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72 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent character drama
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)...
Published on February 2, 2007 by Hello

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65 of 75 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Passion in the sense of love affairs, rather than ideas etc.
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...
Published on October 11, 2003 by M. Leppa


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72 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent character drama, February 2, 2007
This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand (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.

Whether or not the film is an accurate depiction of the real situation is much debated, but as a character study, as a film in its own right, it's excellent. Rand, as portrayed by Mirren, comes across as a woman who argues for reason and individual rights, while in fact being ruled, and ruling all those around her, by her own emotions, a toxic and pathetic queen eternally refusing to see how human nature cannot measure up to her image of it. Stoltz as Nathaniel is a fine portrayal of a bright and not-all-that-bad young man, whose faults, a tendency to self-centredness and dishonesty, are horribly magnified by becoming the favourite disciple of an inconsistent guru, to his own harm as well as everyone else's. Delpy plays the confused, idealistic and fragile Barbara with integrity and passion, and Fonda's portrayal of the kind, weary, alcoholic Frank, clear-sighted about what's going on but too dependent on his wife, both financially and emotionally, to speak up, is downright tragic. There are splendid performances from a strong cast, with an involving story that encourages sympathy with flawed people. Rand supporters may not like it, as it portrays Rand, Branden and the Objectivist movement as fundamentally hypocritical and deluded, but neutral viewers will enjoy an engaging and unusual story, intelligently told and skilfully handled. Well worth a look.
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65 of 75 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Passion in the sense of love affairs, rather than ideas etc., October 11, 2003
By 
M. Leppa (Minneapolis, MN United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand (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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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Effective rendition of Barbara Branden's bio of Rand, September 24, 2009
By 
Monty Vierra (Salt Lake City, Utah) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand (DVD)
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. Mirren, like Rand, is in control.

Peter Fonda's Frank O'Connor is subdued, sometimes stiff, sometimes baffled, the repressed husband described in the bio. In a scene showing all four walking on a sidewalk, director Menaul has Frank slightly behind the group, ceding the right of way to another pedestrian heading in the opposite direction. Frank seems to take a fatherly interest in Barbara, distantly reminiscent of Jean Val Jean and Cosette. Fonda carries the sense of repression well, showing Barbara kindness and Rand forbearance. Eric Stoltz does an effective job of creating the mixed emotions of a man more in love with ideas than with people, until he finds someone younger, not quite so bright, that he can control without effort.

The supporting cast of easily intimidated businessmen (men only) and easily awed young intellectuals (mostly men but some women) accurately conveyed how hangers on can become sycophants or be driven to despair by the presence of charismatic people. When reason is a weapon to inculcate agreement rather than a tool for building understanding, second-hand parroting can often substitute for real thought. One of these characters works as a screenwriter and must compromise to keep his job, and Mirren's contempt for him is vivid and excruciating. ("Contempt" is an attitude high in the Randian social repertoire, and Mirren picked up on it well.)

The opening and closing New York skyline scenes recall Rand's fascination with the distinctive tall buildings of American modern architecture, but the nightscape hints at the darkness of the story, which is more sad than poignant. The jazz score adds to this feeling, underscoring the Bohemian mood of New York in the 50s and early 60s. This film has little room for what Rand called the "tiddly-wink" music that she relaxed to, though the Blue Danube Waltz gives some of the exhilaration that she must have felt when she was in control. (Rachmaninov, one of her favorites for "serious" music, may have been either too subtle or too bombastic for this film.)

And now for a small quibble...

Although Showtime should be commended for making this film, they also undercut the story on the back of the DVD by saying Rand had a "bizarre love life." Though the Victorians were scandalized by Dickens's and Hugo's affairs with much younger women, few today would care; apparently an older woman writer needing a younger man to stay inspired still seems "bizarre" to our Victorian holdovers.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Helen Mirren is Excellent as Ayn Rand -- But What Were Her Ideas?, June 7, 2010
By 
Lemmy Caution (San Francisco, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand (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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for the Ayn Rand enthusiast, April 7, 2008
By 
V. King (Indianapolis, Indiana) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand (DVD)
If you are a true, die-hard, Ayn Rand fan, and are familiar with the details of her life, then you will find this perspective a bit hard to take in spots. Definitely a TV drama program...where all of the emphasis is on her personal love affairs, and not much on her as an author, or a prophetic genius of phylosophy. However, if you are willing to objective, and allow yourself to weed through the drama, there are little tid-bits of good film making...but mostly, it is a love story as has been told many, many times before...
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28 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Woman, So-So Movie, September 20, 2001
By 
C. SPAETH "Spellmagi" (Chippewa Falls, WI USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand (DVD)
I like to think I'm qualified to "objectively" review this film. I am a disciple of Rand who really loved the Barbara Branden book. I believe what Branden wrote about Rand, because her portrait of Ayn is complete and consistent. Rand's passion for ideas made her testy with stupid people and willing to break social norms such as those that govern how married people behave. Those objectivists who wish to dismiss this book and film as slander ought to look in the mirror. You are just as stubborn and dogmatic as she.
Which isn't to say she isn't the greatest mind of the 20th century, because she is. Her ideas changed my life. It's the absense of any real discussion of those ideas that sinks this movie. There's are just enough bits of objectivist rhetoric to make Rand sound the leader of a bizarre cult. Only the final scene where she speaks to a group of her disciples and critics does her justice. She sparkles with wit and antagonism while confidently defending every attack on her unique philosophy.
Not surprisingly this is the image I took away from Branden's original book which has several hundred pages to flesh out the Rand's complete and at times flawed character.
Without much philosophy to lean on for support, this movie seems pretty unbelievable. The acting is great of course, its a dream cast. A better script and a director less attracted to the dirt of the story could have made this truly special, an emotionally powerful film about ideas.
Chris Spaeth
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ugh., September 21, 2012
By 
burpo (Russian River, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand (DVD)
Difficult, even unlikable people make for often terrific movies, but what does some blackmailer have on Helen Mirren that she got stuck in a turd-stuffed turkey like this? What seems to make sense on the page has the life sucked out of it by the reliably low-wattage of Eric Stolz. Peter Fonda, likewise, seems to have wound up in this movie after losing a bet. You could change all of the names of the characters and it wouldn't matter. This is a plug and play film about generic intellectual X and how her selfish out-there-ness wears out her loved ones. Zzzzzzzz. This director clearly does not have the gift of getting worthwhile performances out of his actors.

