5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly effective
The film claims to be based on Barbara Branden's book but from what I've seen of it, it also draws heavily on Nathaniel Branden's "memoir" of his symbiotic relationship with Ayn Rand. A previous reviewer complains of words put in Rand's mouth that were not in Barbara's book. They all seem to appear in Nathaniel's.
Ayn Rand worshippers probably will hate the film...
Published on July 11 2001 by hemsley
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars First learn, then decide.
The three stars I have given are there only because the Amazon page requires me to pick, so I have chosen a neutral number since this is not really about the movie. To explain...
This is by way of a meta-review, that is, a commentary on how to consider the reviews here rather than the TV production or even the book. DON'T BELIEVE ANY OF THEM! Not, at least, until you...
Published on Mar 21 2004 by PHILLIP SCHEARER
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars First learn, then decide.,
This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand [Import] (DVD)The three stars I have given are there only because the Amazon page requires me to pick, so I have chosen a neutral number since this is not really about the movie. To explain...
This is by way of a meta-review, that is, a commentary on how to consider the reviews here rather than the TV production or even the book. DON'T BELIEVE ANY OF THEM! Not, at least, until you have the information to judge them on your own.
This does not mean 'watch the tape or DVD' or even 'read the book', because neither of those will give you the necessary understanding of the central character. Even the Academy Award nominated biographical documentary, "Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life", while very good, still cannot give you enough information since it is only a few hours long and cannot possibly cover the full scope of this remarkable woman.
The reviews here range from nasty to quite good, but you can't be sure which is which until you understand what all the fuss is about, and the ONLY way to do that is to read what Ayn Rand wrote.
Most people start with her two main novels, "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged", and they are worth reading even if only as examples of great fiction. However, you should not stop there, because she wrote broadly of her views on morality, political theory, art, and the deepest intricacies of philosophy, but she also wrote on a myriad of smaller subjects, like her stamp collecting, or why she liked Marilyn Monroe, or what music she liked. It is in the breadth of her writing that you can find the real Ayn Rand.
As I have always warned people, don't believe a thing anyone tells you about Ayn Rand (including me) until you know enough about her. If you are truly interested in what she really was like, you need to first read four or five of her books (you pick). Learn what she had to say and judge for yourself. Then you will be able to understand why some people are so attracted to her and others so hate her, and why some of these reviews are valid and others are not. But you have to do it yourself.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DVD Manufacturer HORRIBLE,
This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand [Import] (DVD)I received two copies of this DVD from Amazon.com. The first one stopped in the middle, froze and would not play. It was warped. I returned it and they sent another. Very good. The second one I received got me two scenes past the first DVD and did the same thing. Don't order this DVD from AMAZON.com.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Passion in the sense of love affairs, rather than ideas etc.,
This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand [Import] (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.
2.0 out of 5 stars All Too Human,
This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand [Import] (DVD)Having studied Rand's philosophy prior to watching this movie, I was put off by her uncompromising, unemotional, atheistic ideas. By watching this movie, I was happy to learn that not even the creator of this pseudo-philosophy could abide by its rules.
Ayn Rand is introduced as a cold and calculating philosopher, berating people who do not follow her ideals entirely. But she turns out to be as human as anyone. No John Galt, no superman (superwoman?), her very actions revealed the emptiness of Objectivism.
Rand is the best-portrayed character, although the movie would have benefited from more of her background - the only hint of her past is a brief conversation at a wedding reception. There was a lot more to Ayn Rand than her philosophy and her libido, and the movie failed to show this. Breathing onto a NYC store window, she draws a dollar sign and proclaims it her emblem. Why is this? What personal experiences led Rand to develop this view? The movie leaves these important questions unanswered.
The other characters seem one-dimensional, especially the angst-ridden, emotionally fragile narrator. The production of this movie, while okay for a made-for-cable show, leaves much to be desired.
Perhaps the most revealing scene is when Rand is asked, during a lecture, what "love" means to an Objectivist. She cannot truly answer this question.This fits with so-called disciples of Rand I've encountered: empty souls, a lack of compassion and confusion.
Rand's so-called philosophy still has a cult following, and this movie may anger them. To those who reject this film's message, I suggest the following adage: "Never let a few facts get in the way of the truth."
