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The Passion of Ayn Rand

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Editorial Reviews

Helen Mirren, Eric Stoltz, Julie Delpy, Peter Fonda, Sybil Temchen, Tom McCamus - Dir:Christopher Menaul The true story of the 15-year love affair between novelist-philosopher-iconoclast Ayn Rand and her handsome young protege, Nathaniel Branden, based on

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Helen Mirren, Eric Stoltz, Julie Delpy, Peter Fonda, Sybil Darrow
  • Directors: Christopher Menaul
  • Writers: Barbara Branden, Howard Korder, Mary Gallagher
  • Producers: Barry Krost, Doug Chapin, Irwin Meyer, Linda Curran Wexelblatt
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Showtime Ent.
  • DVD Release Date: February 20, 2001
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000056BP0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,728 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Passion of Ayn Rand" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Hello on February 2, 2007
Format: DVD
Despite the hagiographic-sounding title, this film is not a work in praise of the novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand. Instead, it is a biopic, based on a book of the same title, written by Barbara Branden, an erstwhile close friend and high-ranking follower of Rand.

Two attractive young students, Nathaniel Blumenthal (who later changes his name to Nathaniel Branden) and Barbara Weitman (Eric Stoltz and Julie Delpy), are invited, following an enthusiastic letter, to meet their idol, Ayn Rand, at the home she shares with her husband Frank O'Connor (heartbreakingly portrayed by Peter Fonda) in California. Both are passionate devotees of her ideas of Objectivism, reason and self-interest, and find a willing guru in Rand, played with grim charisma by Helen Mirren.

While Nathan is attracted to Barbara, her feelings for him are closer to friendship - but under pressure from Rand, who argues that emotion is always based on reason and that therefore the young couple's shared ideals make them a perfect sexual match, the two of them marry. Their unsuccessful marriage, already intimately destructive since Nathaniel has taken it upon himself to act as Barbara's psychotherapist as well as her husband, seeking to eradicate the 'faulty principles' that make her uncomfortable with the relationship, is worsened when Rand and Nathaniel begin an affair, insisting that their prospective partners accept this sexual relationship as the necessary consequence of their mental compatibility. The tensions between the characters play out against the rising cult of the Nathaniel Branden Institute and the success of Atlas Shrugged, leading to moral and emotional chaos under the guise of reason and idealism.
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70 of 80 people found the following review helpful By M. Leppa on October 11, 2003
Format: DVD
I was disappointed with this film. I was thinking (or hoping) this film was going to be about the passion of knowledge, ideas, thinking, and any other form of mental stimulation; I really didn't think there was much of that in this film. Maybe I'm just odd in the way I dislike Hollywood's usual portrayal of passion: love affairs et cetera. Passion in this film was portrayed in the Hollywood sense. There was brief mentioning of thoughts, the mind, ideas, the individual, et al, but I felt they were only in idle chatter, and not what really mattered. Maybe all the "Hollywood passion" represented in this film turned me off, but I would have rather spent my time doing something other than watching this film.

Recently I had the pleasure of a watching a different documentary film about Miss Rand called _Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life_. And I think if you are looking for more details actually about her, her life, and her ideas, rather than love affairs which I thought were quite unpleasant within _The Passion of Ayn Rand_, _Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life_ is the film I think you'll enjoy to watch and listen to instead.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Monty Vierra on September 24, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This Showtime film takes up the life of Ayn Rand from chapter 20 in Barbara Branden's biography of the same title. The director and screen writers have effectively transmitted the turn from naive hero worship of Rand that Barbara and her boyfriend Nathaniel experienced in the late 1940s to the subsequent stormy love affair between Rand and Nathaniel with its consequences in the lives of Frank O'Connor (Rand's husband) and Barbara, who had married Nathaniel. When the affair started, Rand was in the middle of writing her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, a philosophical novel about unstinting individualists who love whom they will on the way to creating the world they want.

Julie Delpy fairly portrays Barbara's "descent into hell" (to borrow from a Doris Lessing title) of psychological intimidation and manipulation and its breeding of guilt, but Helen Mirren appropriately dominates the screen, mastering Rand's intensity down to detailed mannerisms that conform not only to Barbara's account but to filmed interviews. (For excerpts from these interviews and more, see Michael Paxton's "Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life," DVD, 2004, available on Amazon.) Whereas Delpy gives us a woman in tune with social dynamics (including jealousy) as well as ideas, Mirren shows a single-minded pursuit of personal goals that easily ignores the existence of others, a kind of "blanking out" of social reality (to borrow an epithet that Rand frequently used). In the scene where Rand negotiates her affair with Nathaniel in the presence of Frank and Barbara, Mirren's voice, face, and body move inexorably from her assumption that everyone will accept her simple moral calculus--what's best for her must be good for all--to mild indignation that the others cannot see with her clarity what is in her/their best interest.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lemmy Caution on June 7, 2010
Format: DVD
Helen Mirren -- as usual -- gives an excellent performance as Ayn Rand, and she's the main reason to see this film. The rest of the cast is fine; the script -- which should have been called "The Panic Attacks of Barbara Branden" or "The Affairs of Nathaniel Branden" -- assumes the viewer already knows everything about Ayn Rand's fiction and philosophy. This is a big problem. For example, near the beginning the Brandens are shown meeting Ayn Rand and her husband at their home in California. This brief scene then cuts to the young couple driving away, filled with excitement about the hours they've just spent talking with their idol, Ayn Rand. Unfortunately the viewer isn't given a clue as to what their all-night conversation was about.

This film would've been far more interesting if the focus had been more on Rand and her ideas, not mainly on the sex between her and Nathaniel Branden, or on Barbara's fainting spells. There should have been at least two or three scenes between Rand and the Brandens, or with Rand giving speeches or interviews, that would serve to clarify what her ideas were and why they attracted and influenced so many people in the 1950s and 60s. (There is one brief exchange of dialogue at an Objectivist lecture where Rand answers a question about her core beliefs by stating: "Reason. Individualism. Capitalism.", but that's all we get to hear, folks.) Otherwise the film makes it difficult to understand why Rand became such a magnetic cult-figure and was able to command such devotion from her friends and followers.

Once again: see it for Mirren's performance, but try to imagine a better script.
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