Lately my husband has experienced a renewed (morbid?) interest in Ayn Rand. Like nearly everyone else in the universe, we each read one of her ponderous novels in high school (Atlas Shrugged in both of our cases), but wouldn’t be caught dead with her work on our adult book shelves. However my husband came across an old copy in someone else’s classroom at work and soon he was sucked in.
I don’t know what it is about Rand’s books that captivate the average 17-year-old – maybe it’s that Objectivism seems to cut against everything we learn from a young age about sharing and the ultimate good of putting others before oneself. As flawed a philosopher as she is, I do appreciate where she was coming from (literally – i.e. fleeing during the Russian revolution of 1917) and I was utterly fascinated by the movie we watched last night, The Passion of Ayn Rand.
Helen Mirren, half-Russian fox that she is, is one of the top reasons for watching, (even if in real life she has some questionable views on rape and coke ). The totally effed up love quadrangle between Rand, her husband Frank O’Connor, Rand’s protégé Nathaniel Branden, and Branden’s wife Barbara (who wrote the book upon which the movie is based) is another. I try to see public figures’ sex lives for what they are – namely private and ultimately separate from their public persona and deeds – but Rand and Branden used the logic of their budding philosophy to influence their spouses into accepting their affair. In the film, Rand tells her husband and Barbara Branden that “lesser people” wouldn’t be able to accept their illicit arrangement.
Whether you love her or hate her, there is enough soap opera goodness in The Passion of Ayn Rand to keep anyone transfixed. Oh, and it came out in 1999, so it’s readily available on Netflix.