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Noi vivi
Noi vivi (1942)
Movie
  • Director:
    Goffredo Alessandrini
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Ayn Rand,Corrado Alvaro
  • Cast:
    Alida Valli,Fosco Giachetti,Rossano Brazzi
  • Time:
    1h 34min
  • Year:
    1942
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.
Casts
Cast overview, first billed only:
Alida Valli Alida Valli - Kira Argounova
Fosco Giachetti Fosco Giachetti - Andrei Taganov
Rossano Brazzi Rossano Brazzi - Leo Kovalenski
Emilio Cigoli Emilio Cigoli - Pavel Sjerov
Giovanni Grasso Giovanni Grasso - Stephan Tishenko
Annibale Betrone Annibale Betrone - Vassili Dunaev
Elvira Betrone Elvira Betrone - Maria Petrovna Dunaev
Sennuccio Benelli Sennuccio Benelli - Saska
Cesarina Gheraldi Cesarina Gheraldi - La compagna Sonja
Silvia Manto Silvia Manto - Mariska
Gioia Collei Gioia Collei - La piccola Acia Dunaev
Bianca Doria Bianca Doria - Irina Dunaev
Lamberto Picasso Lamberto Picasso - Il capo della G.P.U.
Claudia Marti Claudia Marti - Lidia Augounova
Evelina Paoli Evelina Paoli - Galina Petrovna Argounova

Noi vivi (1942)

The film is based on the novel "We the living" by Russian-born author Ayn Rand. When director Gofferdo Alessandrini read the book, he immediately thought it would make an excellent screen epic, but Italy was at war with the United States and acquiring rights to the novel would be a major obstacle. Taking advantage of the laisser-faire policy of the time, Alessandrini and screenwriter Anton Majano simply decided to use the novel and base their screenplay on it. Whilst he was working on another film (Nozze di sangue), Scalera Film, the production company, asked several other writers to rewrite scenes and alter the dialogue from the existing screenplay, but the final draft ended up being so different from the screenplay produced by Alessandrini and Majano that they both decided to start shooting without a script and just follow the book. The pair wrote scenes at night and handed them to the actors in the morning. As weeks went by, it soon became clear to them that it would take longer than the customary three weeks of shooting to finish this film. They also realised that there was enough material for two films, but they chose not to share this information with the actors for fear they would demand to be paid double. Despite the fact that Rand's book is an overt criticism of the communist regime and ideology, the fascist Ministry of Culture soon became aware that Alessandrini was also using the film as a platform to criticise the Mussolini government. The shooting was interrupted several times by fascist officials who demanded to see the rushes, but Alessandrini had two edited copies of the film: one that would be in line with the fascist ideology and another one which reflected his own vision of the story. In September 1942, after nearly five months of shooting, the film was completed and presented at the Venice Film Festival where it was awarded the Volpi Cup. It went on general release in November of the same year as two separate films, "Noi Vivi" and "Addio Kira!" and proved to be a resounding success with the Italian public who regarded it as an indirect indictment of the Mussolini regime. But the authorities soon got wind of this and the film was banned after five months, all copies seized and ordered to be destroyed but fortunately one negative was kept and hidden. After the war, Scalera Film approached Ayn Rand to secure the literary rights to the film so it could be re-released but she refused. A few years later, Scalera Films went into receivership and as part of the inventory of Scalera films, both "Noi Vivi" and "Addio Kira!" were turned over to a holding company, which relegated them to a vault where they remained for over twenty-five years. It was not until the late 1960's that Ayn Rand was able to locate the original nitrate negatives, still in good condition in the vault in Rome. Both films were restored, combined into one, and released (with English subtitles) in 1986 as "We the Living" at the Telluride Film festival in Colorado where it received rave reviews, over forty years after its original release.

Grinin
Grinin
Goffredo Alessandrini's unauthorized 1942 version of Ayn Rand's novel "We the Living" appeared in Fascist Italy in two separate parts: NOI VIVI and ADDIO, KIRA. They are essentially one film. It was the grim story of post-revolutionary Russia, the forced collectivization of the economy and the brutal suppression of human rights, all told from the viewpoint of one woman, Kira. Ayn Rand's novel was autobiographical and was essentially a diatribe against the loss of individuality in totalitarian societies.

The film attracted a sizable audience in Italy. The Fascist government saw the film(s) as a condemnation of Soviet misery but when it became aware that the movie(s) implied a condemnation of all totalitarian states, left and right, it withdrew them from distribution.

They were not seen again and were thought lost until the early 1960s when Ayn Rand's attorneys located prints in Rome. Ayn Rand liked the movie(s) a great deal, while having reservations about certain liberties that had been taken with dialog and situations. She died in 1982 and did not live to see the re-issue of the film, which was brought about under the auspices of the Ayn Rand estate. The original two-part 4-hour version was edited down to a 170-minute one-film version. One major speech (of Fosco Giachetti) was redubbed to assert Randian philosophy, and the ending (with the death of Kira in the snow as she is shot trying to escape from Russian) was eliminated, rendering the film more optimistic.

We are glad that the film was made available in some form after having been lost for decades. After all, how many films from Fascist Italy get picked up for commercial distribution in America these days? But we also regret that Alessandrini's complete artistic achievement was truncated and tampered with. Wasn't creative integrity the theme of Rand's novel "The Fountainhead"?

