Betsy Speicher

Atlas Shrugged: Part I (2011)

31 posts in this topic

I enjoyed the movie very much. The main storyline of the book was demonstrated, although it could have been stronger in that respect. But there was some artistic flaws that could have been significantly improved. I don't want to give away spoilers, so those interested should read the current issue of The Objective Standard, which has a very good review of the movie.

I'm already looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

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I liked it too! I was particularly taken with the acting of the men playing Wyatt and Rearden, and I fell for Dagny all over again :) . I even cried a little bit at one point, which is a great compliment to the picture. In terms of exposing audiences to a different kind of universe and to a new and interesting way of approaching life, I think it's quite well done.

On the down side, I thought some of the interactions were too crammed with dialogue -- as though they were trying to put too much into too short a time. Also, there is a little bit of CGI which took me out of a moment, regrettably. These are small issues, though, compared to what it got right -- this movie is a wonderful introduction to Ayn Rand and I'm relieved and happy that it was made :).

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Considering all sorts of bad things that could have happened with the making of this movie, I was very pleased with what was made. I would recommend this movie without hesitation as I was happily surprised with it.

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Yesterday, Mike Rosen, who is a local conservative talk show host in Denver, interviewed Harmon Kaslow, one of the producers of the Atlas Shrugged movie. The interview is worth listening to and can be found here. Mike Rosen, while not an Objectivist, is very sympathetic to Objectivism and has fairly regularly had people from ARI on his show.

Among the highlights of the interview are guaranteeee that parts 2 and 3 will be made and that they are actually considering doing a miniseries that includes every scene from the book, once the three movies are complete. I was happily shocked at hearing this (it comes near the end of the interview, which last 30+ minutes).

Right now you don't have to register to listen to the interview, but that may change as the days pass. Even if that happens, it's quite easy to register.

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Among the highlights of the interview are [...] they are actually considering doing a miniseries that includes every scene from the book, once the three movies are complete.

This is the most troubling news I've heard since talk of this miscarriage of a movie began last year. These people are bent on cornering the screen adaptations. I will never accept such shoddiness.

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Among the highlights of the interview are [...] they are actually considering doing a miniseries that includes every scene from the book, once the three movies are complete.

This is the most troubling news I've heard since talk of this miscarriage of a movie began last year. These people are bent on cornering the screen adaptations. I will never accept such shoddiness.

Good point. I agree.

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Among the highlights of the interview are [...] they are actually considering doing a miniseries that includes every scene from the book, once the three movies are complete.

This is the most troubling news I've heard since talk of this miscarriage of a movie began last year. These people are bent on cornering the screen adaptations. I will never accept such shoddiness.

Good point. I agree.

I'm not sure if you listened to the interview, but my recollection is that this news came in response to a caller who rightly pointed out that the movie provided no context for understanding Rearden's life (or any other character's life, for that matter). The caller considered this a significant weakness in the movie, and I agree. Kaslow agreed, too, and indicated that the next two parts will address some of that, but that the miniseries would be created to thoroughly recreate the book. I took that as good news because of the deficit(s) I see the first movie as having.

In that regard, I share a number of the criticisms of the movie on other threads here and in the review on TOS. I might list those in a separate post, but suffice it to say that even with low expectations I was left disappointed. The movie had good moments or scenes, but I have no doubt something much better could have been produced if there had been more time, money, and thought put into it. That being said, within the strict context of what was involved (rather than what could or should have been), I can appreciate the product in some ways.

You make an interesting point about cornering the screen adaptations. Some questions that occurred to me yesterday after seeing the movie were what would happen if parts 2 and 3 are not made?; would someone at some point down the road try to make another version of the whole book (be it in a trilogy or miniseries)?; would this first attempt help or hinder that?; how long would it be before something like that happened? And so forth.

It appears that the movie has had the desired effect of increasing book sales (although my understanding is that AS sales have been increasing for a couple years anyway). However, if I understand Mercury's point, could the group currently involved in making these movies (or a miniseries) end up hurting either future movie-makers or interest in the book if they produce shoddy work? That's the question that I see arising from your comment Mercury; do I understand that correctly?

