I make no attempt to hide the fact that I think Atlas Shrugged is one of the greatest novels of all time, and that Ayn Rand is one of the greatest philosophers in the history of mankind. When the recent film, Atlas Shrugged Part 1 came out to scathing reviews, the establishment found themselves attempting to deface the film at every turn. The reason for all the commotion is that Atlas Shrugged is essentially a philosophy that decertifies the altruistic tendencies of our modern society.
I thought the makers of the film version attempted a bold endeavor and everything was uphill for them. With the rights for the film being bounced between film icons like Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie who wanted to make a film version, it was obvious that traditional Hollywood could not get their minds around a film version of the massive book that is Atlas Shrugged. After much trial and tribulation, it was decided to proceed to film the movie in a three-part series with Part 1 coming out on April 15th 2011 with John Aglialoro producing assisted by a team of very dedicated Ayn Rand fans. What resulted was an entertaining film that left people traditionally viewing characters of business as villains lost to articulate their feelings, and wanting to lash out at the movie for challenging their stereotypes. Aglialoro had committed to making all three films, but after taking a beating on the first one, he has wisely sought to take his time and pull in even more talent for the very challenging 2nd and 3rd films.
I am pleased to have received in my email box yesterday a notice from the producers that they are proceeding now with Part 2 and have obtained the additional talent of Duncan Scott who worked on Ayn Rand’s We the Living film. Part 2 is set to be released in October 2012 amidst the presidential election which will be appropriate, and the team has released this teaser trailer to entice the legions of hungry fans.
The film versions of Atlas Shrugged are caught between a rock and a hard place. Without the top line talent of the Steven Spielberg’s or George Clooney’s of the world, Hollywood will of course look down its nose at the production values of these films. The greatest film makers in our modern times are unfortunately against everything that Atlas Shrugged is for, so top-level talent is hard to come by for an epic film like this. On the other hand, lovers of the book like me will undoubtedly feel frustration because there is no way to put into a movie the depth that a book like Atlas Shrugged can provide. But that’s ok, because the films serve as completely adequate cliff notes versions of the book and are a wonderful way to introduce the work of Ayn Rand to an audience that may not have heard about her before.
Atlas Shrugged whether we are talking about the book or the movies is not a simple work of just a story intended to entertain. Atlas Shrugged is a work of philosophy. As a work of philosophy it is OK to not have all the usual Hollywood flare, because it’s the meaning of the work that is important. And the film makers have done well to install that philosophy into the movie as seen in the clips below where scenes from the first film are broke down and analyzed for their meaning.
I ran into Ayn Rand for the first time while reading the book Dutch by Edmond Morris. Morris made a mention about the life and times of Ronald Reagan during the 50’s and Ayn Rand’s ubermensch novels were best sellers then. Well the word ubermensch means in German overman which is a concept Nietzsche talked about extensively in Thus Spoke Zarathustra so Morris’s choice of words to describe Ayn Rand sparked my interest. I think he meant it in a derogatory way. But if the progressives didn’t like her, there was a sure bet that I would so I checked out Ayn Rand and discovered that she had arrived at many of the same conclusions about life as I did. Reading her was an affirmation that many of my thoughts were not wrong, and better yet, she had made predictions a half a century earlier that were coming true now. So her work was a validation that I had been on the correct path all along.
The troubling aspect however was that I had always read a lot, and it wasn’t until my upper 30’s that I discovered this very prolific writer, even when that writer was essentially a carbon copy to the type of material that I enjoy reading and writing myself. That is because the work of Ayn Rand had been purposely kept from the public mind for the most part by the kinds of progressive groups who are the villains of Atlas Shrugged in a literal sense.
Over Christmas 2011 my father-in-law who is also a prolific reader, and a school teacher who holds a master’s degree in geology had told me about this great new movie called Atlas Shrugged over dinner. I stared open-mouthed at him as he went on and on about how much he loved the film. I couldn’t believe that he had never heard of the book. After all, he was in high school when the book came out, so I would have thought that at some point he would have run into the material.
He assured me that he had not, and he said the movie made him want to read the book and he planned to get the novel the next time he was at a book store. I told him to wait a moment, that I’d be right back. I excused myself from the dinner table and left my family sitting there while I got into the car and drove down to the local Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Louisville. Not wanting my food to get cold, I told the girl at the help counter, “I have an emergency; my father-in-law has never read Atlas Shrugged. I need a copy of it right now so I can rectify that situation.” She smiled and said that has been happening a lot lately, since the movie had come out. People were pouring into the book store and demanding Ayn Rand’s works! I gave my father-in-law Atlas Shrugged at the dinner table when I returned and his smile was from ear to ear as he held it in his hands as though he possessed magic between his finger tips.
That is why the movies are so important, because our society has had this fantastic work by Ayn Rand covered up to some extent for 50 years. Apparently some literature classes in high schools and colleges have exposed students to Atlas Shrugged, but for the most part the literary classic has been discouraged by progressive groups, and now that the movies are starting to be made, the films are igniting curiosity into actually reading Atlas Shrugged so that more of the philosophy can be absorbed in the written word than could ever be shown on the silver screen.
To me a film is successful if it entertains first, and then leaves the viewer hungry for more information at the conclusion. And for those who do not know the work of Atlas Shrugged these films are introducing millions upon millions of people to a whole new way of thinking that is uniquely American, and I think it’s absolutely wonderful! So the news that the producers have managed to scrape together the money and talent to produce the second film is great news and I will be a tremendous advocate helping wherever I can so that more and more people will be exposed to the wonderful philosophy of Ayn Rand which is virtually inseparable from my own philosophy. For more information on Part 2, there is a new website that let fans follow the progress to its completion and release in October.
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