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Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life (1997)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Biography | 13 February 1998 (USA)
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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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 USA:

$189,083, 2 October 1998

Gross USA:

$209,244, 26 September 1999
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

compelling story of an unusual woman
21 December 2006 | by See all my reviews

I may not agree with most of Ayn Rand's philosophy, but I do consider her a great fiction writer, and I found this documentary tremendously interesting in all aspects. "The Fountainhead" is one of my favorite books of all time, as it speaks of mediocrity becoming the highest standard by which all is compared - just watch "American Idol" some time and see it in action. She was right. The book was a tremendous eye-opener for me as an artist. I didn't know much about her until I saw this; she was a most fascinating and unusual woman.

The documentary covers Rand's life and work in great detail. It includes her affair with Nathaniel Branden, which didn't seem to keep her from loving her husband - her interview after her husband's death (I believe with Phil Donahue) was remarkable as she speaks about her lack of belief in an afterlife. If she believed in it, she goes on to state, she would have contemplating killing herself in order to join him.

I have to admit that my favorite part of the documentary was a description of the making of the film "The Fountainhead." Rand was apparently a woman first and a philosopher second. She adored Gary Cooper from the time she first came to Hollywood and worked as an extra in silent films. Thrilled that he would be starring in "The Fountainhead," there is a photo of her gazing lovingly up at the tall and gorgeous Cooper. I don't remember how many years it took Rand to write the hero's final speech in the book...but after it was filmed, Cooper admitted he really hadn't understood it. As intellectual as she was, I doubt it changed her opinion of him.

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