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Among the highlights of the interview are [...] they are actually considering doing a miniseries that includes every scene from the book, once the three movies are complete.

This is the most troubling news I've heard since talk of this miscarriage of a movie began last year. These people are bent on cornering the screen adaptations. I will never accept such shoddiness.

Good point. I agree.

I'm not sure if you listened to the interview, but my recollection is that this news came in response to a caller who rightly pointed out that the movie provided no context for understanding Rearden's life (or any other character's life, for that matter). The caller considered this a significant weakness in the movie, and I agree. Kaslow agreed, too, and indicated that the next two parts will address some of that, but that the miniseries would be created to thoroughly recreate the book. I took that as good news because of the deficit(s) I see the first movie as having.

In that regard, I share a number of the criticisms of the movie on other threads here and in the review on TOS. I might list those in a separate post, but suffice it to say that even with low expectations I was left disappointed. The movie had good moments or scenes, but I have no doubt something much better could have been produced if there had been more time, money, and thought put into it. That being said, within the strict context of what was involved (rather than what could or should have been), I can appreciate the product in some ways.

You make an interesting point about cornering the screen adaptations. Some questions that occurred to me yesterday after seeing the movie were what would happen if parts 2 and 3 are not made?; would someone at some point down the road try to make another version of the whole book (be it in a trilogy or miniseries)?; would this first attempt help or hinder that?; how long would it be before something like that happened? And so forth.

It appears that the movie has had the desired effect of increasing book sales (although my understanding is that AS sales have been increasing for a couple years anyway). However, if I understand Mercury's point, could the group currently involved in making these movies (or a miniseries) end up hurting either future movie-makers or interest in the book if they produce shoddy work? That's the question that I see arising from your comment Mercury; do I understand that correctly?

You understand me correctly, Scott. If there is low interest in this Part 1 and the trilogy is abandoned, there is the possibility of a great series or miniseries being produced at some point by a serious team of esthetic visionaries.

I am very firmly convinced that if an unflinchingly Romanticist TV [mini]series is shot with cinematic production values, we could have Atlas Shrugged - book and [mini]series - selling like sliced bread for the next twenty years. Objectivists would be swamped with offers from media outlets, universities, and the general public to explain the philosophy. We would even have trouble keeping up with the tide of opinion. The power of the screen is not to be underestimated. I have read people writing "It's only a movie," which I find a most ignorant statement. People watch movies and series they love over and over again. Atlas could easily be that movie, and a life-changing experience to boot. If America's (and the world's) parents resist the miniseries, their children and grandchildren will not be able to.

If, however, Aglialoro or his team is involved in any future Atlas Shrugged adaptations, we will be stuck with what they've put out there for a long, long time.

I recognize that book sales spiked a little while the movie was being promoted by the radio and TV talk show hosts, but I knew the spike would be tepid. As you noted, sales had been up recently anyway. And, as I pointed out elsewhere, the book has always been a bestseller, so book sales are not by themselves any measure of how many people will seriously take up the philosophy.

What we "need" is to maintain a position of psychological and moral strength. The quality work produced by Ayn Rand and the best Objectivist scholars has always been "blue-chip." The level of esthetic and philosophic integrity has afforded Objectivists tremendous moral power. A shoddy movie or miniseries would saddle the philosophy with an unworthy artifact we would need to explain to newcomers. The heroes of Atlas Shrugged, together, pack more power than fifty Robin Hoods, Edmond Dantes, Zorros, Valjeans, Bruce Waynes, Joans of Arc, and Cyranos. We should not have to bend over backwards to make people watch a movie of the Greatest Story Ever Told.

I'm in a hurry, so I can't say much more. I've written quite a bit about this on Facebook, and would have to assemble all my posts there to make complete sense of my position. But, let me just say that I hope Parts 2 and 3 are never made. For whatever reasons, the rushed production was pragmatic, and I look forward to a real mind who will make the lush, exciting miniseries titled Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Aglialoro should accept the reality of his limitations and be gracious with the rights.

