PASSION OF AYN RAND, THE (TV)

Summary

This made-for-television movie, based on the book by Barbara Branden, tells the story of the love affair between novelist and objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden, Barbara's husband. The film begins on March 8, 1982, as a long line forms outside a New York City funeral parlor as fans pay their respects to the author of "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged." Among the crowd is Barbara, Ayn's former best friend who "loved her." The narrative flashes back to Los Angeles in 1951 as Nathaniel and Barbara arrive at the house of Ayn and her husband, Frank O'Connor. There, Nathaniel tries to discuss Ayn's philosophy, but she is more interested in his principles. Driving home, Nathaniel and Barbara are giddy at having spent the whole night talking to Ayn. Later, before a party, Barbara speaks with Ayn about her confusion in her love for Nathaniel, stating she has never had sex with him. At the party, Nathaniel talks about his burgeoning relationship with Ayn to screenwriter Alfred, then learns of her writing a new book, "Atlas Shrugged." Later, Alfred is chastised by Rand for simply being an "employee" of the studios. After Alfred has left, Rand tells Nathaniel and Barbara how Alfred is conflicted between his needs and his values. Then, Nathaniel asks if he may read the "Atlas Shrugged" manuscript, which Ayn allows. That night, Nathaniel and Barbara finally make love. Eventually, Barbara and Nathaniel marry, with Ayn and Frank as matron of honor and best man. At the reception, Ayn speaks with Nathaniel about all the "new" things in his life as the couple prepares to head to New York. Surprisingly, Ayn is sad to see Nathaniel -- now her protŽgŽ -- leaving town. Soon, Ayn convinces Frank that she can no longer work in Los Angeles and that they must move to New York. The narrative picks up in New York three months later, as Barbara works to improve her relationship with Nathaniel. The day Ayn and Frank arrive in town, Nathaniel and Barbara discuss Ayn's claims to be neither liberal nor conservative, but purely a "radical capitalist." Ayn and Nathaniel privately discuss their relationships with their spouses. That night, in bed, Nathaniel wonders if Barbara loves him, thinking that she doesn't "show it." Barbara wants to know what Nathaniel was speaking with Ayn about earlier, wondering if he discussed their marital and sexual problems. Later, at an intellectual gathering, Ayn speaks about "self-interest" as Barbara tries to get through to a depressed Frank about taking charge of his life. One day, after Frank insists she take a break from work, the two couples head to the country and go ice skating. There, while Frank and Barbara skate, Ayn worries that she may never finish "Atlas Shrugged" as Nathaniel warns against doubting herself. Ayn discusses how she always has known that Nathaniel is a genius, but Barbara feels that she may be losing her husband. Later that night, Barbara accuses Nathaniel and Ayn of being in love, something he denies. Ayn and Frank happen to overhear the conversation. Ayn and Nathaniel subsequently meet to discuss the situation, and Nathaniel reveals that he loves her. Soon, the two have begun an affair, though Ayn feels that they must discuss an arrangement with Barbara and Frank. Frank refuses to accept the situation, finding it to be "insanity." Later, Frank tells Barbara how he met Ayn and what their future holds. Eventually, Barbara and Frank agree to Ayn and Nathaniel's arrangement. The affair sparks Ayn's creativity, as she finally moves toward finishing "Atlas Shrugged." One day, in a weekly discussion group, Ayn and Nathaniel dominate, criticizing regular member Caroline for always trying to please others. Their speech soon turns on Barbara, leading her to have an anxiety attack. Later, while in bed, Ayn wonders aloud to Nathaniel if they are "disembodied minds." Then, Barbara calls Ayn, distressed and claiming she can't see, but Ayn harshly dismisses her. That night, Nathaniel returns home to find Barbara asleep, having been brought home by Richard Folger, a trumpeter she met at a restaurant. The next day, Nathaniel further counsels Caroline, and sparks begin to fly between the two. Later, when Nathaniel visits Ayn, she proclaims that she has finally finished "Atlas Shrugged" after twelve years. One night, Ayn and Frank go out to a fancy dinner to celebrate, with Frank giving his wife some "Atlas Shrugged" inspired artwork. Ayn claims it will now be the cover of her book. However, only later is it revealed that Frank set up a surprise party for Ayn, angering her. At the party, Nathaniel makes a toast to Ayn, before she offers some words, saying that she doesn't think she will be influential until she is dead. Later, Nathaniel finds Frank passed out, drunk on cognac. Nathaniel continues his therapy with Caroline, who now claims to have fallen in love with him. Nathaniel feels the same way and an affair begins. Meanwhile, Richard begins pursuing Barbara. With the release of "Atlas Shrugged," Ayn begins making media appearances, defending her philosophy though it pains her to have to deal with the harsh criticism of "Atlas." Soon, Nathaniel and Barbara give speeches defending Ayn's work. At one, Barbara notices Nathaniel flirting with Caroline. Thus, Barbara decides to begin an affair with Richard. Barbara asks Nathaniel if she can have her own arrangement with Richard, but Nathaniel says she is degrading herself. Barbara also reveals that she knows about Nathaniel's relationship with Caroline, which he denies. Meanwhile, Caroline feels that Nathaniel should tell Ayn about their relationship, but he feels he can't jeopardize his work at the institute with Ayn. In 1964, in Los Angeles, Ayn gives a speech where she criticizes the sentiments of John F. Kennedy, to some consternation from the audience. Later, at dinner with Nathaniel, Ayn talks about having missed him, thinking things have changed between them. Nathaniel blames it on his own marriage falling apart, draining everything in him. One day, sick of hearing himself lie, Nathaniel admits his relationship with Caroline to Barbara, who says she wants a divorce. Later, Barbara visits Ayn, first stopping to talk with Frank, now deep into his painting. Barbara counsels a troubled Ayn about Nathaniel's behavior before telling of his affair with Caroline. Ayn interrupts a speech of Nathaniel's to tell him he has "thrown away" everything in his cruel treatment of her. Ayn screams at Nathaniel that she is cutting him completely out of her life. Returning to his speech, Nathaniel tells his shocked audience that he has failed to practice the principles that he teaches and that he has just severed his relationship with Ayn. Weeks later, Ayn goes into a rage upon hearing that Nathaniel is writing a book on objectivism. Barbara then parts ways with Ayn, feeling that Ayn's intended destruction of Nathaniel is too much. In Los Angeles in 1981, an aged Ayn gives a lecture and looks into the audience when addressing the meaning of love, thinking she sees Nathaniel, then realizing she was dreaming. A year later, Barbara puts flowers on the graves of Ayn and Frank as Richard silently waits for her.

