Banned! Censored!

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Banned! Censored!

Like many movies, it was adapted from a book.

S483-2.jpgThe year was 1942.  Europe – and the world – was embroiled in the Second World War.  Germany, Italy, Japan, and their allies (the “Axis”) had started the war, but by 1942 were mostly on the defensive.  Britain, the Soviet Union (Russia), the United States, and their allies fought in opposition.  

We the Living

S483-1.jpgItaly’s leader was the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.  Vittorio Mussolini, his son, was a film producer.  Along with a group of other film-makers, he had read the book We the Living by author Ayn Rand, which had been published in 1936.  

The book depicts the struggles of life under the Soviet Union’s oppressive Communist dictatorship, and was explicitly critical of that regime.  Vittorio and his group convinced his father and the Italian government censors that a movie version would be useful as propaganda against Italy’s wartime enemy.

The Movie

The book’s story was split into two separate movies:  Noi Vivi ("We Live") and Addio Kira ("Goodbye Kira").

Noi Vivi premiered in September of 1942.  That movie and the sequel Addio Kira were instant hits.  The three leading roles were played by three of Italy’s most popular actors.  The films were considered a grand-scale epic.  They were Italy’s most popular films in 1942.

But it soon became clear that the movies were so popular, not for being against the oppression of communism, but for being against the oppression of all tyranny – including that in Fascist Italy.

S483-3.jpgAs a result, the Fascists banned the films, and ordered every copy of the films destroyed.  

But one copy of the films was hidden in a film-maker’s basement.  If the ruse had been discovered, it would have meant his death.

That one copy remained hidden for twenty-five years, until its rediscovery in 1968.  The two Americans who had been searching for the films purchased them and brought them back to the U.S.

The restoration effort began soon after.  American film-maker Duncan Scott and We the Living’s author Ayn Rand went through the films, editing them frame-by-frame.  Most parts of the films stayed true to the book; those scenes which did not were cut.  The work continued after the author’s death in 1981, with an unrestored version completed in 1990.

The development of digital film-making has made possible a restoration of very high quality.  Scratches, spots, and other defects in the films’ original production were corrected and removed.

The result is a High-Definition version of We the Living, with English subtitles.

The first public screening was at the world-renowned Bologna Restored Films Festival in 2021.  

The new film has been submitted for showing at the Berlin Film Festival (the world’s biggest) in February 2023.  

Coming soon, to a theater near you

Look for We the Living to be in theaters and available on-demand in the U.S. in early 2023.

Modern-day Censors

The production and distribution of We the Living has met substantial resistance in Hollywood.  

Leftists in the film industry have thrown a number of roadblocks in the way of the film’s release.  They do not like what the film reveals about the consequences of their leftist ideology.

Similarly, the ideas dominant in We the Living do not match up with Cancel Culture thinking, and have met opposition there.

Those issues are making advertising, PR, and film distribution more difficult.

Despite that, look for the opportunity to see We the Living over the next several months.■

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