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I'm afraid that having shot a movie of Atlas before the option to do so expired, Aglioloro gained all the film rights for any future versions of the book and the Estate has nothing more to say about it. It is similar to the way that Warner Brothers had the film rights to The Fountainhead which were eventually sold and ended up owned by Ted Turner.

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I enjoyed the movie. I took my wife on opening night. She has not read the book. I had to lean over and explain some parts to her as we watched. A couple of times I found myself saying, "This next scene is very powerful"...and the scene wasn't in the movie. I think that is to be expected going to this media. But, the ticket price was money well spent. I took a moment to look around at the other people in the theater. Most looked like me: clean-cut, college educated, 30 to 60 years old. There were also a few stunning beauties, including my wife.

Just this morning I had a coworker come by and inquire about borrowing my copy of Atlas Shrugged. It sits on my shelf by my desk. When he expressed some concern about its girth I suggested he could go the easy route and see the movie. But, as I warned, there is a lot of good stuff missing in the movie. I just really enjoyed the book.

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I am sitting in a theater watching the credits run for Atlas Shrugged.

It was a disaster.

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Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

Not that it matters.

I'm home now, so I'll add some brief remarks:

Bad script. Bad acting. Bad CGI. Bad lighting. Bad choices for adaptation to film. With almost no exceptions, bad casting. Bad, bad, bad.

I tried to watch the movie both as someone who knows nothing of the book, and as myself, someone who has read the book at least a dozen times (since the first time in 1998).

Obviously it was difficult to get past my knowledge of the book for the former, but I think I managed it well enough. If the film had been my first encounter with the story, I would have had no idea what was going on. The story as presented is disjointed, murky, and foreign. Characters appear and disappear seemingly at random, or their names are dropped for no apparent purpose. No coherent reasons are given for the vanishing businessmen, nor for why their vanishing matters. The philosophical bases for both the good and evil characters are entirely missing, even by implication. There is little to no exposition whether spoken or shown, nor was any narrative advanced by the dialog. As a film taken solely on its own merits, it's terrible.

Now, for someone who knows the book as well as I do, the movie was perhaps even more disappointing. All the above still applies, and is amplified by knowing what to expect. Nearly every character neither looks nor acts as described in the book (although the complaint about their look may be my personal prejudice). Why does Francisco talk to Hank at the party? Why do Dagny and Hank suddenly sleep together? Who is Owen Kellogg and why does he matter? What the hell is the State Science Institute and does the guy Dagny talks to there have any significance, or even a name? How about the guy who confronts Hank about the rights to Rearden Metal - who is he and what does he have to do with anything? Why is the Rio Norte line, so small a portion of the Taggart system on the visible maps, so important? Why is there no indication before he has to sell them (or give them away, as it appeared) that Rearden owns more than one business? Who is Paul Larkin and what possible reason should anyone have for caring about him? Who cares about Midas Mulligan? (His story told in background noise while other characters are having a conversation, thus easily missed.) The complaining questions could go on and on and on.

The only characters I found acceptable were Hank Rearden, Orren Boyle, and maybe Philip Rearden, Gwen Ives, and the courteous, stone-faced Indian serving dinner at Ellis Wyatt's house. Yes, that last was on screen only in the background and only for a few seconds, but that still makes him better than nearly all the others - at least he was true to the book. As for Philip, in the scene where he asks Hank for the donation he's rather good, but at the party, when James Taggart listens to his rant and asks "Who are you?" I was wondering the same thing. The problems with the characters is not necessarily a reflection of acting skill, but as one reviewer said, it seemed as though there had been no rehearsal at all. Everything looked like a first take, and the actors appeared not to understand their characters or the story, let alone the philosophy, in the slightest. Worst of all was Dagny, who was so other than the incredible character Ayn Rand wrote as to be all but unrecognizable.

My two favorite books in the world are The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. I stopped counting how many times I've read LOTR at 40, and the only reason AS doesn't have the same numbers is that I've been reading the former for over 20 more years. I adore the LOTR films, despite their differences from the book. I was truly hoping to adore the film version of Atlas, and my disappointment is immense.

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Piz - While I enjoyed the movie I also can't disagree with you on your points.

