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Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life (1997)

A documentary focusing on the life of novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, the author of the bestselling novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and originator of the Objectivist philosophy.




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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Narrator (voice)
Michael S. Berliner ...
Himself - Editor of Rand's Letters (as Dr. Michael S. Berliner)
Harry Binswanger ...
Himself - Professor and Friend (as Dr. Harry Binswanger)
Sylvia Bokor ...
Herself - Artist
Daniel E. Greene ...
Himself - Artist
Cynthia Peikoff ...
Herself - Friend and Secretary
Leonard Peikoff ...
Himself - Intellectual Heir and Friend (as Dr. Leonard Peikoff)
Al Ramrus ...
Himself - Writer and Producer
John Ridpath ...
Himself - Professor: York University (as Dr. John Ridpath)
Himself - CBS News Correspondent
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Kay Gonda
Dietrich von Esterhazy


Ayn Rand was born in 1905 in St. Petersberg, Russia. She escaped to America in 1926 amidst the rise of Soviet Communism. She remained in the United States for the rest of her life, where she became a much respected author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. The themes of freedom and individualism were to be her life's passion, and would win her a devoted following among readers. Her books continue to sell over 300,000 copies each year. Upon her arrival in America, Ayn Rand applied for a screenwriting position at the DeMille Studios in Hollywood. On that same day, a chance meeting with DeMille brought her to the set of The King of Kings where she was hired as an extra for the film. But, it wasn't until her 1936 Broadway success, Night of January 16th, that she first achieved fame as a writer. The play, a courtroom drama that was tried before a jury drawn from the audience each night, had two endings for each verdict. Although a success, it was Ayn's first struggle to keep the ... Written by Strand Releasing <strand@strandreleasing.com>

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A Life More Compelling Than Fiction


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Release Date:

13 February 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ayn Rand: Un sentido de la vida  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$189,083 (USA) (2 October 1998)


$209,244 (USA) (24 September 1999)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

Objectivism - Now 20 percent more culty!
20 March 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Ayn Rand created herself out of whole cloth. This must be acknowledged, and yes it's impressive. Often an immigrant, who had to struggle for freedom, ends up doing more than a rank and file American, who takes it for granted. Rand was definitely a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately... paradoxically... over-achievers can also be full of cr*p. Any admiration for Rand must be tempered by the fact that her writing is a mono-maniacal, unpersuasive snooze. Add to that the sheer creepy, oiliness of the also-Rands she left behind, and she's a complete wash-out. No college studies Rand's disreputable "philosophy."

Rand didn't have a body of work that became a school; instead she had a lot of hard-won, reactive opinions that became serviceable as a personal philosophy; and a generous segment of the population without rudders came to grovel at her feet, and hear why being selfish was actually a good thing; uniting sociopaths and young capitalists under one umbrella.

She quickly became a self-parody. She hated collectives terribly but paradoxically could only conceive of individualism as a cultish dogma she constrained you with. (!?) As few in America have a philosophical life, an early naive encounter with her material (as with $cientology, and Moonie literature) is apt to derail the development of actual emotional depth or a conscience for five to thirty years, lost in the fog of mystification and hero worship.

Her work follows an absurd tiresome pattern. You could write the next Rand tome by just following this handy template: A vigorously independent industrialist wants to use (insert some industry) to prove he's got big brass ones. For 1,500 pages he must endure a bizarre gang of paper-deep anti-individualists motivated by volition that no one has ever actually encountered on earth (Bad man: "grrrrr... I hate maverick individuals!" Good man: "I hate collectives!"). But with the attention of an impressively miserable woman, who only experiences joy when (pick two: she breaks beautiful things / gets put in her place sexually / she can pursue her erotic fixation with machinery) they stand together in triumph on top of (pick one: his own skyscraper, his train, some other phallic symbol) in the end. Spare yourself a read of Atlas Shrugged and just wait for Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie's self-impressed, half-understood production which should be putting theater-goers to sleep in the next year or so.

The ultimate refutation of her ideas comes from Allen Greenspan, a Rand acolyte who when asked to explain why he allowed the country's economy to run itself into the ground, stated that he couldn't fathom that bankers would act in their own self-interest without concern for the well-being of the nation. Well, I guess that makes me smarter than you Allen. Please go away, Randlings.

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