Classic Film Review- We The Living


I rarely watch foreign films, but I had to check this one out when I saw it at a Goodwill. Originally released at two films in 1942 (Noi Vivi and Addio Kira), director Goffredo Alessandrini brought to life Ayn Rand’s epic, yet tragic novel We The Living

Made in Fascist Italy, the filmmakers never sought Rand’s approval for the film, and made it without her consent and did not give her compensation. Though about liberty, Alessandrini managed to sell it as anti-Soviet film, Italy’s wartime enemy. He had an ensemble of great Italian actors actresses including: Alida Valli as Kira Argounova, Rossano Brazzi as Leo Kovalensky, Fosco Giachetti as Andrei Taganov, Giovanni Grasso as Tishenko, and Emilio Cigoli as Pavel Syerov.

Instead of a script, the director used a copy of the book and would have the actors perform a particular part of the book, making it one of the most faithful adaptions of a novel. He inserted pro-fascists speeches from characters to avoid censorship. 

Though initially given approval, the film was withdrawn from theaters and was considered lost for many years, however, Ayn Rand heard of this film and detested the distortion of her message in the book. When the film company that produced went out of business, Rand sent her lawyers to Italy where they successfully brought it back to the United States. Rand had her friend, filmmaker Duncan Scott, assemble a team to re-edit the film, removing all pro-fascist remarks and re-released it in 1986 as a single movie. 

Today, it is an epic classic that follows the novel almost to the letter, though it leaves out some subplots and “sums up” some of the events of the novel. It is one of the most powerful films I have seen from Italian cinema, though granted, I have not seen a lot. 

PARENTAL WARNING: Minor Language and Thematic Elements of a violent nature

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