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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.

Director:

Michael Paxton

Writer:

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

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Revealing the surprising life story of one of the world's most influential minds, this unprecedented film weaves together Ayn Rand's own recollections and reflections, providing a new understanding of her inspirations and influences.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Sharon Gless ... Narrator (voice)
Michael S. Berliner 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 Sylvia Bokor ... Herself - Artist
Daniel E. Greene Daniel E. Greene ... Himself - Artist
Cynthia Peikoff Cynthia Peikoff ... Herself - Friend and Secretary
Leonard Peikoff Leonard Peikoff ... Himself - Intellectual Heir and Friend (as Dr. Leonard Peikoff)
Al Ramrus Al Ramrus ... Himself - Writer and Producer
John Ridpath John Ridpath ... Himself - Professor: York University (as Dr. John Ridpath)
Mike Wallace ... Himself - CBS News Correspondent
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Janne Peters ... Kay Gonda
Peter Sands ... Dietrich von Esterhazy
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

A Life More Compelling Than Fiction


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 February 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ayn Rand: Un sentido de la vida See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$26,101, 16 February 1998

Gross USA:

$205,246

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$205,246
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Connections

Features Donahue (1967) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The problem isn't bias, it's shallowness.
17 January 1999 | by meeblySee all my reviews

Let's face it. Every documentary is biased. No matter how objective (forgive the situational wordplay) a documentary filmmaker wants to be in presenting his/her subject, he/she has a point of view, or else why bother making the film at all?

The problem here is not Michael Paxton's bias, although he is clearly an adoring fan of the writer/philosopher. The problem is that in painting a portrait of this equally celebrated and vilified woman, he never shows, and only barely tells of, the vilification. As a result, he doesn't give viewers, not even her most ardent admirers, reason to celebrate her.

The film mentions in passing some of her flaws as a person, and repeatedly talks of the criticism surrounding her ideas. But we never hear any of the criticism, any of the arguments against, anything at all to cast her in the light of "defender of the faith," or defender of anything at all, for that matter. She states her case time and again, in interviews, in excerpts from her novels and philosophical works, etc. But we're left with a feeling of "Great. Why should I care?"

Not many people will see this film -- 2 1/2 hour docs rarely draw the masses in theater, on video or anywhere else -- so I'll make a rather simplistic analogy. Think of "Star Wars". How compelled would we be to root for the good of the force if we hadn't heard Darth Vader expound on the power of evil (the Dark Side)? How can you convince anyone of any point, positive or negative, without at least presenting the counterpoint?

Viewers who already adore Rand will no doubt cheer this film. For them, it's very palatable candy. Her detractors shouldn't waste their time. But a documentary is supposed to educate viewers in some way, and the uneducated will get nothing more than a biography and an unquestioned statement of philosophy. That's not much for any doc, but especially for one this long.


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