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AYN RAND: A SENSE OF LIFE is an Academy Award-nominated, feature-length documentary that illustrates the author’s sense of life. It paints a portrait of a woman whose work has remained in print for more than eighty years and continues to inspire new generations of readers. It incorporates interviews with the people who knew Ayn Rand best, photos from her personal archives, film clips and original animated sequences to tell her remarkable story — a story of a “life more compelling than fiction.”
SYNOPSIS Ayn Rand was born in 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Escaping the death warrant of the Soviet state, she would later defy the cultural and political views of contemporary America in such best-selling novels as The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Her unique philosophy, Objectivism, upholds the principles of reason and rational self-interest.
Challenging the cultural tradition of 2,500 years, Ayn Rand became the foremost defender of individualism. Through interviews, stills and animated sequences Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life explores her life and her writings — from her days in Soviet Russia and her arrival in America to her career in the Hollywood of the ’20s and ’30s and her life as a controversial author.
In her final public lecture — given in November 1981 to an audience of businessmen in New Orleans — Ayn Rand observes that profit-seeking businessmen are the “most hated, blamed, denounced men” despite conferring huge benefits in the form of higher standards of living. This injustice is further compounded when these same victimized businessmen accept their attackers’ moral standards and end up guiltily apologizing for their own productive virtues, or worse.
As an example of this phenomenon, which Rand calls the “sanction of the victim,” she points to “the fact that some of the worst anti-business, anti-capitalism propaganda has been financed by businessmen” through their financial support for programs in higher education. “It is a moral crime to give money to support your own destroyers,” Rand declares. “Yet that is what businessmen are doing with such reckless irresponsibility.”
In the Q&A period, Rand discusses such topics as America’s relations with Russia, the Solidarity movement in Poland, the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the Moral Majority, educating and raising children, the Equal Rights Amendment, Rand’s method of developing ideas, her hope for the future, the nature of love, whether it’s time for another Tea Party, and her work on an Atlas Shrugged miniseries for television.
The talk lasts 32 minutes, followed by a 21-minute Q&A.
In this 1961 interview about her first nonfiction book, For the New Intellectual, Ayn Rand discusses the collapse of intellectual leadership in the modern world and the need for “new intellectuals” to fill the vacuum. Among the topics Rand discusses are the role of the intellectual in society, the widespread denial of reason’s efficacy, the cultural effects of mysticism, the influence of Plato and Kant, the emergence of businessmen and professional intellectuals during the Industrial Revolution, the achievements of Aristotle and America’s Founding Fathers, and the lengthy process involved in understanding and advocating a new philosophy.
In this 1961 video address to the American Management Association, Ayn Rand examines why capitalism is under constant attack despite its record of success compared to socialism’s record of failure. Rand’s discussion examines the nature of altruism and its incompatibility with capitalism, the three futile arguments that conservatives use to defend capitalism, and the nature of the moral crisis confronting the world. Rand urges businessmen not to abandon the realm of ideas to their enemies, to be proud of working for their own self-interest and to stop supporting their own destroyers.