I was saddened that this great book didn't get a big ticket, big budget movie. I think that is due to the message flying in the face of liberal Hollywood.

I had surgery today so if none of this makes sense, no worries. Hehe...

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While I enjoyed the movie overall, it would certainly be a disappointment if you went in expecting it to be anything close to an ideal film adaptation of the novel. I was already aware from the rushed production that it was unlikely to be some sort of cinematic triumph. However, the plot of the first third of the book was for the most part well-preserved and most of the major themes and explications were included, albeit in a frenzied, sometimes simplistic manner. It did seem that someone unfamiliar with the story might struggle to keep up if not necessarily so, but it's hard to be sure about that on one viewing.

The development of the relationship between Dagny and Hank was poorly done. This may have been due to time or resource limitations or lack of skill, I don't know, but it lacked nearly all the depth of feeling and logical progression that the novel contained. The actress who played Dagny was mediocre, in my opinion. Some scenes she had presence; in others she became unfittingly ancillary.

I doubt there is a filmmaker alive who could have done the novel justice under the constraints with which the adaptation was made, although it certainly could have been better. Still, it maintained many of the aspects of the original to make it both an enjoyable and thought-provoking movie that triumphs reason and the individual. I think most here would find it extremely unlikely any film adaptation could ever surpass the novel Atlas Shrugged, but I do hope there will be another attempt at some point in my life by more capable and prepared hands. In conclusion, it was a decent attempt, given the circumstances.

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I received e-mail notification this week, of the movie's release on DVD, in 4 different editions. Here are the comments I posted on Facebook, exactly as I wrote them while reading through the descriptions:

The badly flawed ATLAS SHRUGGED - PART I movie is scheduled for release on DVD this Nov. 8. Four different versions are planned, each containing the same movie footage but varying in the extras offered:

(1) for the truly sick and twisted who hate Ayn Rand, there is the so-called "Reason" edition, featuring comments by Nathaniel Branden, a former associate of hers who got the boot for massive (and self-admitted) dishonesty;

(2) for the ethically challenged who hate integrity and want to have their cake and eat it too, there's the "Atlas Society" edition, featuring comments by David Kelley, a man who wants to water down Miss Rand's philosophy to make it kinder and gentler enough to tolerate even Marxists;

(3) for the poor philistines who don't see or care about the difference between good writing and bad, there's the "Special Edition" featuring comments from the incompetent screenwriter, as well as the producer and director; and

(4) there's a "Freedomworks" edition released in conjunction with Freedomworks, a Tea Party organization that helped promote the movie and of whom I know nothing negative.

I would rather die than order (1) or (2). I still believe the screenwriter should be horsewhipped for discarding Miss Rand's eloquent words for his own; so I shall not order (3). In spite of my reservations about the movie's major flaws, I did enjoy everything in it that they DIDN'T change -- so I shall probably order (4), when the time comes.

DAMN THE FILTHY BASTARDS -- I just scrolled down and saw they DARE to offer comments on version (1) by Barbara Branden -- the foul-souled Lilian Rearden wannabe who's made a sick, pathetic career out of slandering Miss Rand! She hates Ayn Rand the way Hitler hated Jews. THAT CROSSES THE LINE. There is no way, now, I can be willing to deal with such people.

I will WAIT until used copies show up on Ebay, and buy then.

I believe NO ONE who values Miss Rand or her work can forgive the way they are insulting her.

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Thanks Bill for your comments. As a non-American (thus could not see the movie) not much aware of Ayn Rand's background this is helping me choose the right copy.

Unlike you I am too impatient and will order it new, though.

I can think of one good reason to order new: to boost sales numbers, and show the critics just how wrong they are. It is insane that the movie is 13% Fresh on Rottentomatoes when almost all Audience reviews are 4.5 or 5* and the few negative (and zero star) ones are along the lines of "if you watch this you are a fascist". At war, one cannot choose one's allies and better a flawed movie than no movie!

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... (3) for the poor philistines who don't see or care about the difference between good writing and bad, there's the "Special Edition" featuring comments from the incompetent screenwriter, as well as the producer and director; ...