Details

  • NETWORK: Showtime
  • DATE: May 30, 1999 Sunday 8:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:44:38
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:58783
  • GENRE: Drama
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Drama
  • SERIES RUN: Showtime - TV, 1999
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

    • Irwin Meyer … Executive Producer
    • Marilyn Lewis … Executive Producer
    • Steven Hewitt … Co-Executive Producer
    • Barry Krost … Co-Executive Producer
    • Doug Chapin … Co-Executive Producer
    • Peter Crane … Producer
    • Linda Curran Wexelblatt … Producer
    • Martin Walters … Production (Misc.), Line Producer
    • Spencer Proffer … Production (Misc.), Supervising Music Producer
    • Christopher Menaul … Director
    • Howard Korder … Writer
    • Mary Gallagher … Writer
    • Barbara Branden … Based on the book by
    • Jeff Beal … Music by
    • Helen Mirren … Cast, Ayn Rand
    • Eric Stoltz … Cast, Nathaniel Branden
    • Julie Delpy … Cast, Barbara Branden
    • Peter Fonda … Cast, Frank O'Connor
    • Tom McCamus … Cast, Richard Folger
    • Sybil Temchen … Cast, Caroline
    • Don McKellar … Cast, Alfred
    • David Ferry … Cast, Interviewer
    • Donald Carrier … Cast, David
    • Hamish McEwan … Cast, Henry
    • Elyssa Livergant … Cast, Naomi
    • Chris Marren … Cast, Aaron
    • Jennifer Gould … Cast, Janet
    • Robert Thomas … Cast, Security Guard
    • John Lefebvre … Cast, Funeral Director
    • Katherine Trowell … Cast, Woman at Funeral
    • Stan Coles … Cast, Judge
    • Rene Lemieux … Cast, Maitre d'
    • D'Arcy Smith … Cast, Young Man
    • Andrew Dolha … Cast, Wise-ass Man
    • Tomas Chovanec … Cast, Student #1
    • Daniel Enright … Cast, Waiter
    • Patrick Garrow … Cast, Student #2
    • Aviva Armour … Cast, Student #3
    • Tara Meyer … Cast, Student #4
    • Di Zio, Sergio … Cast, Student #5
    • Dom Fiore … Cast, Businessman
    • John F. Kennedy