Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On Atlas Shrugged: The Movie

I've read the book a couple times. Good story. Love the theme. Memorable lines. Powerful scenes that stick with you after you've set the book down.

So they've FINALLY made a movie out of it:

[YouTube direct link]

The main worry I see in the comments at the various places I've seen the video posted is that they've "rewritten the story".

I would hope so. This isn't a book, people. It's a movie. It's a visual medium, which puts VERY different constraints on how a story can and should be told.

There's also complaints that "it looks low budget". So? This story isn't about the scenery. It's about character and dialogue, and how these combine to move the plot and present the theme. How much do you think it cost to make "Validation"?

All I'm really hoping for with this movie is that it will quote generously from the memorable lines and transition relatively smoothly between the pivotal scenes. I also hope the heroic characters project an air of confidence and deliver their dialogue in a blunt, unapologetic fashion.

I don't know the actor who plays Rearden, but I think he gets it. Freeze it at 0:39. The look on his face as he stares at his factory. It's love, it's pride, it's reverence. That's as it should be.

And that smile he gives his weaselly brother at 0:56 - perfect.

I'm not sure about Dagny, she doesn't seem quite severe enough, and I really don't think her character would have perfectly-plucked eyebrows. But she is thin and angular, which is right for the character.

I've heard complaints about Eddie Willers being played by a black man. Snide comments about "affirmative action casting". Whatever. He appears clean, professional, and competent. That's Eddie in a nutshell. I didn't picture him as black when I read the book, but there's absolutely no reason why he couldn't be.

Physically, the various politicians & bureaucrats look either doughy, sleazy, or corrupt. Well-casted.

Finally, there's comments about the "high-speed train" in the movie, and comparisons to Obama's high-speed rail fantasies. But let's remember the three big differences between Taggart's train & Obama's:

1) It's privately owned
2) It's profitable
3) It's hauling freight, not passengers

It's hard to make an accurate prediction from a 2 minute trailer, but I think I'll be happy with the movie, although I'm sure I'll be sad that some of my favorite parts will have to be omitted due to time and the fact that some good parts of a book, if rendered faithfully, would wreck a predominantly visual experience like a motion picture.

Out of necessity they'll have to pare this down to the main story, which revolves around Hank, Francisco, Dagny, and John. Consider anything we get outside these 4 as pure gravy. Sorry, folks, but Ragnar is optional.

PS Having it open on April 15th... brilliant.


  1. I've been meaning to read it for the longest time. I don't think I'll see the movie until I read the book (if I ever do).

    If someone had told me they were making a movie out of it, I would have thought it was a joke, but hey, here it is!

    And it looks pretty good.

    (Also, do you have to read The Fountainhead first?)

  2. Joey - Actually, I think you might be better off seeing the movie first. If you read the novel first, you're apt to feel shortchanged by the film.

    I saw the Fountainhead movie first. Thought it was pretty damn good. Then the book topped it, and it felt like a bonus.

    And no, you don't need to read the Fountainhead first.

    A head's up on the Fountainhead movie - the dialogue is stylized, rather than naturalistic. It's designed to move things along, rather than sound like something you'd overhear while riding the subway.

    Some people consider it a flaw. I see it as an artistic choice. Either way, it's a style you don't see much in modern movies any more. As a film student, I'm sure you're familiar with it, though.

  3. I see they're going to release it in 2 parts, (like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.) Good! It's too long and complex a story to be able to do it justice in just one movie. I'll definitely go see it!