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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Noi Vivi (aka We The Living) (1942)

In 1920s post revolutionary Russia, a young girl (Alida Valli) moves to Petrograd with her family whose textile business has been seized by the new Communist government. Struggling in poverty, she meets a young anti-revolutionary (Rossano Brazzi) and they fall in love. She also becomes involved with a student revolutionary (Fosco Giachetti) who is a member of the secret police. Based on the novel by Ayn Rand, the film was made in Fascist Italy during WWII and without her permission. The film was never released in the U.S. but Rand liked most of what she saw and before her death cooperated in turning the four hour film (released in Italy in two parts) into one three hour film. As directed by Goffredo Alessandrini, what we get is a potent look at how "socialism" (at least as practiced by the Soviets) is destructive to the human condition. While Valli's character remains resolute in her ideals, the two men become disillusioned. Indeed, the film's hero is the policeman who sees the State corrupt the very ideals he fought for while the anti-revolutionary becomes corrupt and exploitative. We're spared the novel's depressing end and given an uncommitted more open end which at least gives us hope. A film that demands to be seen at least once whatever your political beliefs. With Emilio Cigoli, Guguelmo Sinaz and Cesarina Gheraldi.

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