... I still believe the screenwriter should be horsewhipped for discarding Miss Rand's eloquent words for his own; so I shall not order (3)....

In spite of my reservations about the movie's major flaws, I did enjoy everything in it that they DIDN'T change --

I would think that (3) would be more informative if only to learn how the people who made the movie describe what they intended to do and how they went about it. But there are several such interviews available online and maybe the DVD doesn't add to that.

(4) there's a "Freedomworks" edition released in conjunction with Freedomworks, a Tea Party organization that helped promote the movie and of whom I know nothing negative.

... so I shall probably order (4), when the time comes.

(4) sounds like it could be yet another testimonial to amazement over Ayn Rand's "predictions" with little additional understanding and not especially informative, but you could try looking them up on the web to see what kinds of things they are saying.

... I just scrolled down and saw they DARE to offer comments on version (1) by Barbara Branden -- the foul-souled Lilian Rearden wannabe who's made a sick, pathetic career out of slandering Miss Rand! She hates Ayn Rand the way Hitler hated Jews. THAT CROSSES THE LINE. There is no way, now, I can be willing to deal with such people.

Her own movie claiming to be autobiographical was much, much worse than the worst aspects you can find in Atlas Shrugged Part I, but including her in the DVD commentary doesn't change the nature of version (1) -- Nathaniel Branden has made such a project out of smearing Ayn Rand, too, that it couldn't sink any lower by including her.

But I don't know that Barbara Branden hates Ayn Rand like Hitler hated Jews -- Lillian Rearden didn't have the values to truly hate anything amidst the nonstop sneering. Barbara Branden exploits Ayn Rand for attention-seeking, knowing that the only thing in her own life that ever amounted to anything was knowing Ayn Rand.

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As a non-American (thus could not see the movie) not much aware of Ayn Rand's background this is helping me choose the right copy.

They announced on Sept. 13 that all the DVD's are unrestricted by national region:

Region Free DVDs

Some great news for our International friends - all Atlas Shrugged Special Edition DVDs will now be "Region Free" with the ability to be played in any locale... on any player. And yes, almost all DVD players sold in PAL countries are capable of playing both NTSC and PAL discs.

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Fantastic. I haven't encountered this problem in 2 years but you remind me how painful it is when you pick up a DVD not sold in your region and it just won't play...

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I will not forgive how this movie portrayed my favorite Atlas Shrugged character -- Francisco D'Anonia. The way the movie had him, he looked like a Colombian drug lord on vacation in Philadelphia. Hiss! Boo! Rats!

ruveyn

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I like the comments, Bill. I'm going to acquire this DVD (probably version 4 per Bill's suggestion) and host a BBQ/viewing for a couple friends (including my son's teacher, who was named after Ayn Rand).

I'm torn about this movie. I think it was a marginal product with a "made-for-tv" feel. But, I love the material and story, of course. However, I felt that they really left out some key, yet subtle parts that I was looking forward to seeing. Since this movie first came out I find myself stupified that there couldn't have been a big-budget effort for this story. The hatred that the liberal elite have for it must be very deep and institutionalized. That's the only explanation I can think of.

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From the scene where Lilian Rearden greets Dagny Taggart:

L: Who are you wearing?

D: Lenin couture.

L: I have often said that he is someone who should come back into fashion, and here you are.

What was that?!

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Surprise--or perhaps not really. What could you expect, if you gave a tribe of monkeys the rights to Shakespeare's plays?

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/atlas-shrugged-film-producers-replacing-100-000-dvd-213051848.html

‘Atlas Shrugged’ film producers replacing 100,000 DVD’s after mischaracterizing Ayn Rand’s novel

The company behind the film
is replacing 100,000 title sheets from the film's newly released DVD and Blue Ray versions because the copy writer incorrectly described the late Ayn Rand's 1957 novel,
Atlas Shrugged,
as a story of "self-sacrifice."

Put simply, that's like calling Michael Moore a tea partier.

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Is the Paul Larkin role a deliberate pan on the Woody Allen role in "The Front"? The resemblance and the juxtaposition can't be an accident.

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