Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life is a two-and-one-half hour Oscar-nominated documentary written, produced, and directed by Michael Paxton. It offers an adoring look at the life and work of this controversial novelist and philosopher.
Alice Rosenbaum (she later took Ayn Rand as a stage name) was born and raised in Russia. She came to the United States in 1921 and eventually found work as a screenwriter in Hollywood. In the first of her four novels, We the Living, Rand showed her scorn for Russian collectivism and mysticism. The Fountainhead, on the other hand, lionized the rugged individualism that would become the linchpin of her philosophy of "objectivism."
Dr. Leonard Peikoff and other devotees of Rand appear in this documentary to defend her theories of rational self-interest and to offer insights into her relationships with her family and her devoted husband. Paxton's use of clips from Rand's interviews with Mike Wallace and Phil Donahue convey this shrewd and ideologically rigid woman's spirit and vision of life. Just before her death in 1982, she was actually proclaiming business as civilization's last best hope.