Based (unauthorised) on Ayn Rand's first, partly autobiographical novel, this was banned by the Fascist authorities, who disapproved of its anti-totalitarian stance. It was originally prepared for release in two parts, running 270 minutes in all; the present version was re-edited in 1986 under the supervision of Rand's attorneys. The setting is post-revolutionary Russia, where 18-year-old Kira (Valli) and her family oppose the new order. Her ambitions for further education and a career as an engineer are disrupted - and the seeds for disaster sown - when two very different men fall in love with her: a former aristocrat on the run from the secret police (Brazzi), and a Party official committed to Communist ideals (Giachetti). Giuseppe Caracciolo's exquisite cinematography sets up a brooding, melodramatic atmosphere, and as Valli's and Brazzi's eyes sparkle into the lens, it's hard not to feel soppily sympathetic toward their cause. This is intended, of course. The romantic triangle defines the political debate (as it did in Senso, but with far more passion). Still, there is a luminous quality to the lead performances which lifts some of the weightier passages.