Anyone who already knows who Ayn Rand is won't benefit from seeing this movie
(which has one of the most relentlessly irritating jazz scores I can think of). Anyone who doesn't yet know who Ayn Rand is will, after seeing this film, still not know.

What a waste.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hypocrisy On Rand's Part, September 29, 2008
This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand (DVD)
I was a student of Ayn Rand's philosophy and a patient of Mr. Branden's several decades ago, in the early 70's. Why? Because I was trying in vain to live as Ms. Rand said we should: as heroic figures every day, perfect in our morals, that we should aspire to be as perfect as the impossibly perfect,cold, robotic main characters of her novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shugged. The only book of hers I read several times was We The Living as the characters were most like flesh and blood and real.

While I was going to Group at Mr. Branden's house I had no idea that he'd had an affair with Ayn Rand as it was apparently known only to some insiders I'd guess. Had I known, I would have immediately ended the relationship. As it was he was totally ineffectual as a therapist, barely able to stay awake while we spoke, and like comic shrinks in movies, lets you answer your own questions when you're paying HIM to! Years later, 15 free minutes with Dr. Laura on the radio fixed the problem I had (guilt over the death of a family member.)

The upside of all this:I did know Patrecia who was changed to another fictional woman in the movie. She was a Goddess. All the men loved her, all the women wanted to BE her. She was the essence of joy and life and she died way too young....slight epilepsy that was caused by strobing sunlight dancing off the pool whereupon she had a seizure and fell into the water, drowning.

Now I see that the high moral standards we underlings were supposed to uphold were completely tossed out the window by Ms. Rand and Mr. Branden. Barbara Brandon's book also reported that Ms. Rand was often under the influence of some seriously strong amphetamines and I'm sure if she saw I had done the same thing , she'd have blasted me for not having the moral courage to go through life without artificial courage.

I admire Ms. Rand for her works and her diligent fight against Communism (she is reeling in her grave at where our country stands now!), but it turned out to be do as I say, not as I do. I wasted a lot of years trying to be what she thought we should all aspire to. We can't. It's an impossibility. We are human, with human frailties which she and Nathaniel obviously both succumbed to. You just can't change Nature, which Ayn hated because she only loved that which was man-made. You can take some of this philosophy, but toss out what isn't right for you, otherwise you're a round peg in a very tight, painful square hole.

I believe this movie was a hatchet job to discredit her as she always stated:

"The best way to destroy greatness is to celebrate the mediocre." Or words to that affect.

Just look at who eats up all the news 7 days a week: Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Lindsey, Anna-Nicole, etc, ad nauseum!

Atlas Shrugged is rumored to be in the works with Angelina Jolie, but don't hold your breath.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the passion for power, April 19, 2011
This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand (DVD)
I thought the film was brilliant. I watched it a while ago, before the current resurgence of interest in Ayn Rand's ideas ( or prejudices). Having read Rand many years ago in my college days, and having a more recent interest in Nathaniel Brandon's work - from the point of view of psychology rather than ideology, and having matured considerably since those college days, I found the film particularly insightful. Yes, it has a large component of the affairs and sexual manipulation, but that is crucial to understanding her. She was a manipulator, brilliant and with considerable karisma, attractive on many levels, but rather psychopathic like many other manipulators and people in power. I saw the film more as a portrayal of that element - the psychological manipulation of others - for money, for power, for sex - for ego. There are many such people, and I have known a few. I know how easy it is for those who are unsure of their own identity and self to get caught up in their webs. Helen Mirren, of course is a brilliant actress and the script, the acting, the direction - all are very good. I highly recommend watching it, especially now that Rand's works are having somewhat a resurgence among the American far-right.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 years after her death? Makes you wonder...., May 10, 2001
This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand (DVD)
I LOVED this lite flick, but ... I rented it... What was so amazing about it was that, 20 years after her death, a whole new generation of kids with cams would be so lathered up over something she must have written that they would yet be compelled to slap out something like this to try and keep her in the ground! Inquiring minds should ask themselves; what DID she ever write that still has folks of a certain bent so intent on safely, if futily, beating her corpse, 20 years after her death? Fortunately, ...most of her works available in paperback, and inquiring minds can easily find out. That is, if they don't just pop in this DVD, take the 2 hour Hollywood hatchet job as all they need to know about this woman, and consider themselves informed. But, if they do...well, God bless their popcorn fed SurroundSound little minds and good luck to them. But, I loved this flick, because it reminded me to refresh my library, which was easy and [AFFORDABLE]. My sister saved my life in '69, when I was 14, simply by throwing a copy of AS at me and saying, "Read this." Over the years, I keep handing out copies to folks, and that part of the library ebbs and flows. Now, my son is about 13, and it's about time for his innoculation against the beekeepers waiting for him at college. ...
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The Passion of Ayn Rand
The Passion of Ayn Rand by Christopher Menaul (DVD - 2001)
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