Cinema Lumiere - Sala Scorsese > 09:30

We the Living

Goffredo Alessandrini

Introduced by Duncan Scott (Duncan Scott Productions)


Monday 27/06/2022


Original version with subtitles

We the Living

Film Notes

We the Living is a combined version of two films, Noi Vivi and Addio Kira, (1942). The films were based on the semi-autobiographical novel written by American author Ayn Rand, who had not authorized the filming or was even aware of it.
They were the largest grossing films in Italy in 1942, but because aspects of the storyline reflected on Benito Mussolini in a negative light, the dictator ordered the films to be banned and destroyed. Instead, the negatives were hidden from authorities.
The location of the negatives had been unknown for 30 years when colleagues of Rand came to Italy and, after a long search, found them. Rand authorized a 2 hr 53 min version. We the Living was fully restored in 2022.

Noi vivi was a novel that had just recently been published in Italy, by Ayn Rand, an American novelist of Russian origin. It was set against the very interesting backdrop of the Russian revolution and featured three characters that, in my opinion, were perfect from a cinematic point of view: a girl from a well-off family; a serious and committed police inspector; and the young son of an admiral in the throes of love. The two male characters were so different from one another, but so interesting anyway, and in between them was this young girl who was in love with one of them because ofhis beauty (thanks to her romantic side) and with the other because of the missionary-like zeal with which he pursued his political life. They were captivating characters for a middlebrow audience. So much so that the film was as successful as you might have predicted, but not at the time. The film was presented at the Venice Film Festival and lasted nearly four hours – three hours and 50 minutes. I must admit that, strangely, during those three hours and 50 minutes nobody got up (and I was rather pleased by this). And it was greeted by delirious applause. Later, Noi vivi was divided into two parts: Noi vivi and Addio Kira.
Nobody described it as an anti-Communist film. Scalera never asked me to make such a film. It was clear to any Italian reader that there were many possible parallels with our situation. For example, the fact that you couldn’t work if you weren’t a member of the party. There was the famous (in the book or for those who saw the film) case of Brazzi who, being the son of an aristocrat exiled by the Communist regime, did not have a job, could not work, and did not want to join up. So, there were situations rather similar to what was happening around us. As a result of this and other analogies, Noi vivi was later unofficially known as the nudge-in-the-dark film. Because that is what happened, and I’ve been told about many instances in which people nudged each other in the dark when confronted by certain situations.

Goffredo Alessandrini

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal romanzo We the Living di Ayn Rand. Scen.: Corrado Alvaro, Anton Giulio Majano, Orio Vergani. F.: Giuseppe Caracciolo. M.: Eraldo da Roma. Scgf.: Andrea Beloborodoff, Giorgio Abkhasi, Amleto Bonetti. Mus.: Renzo Rossellini. Int.: Alida Valli (Kira Argounova), Fosco Giachetti (Andrei Taganov), Rossano Brazzi (Leo Kovalenski), Giovanni Grasso (Tishenko), Emilio Cigoli (Pavel Sierov), Annibale Betrone (Vassili Dunaev), Bianca Doria (Irina Dunaev), Gioia Collei (Acia Dunaev), Mario Pisu (Victor Dunaev), Raf Vallone (marinaio). Prod.: Franco Magli per Scalera, Era Film. DCP. D.: 190’. Bn.