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We the Living (1986)

 |  Adventure, Drama, Romance  |  1942 (Italy)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 141 users  
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The time is the Russian Revolution. The place is a country burdened with fear - the midnight knock at the door, the bread hidden against famine, the haunted eyes of the fleeing, the ... See full summary »

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Cast

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

The time is the Russian Revolution. The place is a country burdened with fear - the midnight knock at the door, the bread hidden against famine, the haunted eyes of the fleeing, the grublike fat of the appeasers and oppressors. In a bitter struggle of the individual against the collective, three people stand forth with the mark of the unconquered in their bearing: Kira, who wants to be a builder, and the two men who love her - Leo, an aristocrat, and Andrei, a Communist. In their tensely dramatic story, Ayn Rand shows what the theories of Communism mean in practice. We the Living is not a story of politics but of the men and women who have to struggle for existence behind the Red banners and slogans. It is a picture of what dictatorship - of any kind - does to human beings, what kind of men are able to survive, and which of them remain as the ultimate winners. What happens to the defiant ones? What happens to those who succumb? Who are the winners in this conflict? Against a vivid ... Written by The Publisher of "We the Living"

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The 1942 Film Classic Starring Alida Valli, Rossano Brazzi, and Fosco Giachetti


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1942 (Italy)  »

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Ayn Rand's We the Living  »

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Trivia

The films We the Living (1942) and Addio Kira! (1942) were produced in 1942 in Italy ("Addio Kira" is part two of the story that begins in "Noi Vivi"). The films were made without the authorization, input, involvement, or, in fact, knowledge, of Ayn Rand author of the underlying work, "We The Living". Because of the war and the fact that Rand was an American, the producers, Scalera Films, made no attempt to secure the underlying literary rights. In these films, the original story was severely corrupted due to addition of several gratuitous propaganda scenes ordered by the fascist party (they controlled all filmmaking in Italy at that time). After the war, Scalera attempted to get the underlying rights from Rand and was refused. Because of this "Noi Vivi" and "Addio Kira" were not and cannot be legally distributed (Rand eventually received wartime reparations from the government of Italy for the theft of her property). Many years later, the negatives of the two existing films were purchased by American filmmakers. Rand granted literary rights and authorized a new film version of "We The Living" to be created out the films on the condition that several significant changes were made. Most importantly, she wanted the propaganda scenes removed and the story to be told in a single film. Because of this, "We The Living", released in 1986, is significantly different from the two unauthorized films. The offending scenes and several subplots of the story have been removed. Running time is now a full hour less than the total of the two films. See more »

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User Reviews

 
A political love story
29 March 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Ayn Rand's novel, We the Living, was made into 2 films by an Italian company and released in 1942. They made these films without the consent of the author. Nevertheless, the resulting films were rather well done, except for the fact that dialogue and plot were added that were a) more acceptable to the fascist government in power and b) antithetical to Rand's beliefs and the nature of the characters. Thus, when Rand was asked for her permission to re-release the films decades later, she agreed with the stipulation that the offending sections be excised. After all, the actions and motivations of the characters were contradictory with the added lines. (Example: it does not make sense for a character to condemn the principles of a free market economy when he is rebelling against a socialist economy).

Rand was mostly pleased with the Italian product and the actors' performances, so she was pleased to have the films--which were combined into one film--modified and released. Besides being a great novelist, she started her writing career as a screenwriter in Hollywood. Her understanding of plot and character development are second to no one's.

The story itself is a complex love story, a triangle between the heroine and the two relationships she had with two men--one who was a member of the ruling communist party, and one whose father was a member of the overthrown aristocracy. Both men are victims of their times in that they see aristocracy and communism as the only two alternatives. The first man learns the realities of compromising his values due to practicalities within the party and the social/political structure. The second suffers for his values but eventually learns to compromise them (they were not so strong to begin with) to survive in the corrupt society of the USSR.

Without the exposition of Rand's novel, the political messages of the story are probably difficult to discern, other than the "I" vs "The State" basics.

One writer criticized Rand for wanting to bring the film closer to her original vision, as if those who stole her work had a right to their artistic vision. I guess you could say that the fascist authorities also had a right to their vision, but obviously whatever rights they had to their own beliefs gave them no rights when it comes to amending Rand's work. The original Italian films would, no doubt be interesting, but mostly as examples of propaganda and for historical purposes.


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