Having had the good fortune of seeing the uncut integral two films on video in Italy, I can vouch for them as being more satisfying, less disjointed in that format. Let's be clear. This new version is NOT a "restoration" as some are calling it. It is, rather, an "adaptation." We are ambivalent about it but pleased to have it. And the 35mm print material is first rate.

As much as anything else, WE THE LIVING is a whopping good love story, of "Camille"-like intensity and "Anna Karenina"-like grandeur. The stunning Alida Valli as Kira and Rossano Brazzi as her wastrel lover Leo, devour the screen in their scenes together. Fosco Giachetti as Andrei, head of the secret police and willing to sacrifice honor and ideals for Kira, is poignant and unforgettable. As is this film, or as are these films.
Hbr
Hbr
This commentary is for the transformed and edited American version of the Italian film "Noi vivi" that was released in Italy in two parts - "Noi vivi" and "Addio Kira!". Unfortunately I haven't seen the Italian integral version, but even in the American version the film hasn't lost the grandeur.

"We, the living" ("Noi vivi" Part 1 & 2) - the film is alive. It hasn't dated and it can't simply be dismissed as anticommunist propaganda. "We, the living" goes beyond that. The film was made in 1942 and the action takes place in Russia (then Soviet Union) from the early 20s to the early 30s. Taking into account the historical facts mentioned in the film, the story maybe takes place between 1922 and 1930. Still the story could take place in Mussolini's Italy or any other country ruled by a dictatorship. To give a very simple definition, the film is about the fight of Man against Society, but this is a too narrow definition as "We, the living" is mainly about love, beauty and the right of each one to choose his/her own way.

Kira, a eighteen-year old girl, goes with her family from Crimea to St. Petersburg (then called Petrograd). They are white Russians (the white Russians were against the communists and they were usually of noble or middle class extraction). In St. Petersburg their life is very difficult. The communists are slowly tightening their grip. It's necessary to adapt to the new reality, but will the communists let them breathe in peace? Kira will know Leo Kovalenski (son of the admiral Kovalenski, shot by the communists), who has become an undesirable and is on the run from the reds. They fall in love, but he's in hiding, he can't be seen. It's all very difficult! In the meantime Kira gets to know Andrei, a GPU (the soviet secret police) officer. Attraction. And this attraction will grow. A love triangle and a dilemma for Kira. Each one of the main characters will face a dilemma.

In "We, the living" the cinematography, the acting and the soundtrack give the film a contemporaneous feel. "We, the living" may not have many outdoor scenes but evokes quite well the harsh Russian winters and the snowy landscape... the plight of the white Russians, the crowded streets and apartments, the disillusion that follows in the wake of every revolution... And Alida Valli, as the young Kira, is quite impressing. Fosco Giachetti, as the GPU officer deserves mention too, the acting in general is first rate. As to the film, there's no need to be afraid of the subject - there's no vulgar anticommunist propaganda (as there were so many!). "We, the living" is more multifaceted than you may think (watch it with open eyes and brain). It's a really moving and absorbing film.
Tygokasa
Tygokasa
I haven't watched that many Italian films made prior to the neo-realist movement but I knew of this film from "Leonard Maltin's Film Guide", so I taped it when shown on late-night TV some years ago. Though it had lain in my "VHS To Watch" pile since that time, I decided to give it a whirl now as a tribute to its leading lady Alida Valli - who died only last week!

The film's history is as convoluted as that of its narrative, which is close to 3 hours in length: the story takes place in Russia and the plot (an unauthorized adaptation of the Ayn Rand novel) naturally dealt with Communism; being a wartime production (if still handsomely mounted), it was deemed to be critical of the Fascist regime and subsequently banned! Only in 1986 was the film restored to its current form - and distributed in the U.S. to considerable success - but, unfortunately, the source print wasn't perfect (with the result that the video version suffers from some distracting fuzziness, particularly towards the end)...

Despite its epic scope, the film is decidedly talky and necessarily heavy-going in nature; but the acting (featuring perhaps romantic idol Rossano Brazzi's finest performance) is terrific and, as a whole, the narrative anticipates another troubled wartime epic - Marcel Carne''s masterpiece CHILDREN OF PARADISE (1945), particularly in the way Valli is pursued by a number of suitors throughout the film but ends up alone by the end of it.

The only other film by director Goffredo Alessandrini I've watched is ABUNA MESSIAS (1939), another historical piece but - ironically enough - a propagandist one! In the end, with all the celebrated classics that have emerged from Italy along the years by any number of influential auteurs, WE THE LIVING remains - with good reason - an important film and, undeniably, one of the most impressive (if largely unsung) ever made in that country.
Kahavor
Kahavor
This entry refers to the Italian title for the Goffredo Allesandrini wartime production of Rand's 1936 autobiographical novel "We The Living". Released in Fascist Italy, it was banned after a five-month run when authorities discovered that the anticollectivist statements by several characters applied as much to fascism as to the communism in Russia to which the plot specifically referred. At least one print was discovered in Italy in the 1960's and in 1986 the film was rereleased with English subtitles under the English title.