We the Living (1942) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • The time is the Russian Revolution. The place is a country burdened with fear - the midnight knock at the door, the bread hidden against famine, the haunted eyes of the fleeing, the grublike fat of the appeasers and oppressors. In a bitter struggle of the individual against the collective, three people stand forth with the mark of the unconquered in their bearing: Kira, who wants to be a builder, and the two men who love her - Leo, an aristocrat, and Andrei, a Communist. In their tensely dramatic story, Ayn Rand shows what the theories of Communism mean in practice. We the Living is not a story of politics but of the men and women who have to struggle for existence behind the Red banners and slogans. It is a picture of what dictatorship - of any kind - does to human beings, what kind of men are able to survive, and which of them remain as the ultimate winners. What happens to the defiant ones? What happens to those who succumb? Who are the winners in this conflict? Against a vivid panorama of political revolution and personal revolt, Ayn Rand offers an answer that challenges the modern conscience.

  • This movie is considered biographical of Ayn Rand. It came from her experiences as a young women in Russia after the 1917 revolution. Kira is the name of her character and she has a love at first site moment with a very young Rossano Brazzi at his most handsome. They are in dire poverty because they refuse to join the communist party and try to leave the country together. When that fails, their on going struggle leads to Brazzi becoming ill with tuberculosis. Kira must find a way to fund his treatment and she offers herself to a high level communist party member who reveres Kira for her beauty and spirit. She pretends to love the man in order to get money for her true loves health. This is a 3 hour movie, so be prepared. It is dubbed in Italian with English subtitles. It has a dark dreary tone to it, but the script is awesome for an Ayn Rand fan.

  • Doomed love within a corrupt political world. At 18, the beautiful and smart Kira comes to Petersburg as the Communists consolidate power. She rebuffs a cousin who rises in the Party and may remember the slight. She falls in love with Leo, the son of an aristocrat, who gets into political trouble and never gets out. Meanwhile, a Party leader, Andrei, also loves her, and she feigns love for him to get political protection for Leo and money to pay for his TB treatment. But can Leo forgive her being Andrei's mistress? Subplots dramatize Party corruption, the disillusion of those who fought hardest in the revolution, and reflections on the man's individual nature.


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