2.0 out of 5 stars I wish I hadn't bought it.,
This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand [Import] (DVD)I'm an Ayn Rand fan (I don't dare say "follower").
I didn't like this movie because in spite of its objectivity, it really wasn't about Ayn Rand!
I mean if they were to nominate it for an Oscar, Ayn Rand's character would be "the supporting actress".
I would have much preferred if the focus was on her. I wanted to learn more about her.
If you're really interested in getting to know what she was about, try ASIN: 630529285X. It's a documentary and VERY accurate and capturing.
4.0 out of 5 stars Erratic, but I enjoyed it,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand [Import] (DVD)This definitely dwells on the "soap opera" aspect of the Rand/Branden relationships, and I doubt that someone who hadn't read at least one of the Branden books would be able to fully comprehend the storyline. So, for that part of the film, I only rate 3 stars.
The acting is the best part - Helen Mirren is brilliant, and I can't imagine anyone else playing the part as well. I also found Julie Delpy to be really wonderful - her portrayal was nuanced and very complex, and I feel that Delpy carried the rest of the show when Mirren wasn't onscreen. When both women were in a scene, Delpy definitely held her own, and wasn't outacted by Mirren.
Now, I'm a big fan of Eric Stoltz, but I didnt' find him right for the role of Nathaniel Branden. His portrayal of an intellectual was implausible - way too shallow. He was only effective as a sexual being; the erotic scenes between Stoltz and Mirren, and Stoltz and the woman who played Caroline, were hot.
Peter Fonda was just way too somnolent as Frank. I realize that Frank was supposed to be a "weak" or soft character, but Fonda overplayed that (or underplayed it, I suppose). I find it hard to believe that he was actually nominated for, or won, an acting award for this.
1.0 out of 5 stars horrid,
This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand [Import] (DVD)the Brandens have made a career through defamation of charector of a dead woman. they have become rich entirely based on unproven claims as a means to discredit a rational uncompromising philosophy. they propogate a pragmatic view of objectivism that is adored by libertarians, anarchists and any who build their sad philosophies to fit their pathetic life styles. In a world of compromise, some don't; I wouldn't watch this again if they paid me the $22 to take it.
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice production, no script--read the book instead,
This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand [Import] (DVD)Barbara Branden's book is a clear-eyed view into the turbulent times when Ayn Rand lead the Objectivist Movement. Rand, a philosopher and novelist, had a circle of disciples around her, drawn by her magnetic and forceful personality as well as her bold philosophy that was antagonistic to liberals and conservatives alike.
Despite the fundamental tenet that logic should determine one's emotions, the Objectivist movement was torn apart by the emotional fallout from an affair between Rand and her intellectual heir at that time, Nathaniel Branden. Barbara, his wife, wrote of these events in The Passion of Ayn Rand.
Alas, this nicely produced movie lacks a script and relies on the assumption that the viewer will know the events and philosophy and fill in the blanks. That was a wrong assumption. A good script, showing Rand's dream of the heroic man and her inability to reconcile that with reality, plus her denial of facts that twisted her emotions, would have saved this film and given it coherent meaning. Instead, there was far too much Victim-Barbara (which is not how Barbara Branden portrayed herself in her book) and too little of what made Rand and her philosophy alluring to so many. The only thing they got right in Rand's portrayal was her quick wit and rapier repartee when questioned about her ideas.
Helen Mirrin was a brilliant casting choice as Rand. Peter Fonda does a very true-to-the-book Frank O'Connor. Both Mirrin and Fonda look remarkably like Rand and O'Connor. But Eric Stolz is merely sleazy as Branden, who was not a sleaze even by Barbara's admission. Branden would have been better played by Kyle MacLachlan (Blue Velvet) and given a role as a deluded, manipulated idealistic young man, not an opportunistic bed-hopper.
The jazz score, by the way, is wonderful. Oh well.
1.0 out of 5 stars Why bother with the message, attack the messenger,
This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand [Import] (DVD)Those people who hate Ayn Rand's ideas (pro-communist leftists and anti-abortion conservatives) or enjoy watching Jerry Springer will love this movie. Those who want the truth about Ayn Rand should look somewhere else.
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Woman, So-So Movie,
This review is from: The Passion of Ayn Rand [Import] (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.
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The Passion of Ayn Rand [Import] by Christopher Menaul (DVD - 2001)