Ayn Rand's We the Living
In post-Revolutionary Russia, Kira's family of ex-aristocrats returns to the city they will always call Petrograd and take up residence in a few rooms of what used to be their house. Young Kira (played by Alida Valli) has no respect for anyone who works for the new Soviet government. She rebuffs the advances of her cousin Victor, a loyal Party member, and instead has a monthly rendezvous with Leo (played by Rossano Brazzi), the son of a famous counter-revolutionary. The police are looking for Leo and Kira is nearly pulled into trouble with him. Yet unbidden, people in high places seem to intervene in her behalf. One of Kira's unbidden saviors is Andrei (played by Fosco Giachetti), an inspector for the GPU security police, who seems anxious to reunite the two lovers. This is the beginning of a story that spans several years in the lives of Kira, Leo, and Andrei, a story involving politics and crime, love and death.

DVD9 + DVD5 | NTSC 4:3 | 01:29:35 + 01:25:30 | 7.52 Gb + 3.88 Gb
Language: Italiano
Subtitles: English hardcoded
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Romance, War

Director: Goffredo Alessandrini
Cast: Alida Valli, Fosco Giachetti, Rossano Brazzi
Country: Italy

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 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.

The new, special edition 2-disc DVD set, has the full 2 hour and 52 minute authorized film, restored under the personal supervision of Ayn Rand, PLUS almost 50 minutes of never-before-seen deleted scenes.

The Bonus Features disc also features an all-new 35 minute making-of documentary vividly telling the amazing story of how this film classic was made. A highlight of the video is an exclusive first hand account of how Italian authorities banned the film, as told by the studio executive who managed the production. His heroic efforts to hide the film's original negatives prevented the film from being forever lost.

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