On a very wet Saturday afternoon, 35 intrepid fans braved a Delhi downpour to make it to the screening of Ayn Rand's film classic "We The Living" at the NCUI auditorium. Projected on a large screen with crystal clear sound and easily read sub-titles, the film proved to be a captivating and truly immersive experience for each and every member of the audience, despite a run-time of nearly 3 hours.
The chemistry of the lead pair, the emotional roller-coaster as the lives of Kira and Leo are torn asunder, the abject destruction of Andrei as he learns the truth about Kira - each had such an impact that by the end of the film quite a few handkerchiefs were in evidence!
After a break for tea and snacks - and some time to recover from the drama of the film - the group reassembled for what turned out to be the highlight of the evening: a live session on Skype with Duncan Scott, who is the producer and editor of the reconstructed film!
Mr. Scott had very graciously agreed to be ready for the chat at 7 a.m. at his home in California, and he gave nearly an hour of his time for what proved to be a fascinating discussion. He spoke at length about how at age 21, as a young film-student, he had offered his services to the Mark and Erika Holzers, who were Ayn Rand's lawyers, for re-editing this lost classic. Mr Scott credited the Holzers for rediscovering the film ,without whose persistence the film may have been lost forever.
That was the beginning of a fascinating journey as a four hour film had to be edited down to three hours in order to enable its release in theaters. Bits of propaganda inserted by the fascist government in Italy back in 1942 was easy to eliminate. To remove the sub-plots was trickier. The biggest challenge was to 'create' scenes from within the existing footage and re-record dialogues that were just not there in the original film, but were critical for the story!
Beyond the film, the discussion veered to how the characters in 'We The Living' were precursors to those in Ayn Rand's later novels; how the fact that the film was made in Italy, where they filmed the story as they would any opera, resulted in a strong and passionate drama - unlike the outcome in the film version of 'The Fountainhead'; how the film version of "Atlas Shrugged", which is reportedly under production now, is likely to turn out, and so on.
Finally, on pain of being thrown out of the hall, the session had to end. Mr. Scott re-iterated his offer of supplying the DVD of the film at a specially discounted rate of $25 to the audience in India. We thanked him for the offer and for his time and hoped that we could have more sessions like this in other cities in India.
[Liberty Institute has arranged for ten copies of the DVD set of 'We The Living', which comes with deleted scenes and some interviews on an additional disc. Those interested in owning the set can place their order by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org]