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Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life 1998 NR CC

(122) IMDb 6.9/10
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AYN RAND: A SENSE OF LIFE is the first authorized film look at the life and work of the controversial Russian-born author of "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged." Relive the drama of Ayn Rand`s life and fiction: from her early childhood and escape from Soviet Russia to her struggle and triumph as an American writer whose book sales exceed 300,000 copies annually after five decades in print.

Sharon Gless, Michael S. Berliner
2 hours, 25 minutes

Available to watch on supported devices.

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Product Details

Genres Documentary
Director Michael Paxton
Starring Sharon Gless, Michael S. Berliner
Supporting actors Harry Binswanger, Sylvia Bokor, Daniel E. Greene, Cynthia Peikoff, Leonard Peikoff, Al Ramrus, John Ridpath, Mike Wallace, Janne Peters, Peter Sands, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Cecil B. DeMille, Phil Donahue, Grand Duke Nicholas, Edith Head, Nadezhda Krupskaya, V.I. Lenin
Studio Strand Releasing
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Rental rights 3-day viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

120 of 133 people found the following review helpful By Alejandra Vernon HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 4, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A sweeping, brilliant documentary, this is the best biographical film I have ever seen, with a fascinating subject in Ayn Rand, whose life was as if it had been carved out of one of her epic books, and who lived in a span of time that was historical, with the Russian Revolution, 2 world wars, the Viet Nam era of unrest and ugly rebellion in America, and into the '80s, when she passed on in her seventy-seventh year.

Much like Rand's books, which can be read and re-read, always finding more to think about, this documentary can be repeatedly viewed, and one will always find something missed and something more to learn, because it is so packed with information and extraordinary footage.

The still photographs and archival film footage is astonishing in its quantity and quality, and as explained by filmmaker Michael Paxton in the 2nd Disc interview, were painstakingly chosen and added to the film; it is an endless collage of her life, narrated with extreme skill by Sharon Gless, whose pleasing voice is perfect for this long (143 minute) film.

Disc 2 has some excellent, insightful interviews, and an exquisitely b&w filmed version of Rand's play "Ideal", starring Janne Peters as screen goddess Kay Gonda. Total running time for Disc 2 is 118 minutes, making this DVD package not only intellectually and visually stimulating, but also giving the viewer a lot for their purchase price.

I find Ayn Rand's ideas some of the most interesting of this or any other era, and as a Christian I don't agree with some of her tenets, but find they challenge and sharpen my thoughts, and believe her to be one of the brightest and most unique literary lights the world has known.

This documentary is a must for those interested in reading her works, to fully appreciate the person behind them, or for those of us who are life-long readers, it is a joy to watch this overview of a well-lived life...and a masterful union of subject and filmmaker.
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92 of 109 people found the following review helpful By Jean-Francois Virey on February 18, 2001
Format: DVD
Ayn Rand may be the person about whom the most stupid things have been written, except for the whole class of people about whom only stupid things can be written. Numerous commentators have improvized themselves experts on her thought and proceeded to demolish it in what they were probably convinced was a very clever way. Numerous others, while proclaiming to be her genuine admirers, have tried to make her a virtual monster by blowing some aspects of her life and personality out of proportion, and projecting on her all sorts of morbid fantasies.
*Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life*, on the other hand, maybe the most perceptive concise presentation of Rand's life and works ever made (and as no full-length treatment is available as yet, this is high praise indeed.)
First, it is a first-rate documentary, rivalling with Ken Burns's widely acclaimed works. It is perfect in its structure, roughly following Ayn Rand's life and seamlessly integrating the more philosophical discussions with the biographical material. It is rich in period detail and source materials, from manuscripts and photos to period films, extracts from movie adaptations or theatrical productions of Rand's works, and highlights from her few TV appearances. And it abounds in perceptive interviews with individuals who knew Rand personally and who, for the most part, devoted their careers to studying her philosophy: mostly PhD's like John Ridpath, Harry Binswanger, Michael Berliner or, last but not least, Leonard Peikoff.
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125 of 152 people found the following review helpful By Lleu Christopher on July 18, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
This is an entertaining and very thorough, though one-sided, look at the life of Ayn Rand, one of the most controversial philosophers of recent times. The fact that many in academia would not deign to call her a "philosopher" at all is due more to ideological bias and her uncompromising nature than to any defect in her thinking or writing. Ayn Rand was a Russian immigrant who loved the idea of America from an early age. In America, and in New York City in particular, she saw the highest culmination of man's achievement. In her view, only a completely free capitalist economic system allows human beings to express their true nature and reach their full potential. This philosophy was later adapted by the modern libertarian movement (which Rand herself quickly disassociated herself from for various personal and ideological reasons). This documentary does a very good job at showing Rand's life in a way she herself would have appreciated (she died some twenty years before the film was made). This, of course, can be considered a defect. There is scarcely one dissenting voice in the film, with the exception of Phil Donahue, who interviewed Rand several times. Leonard Peikoff, called Ayn Rand's "intellectual heir," does not seem to disagree one iota with anything his teacher ever said. The paradox about Ayn Rand and the movement she started, called Objectivism, is that despite its strict adherence to reason and individualism, it had some definite cultlike characteristics. Followers imitated Rand down to the smallest mannerism; for example, it was virtually mandatory to smoke cigarettes as Rand considered this a powerful symbol of man conquering fire (this detail is not in the film).Read more ›
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