it was awarded the Volpi Cup. It went on general release in November of the same year as two separate films, "Noi Vivi" and "Addio Kira!" and proved to be a resounding success with the Italian public who regarded it as an indirect indictment of the Mussolini regime. But the authorities soon got wind of this and the film was banned after five months, all copies seized and ordered to be destroyed but fortunately one negative was kept and hidden. After the war, Scalera Film approached Ayn Rand to secure the literary rights to the film so it could be re-released but she refused. A few years later, Scalera Films went into receivership and as part of the inventory of Scalera films, both "Noi Vivi" and "Addio Kira!" were turned over to a holding company, which relegated them to a vault where they remained for over twenty-five years. It was not until the late 1960's that Ayn Rand was able to locate the original nitrate negatives, still in good condition in the vault in Rome. Both films were restored, combined into one, and released (with English subtitles) in 1986 as "We the Living" at the Telluride Film festival in Colorado where it received rave reviews, over forty years after its original release. See more »

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Featured in Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

 
WE THE LIVING (Goffredo Alessandrini, 1942) ***1/2
28 April 2006 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

I haven't watched that many Italian films made prior to the neo-realist movement but I knew of this film from "Leonard Maltin's Film Guide", so I taped it when shown on late-night TV some years ago. Though it had lain in my "VHS To Watch" pile since that time, I decided to give it a whirl now as a tribute to its leading lady Alida Valli - who died only last week!

The film's history is as convoluted as that of its narrative, which is close to 3 hours in length: the story takes place in Russia and the plot (an unauthorized adaptation of the Ayn Rand novel) naturally dealt with Communism; being a wartime production (if still handsomely mounted), it was deemed to be critical of the Fascist regime and subsequently banned! Only in 1986 was the film restored to its current form - and distributed in the U.S. to considerable success - but, unfortunately, the source print wasn't perfect (with the result that the video version suffers from some distracting fuzziness, particularly towards the end)...

Despite its epic scope, the film is decidedly talky and necessarily heavy-going in nature; but the acting (featuring perhaps romantic idol Rossano Brazzi's finest performance) is terrific and, as a whole, the narrative anticipates another troubled wartime epic - Marcel Carne''s masterpiece CHILDREN OF PARADISE (1945), particularly in the way Valli is pursued by a number of suitors throughout the film but ends up alone by the end of it.

The only other film by director Goffredo Alessandrini I've watched is ABUNA MESSIAS (1939), another historical piece but - ironically enough

  • a propagandist one! In the end, with all the celebrated classics that


have emerged from Italy along the years by any number of influential auteurs, WE THE LIVING remains - with good reason - an important film and, undeniably, one of the most impressive (if largely unsung) ever made in that country.


3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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