The *Atlas Shrugged* movie trailer

by on February 12, 2011 at 7:58 am in Books, Film | Permalink

Via Allison Kasic and Chris F. Masse, here it is.  Apart looking like a bad movie, I found this jarring.  It should be in black and white, or muted colors, with the palate and overall look of a Visconti film.  It has some Art Deco architecture (good), but signs of the modern world intrude at the wrong moments.  It should not have high-speed rail (will this confuse conservatives?  Did those governors end up cutting Medicaid and coughing up the money?) and it should not postulate unrealistic speeds for freight trains.  It should not have 2011 cars and Dagny Taggart should not look like a mousy actress imitating Nicole Kidman playing a local news reporter.  "If you double cross me, I will destroy you" doesn't ring true.  Hank Rearden's line about only wanting to earn money comes across as either a parody of Gordon Gecko or as something worthy of Gecko's parody.  To be properly post-Wall Street, Rearden must somehow contain and yet leapfrog over Oliver Stone's vision; a pretty boy look will not suffice.

1 Pat Mathews February 12, 2011 at 4:38 am

Actually, thee are two ways to play it – late 30s, or contemporary. The two periods are parallel, you understand. But no, the only high-speed rail around should be the one Hank and Dagny build. Casting, I'm not going to say; I watched it with the sound off. But my first impulse was "Who's that bejeweled blonde? Lillian Rearden?"
And yes, you're dead on about Hank. Gordon Gekko and his ilk should be firmly placed with the villains; Hanks' claim to be better was based on the fact that he actually DID something.

2 John February 12, 2011 at 5:52 am

It's been so long since I've read the book that a lot of the details don't come immediately to mind. I came away from the trailer with the impression that it's going to be more Hollywood than Rand/book.

A interesting comment from the related documentary clip regarding the loss of good engineers. I suppose Galt sneaking them all away from society to his hidden gulch isn't quite the same as what everyone his complaining about these days, and could we really equate India or China to Galt's Gulch?

On the question of Galt's Gulch, I seem to recall that it was hidden from view by some type mirror-type device that made it look like a mountain top was above the valley. That should be easily dealt with as a holographic display.

Bottom line to me is that the ratio of pure entertainment to social commentary in it will be a good bit less than in the old The Fountainhead movie (and black and white worked very well in that one).

3 Ian Lippert February 12, 2011 at 5:57 am

Looks terrible. I don't recognize any of those actors which doesn't bode well for it's production quality.

4 Steve February 12, 2011 at 6:32 am

I read that Angelina Jolie was going to be in the lead. What happened?

5 Jason Pelker February 12, 2011 at 7:09 am

It's hard to sympathize with the John Galt character when most people these days are well aware of corporate off-shore bank accounts, tax write-offs, government bailouts, lobbyist groups, CPACs, the Citizens United case, etc.

When Atlas Shrugged was written, Rand's readers wanted to believe that business and government were separate, warring factions and that business was synonymous with the people. It's become very obvious that today, government and big business are not only in collusion, but that they are often one in the same.

As was always the case, the "people" are actually employed by both entities, but in truth, only the richest and most powerful officials are allowed to create and control wealth. And again, I seriously doubt they need or deserve any sympathy.

6 honeyoak February 12, 2011 at 7:26 am

As a devout libertarian I have to agree.

7 Andrew February 12, 2011 at 7:48 am

The reason being, of course, is that the engineer or applied scientist is the personification of 'no bullshit.' It isn't really about politics. It is apolitical, vehemently.

8 David N. Welton February 12, 2011 at 8:15 am

I see that it’s “Part I”. Does this mean that Galt’s speech will be “Part III” or thereabouts?

9 figleaf February 12, 2011 at 8:52 am

"It has some Art Deco architecture…"

Funny, I've always associated Rand with socialist-realist art. Probably because at the same time I was forced to read her for class I was also learning that the opposite of Marxism is still Marxism. (It was for a course on influential toxic political philosophies.)

At any rate her New Anti-Soviet Man philosophy was and is as contemptible as her antagonists' New Soviet Man.

Just based on her novels, let alone her generally resentful and self-pitying non-fiction, it's obvious that she was a) raised by servants rather than parents and b) never had children of her own. It's also obvious from her writing and from the accounts of her acolytes, that she either got stuck in, or else just never matured past, the emotional maturity of a middle-schooler. Her whole "going Gault" conceit is pure playground antic — little kids think all you have to do is take your ball and go home. Worse, and completely inconsistent with her nominally anti-collectivist philosophy, in her novels all you have to do is *collectively* take your ball and go home. Meanwhile, in a real entrepreneurial world, if a hat full of corporate executives or arbitrageurs got permission from their boards of directors and creditors "go Gault" they'd merely create opportunities for business people who wish to expand markets for their products and services.

Assuming they'd be missed in the first place. Since the kind of people who fantasize about "going Gault" are instead already "going Holden Caulfield," that's not a safe assumption.

Anyway, since the passing of Leni Riefenstahl I can't imagine anyone being able to give Atlas Shrugged the cinematic treatment Rand no-doubt believed it deserved.

figleaf

10 James February 12, 2011 at 9:07 am

This doesn't seem like it'll capture the mood of the book at all. It's all bright and modern-ish. The actors don't seem quite right either. A really good Atlas Shrugged movie seems possible, but I don't think this'll be it.

11 Andrew February 12, 2011 at 9:31 am

I try.

Cut them some slack. It could have been done as a comedy considering the clowns and pirates we have to work with today.

12 NFQ February 12, 2011 at 11:04 am

Hahaha, it opens on April 15! (The federal income tax deadline this year is *actually* April 18, but still.)

13 Terrible February 12, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I am so depressed right now. This looks TERRIBLE.

14 Jon February 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Ayn Rand's version of libertarianism is a fantasy worthy of an adolescent. Why on earth would Tyler care about this movie?

15 Justin February 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Dagny is a brunette.

16 Keith February 12, 2011 at 5:12 pm

It's funny how Ayn Rand and Timur Kuran share similar insights.

17 Michael R. Brown February 12, 2011 at 6:33 pm

This is a hasty review. Too bad! It's set a little bit after the present day – deliberately.

18 Jacob February 12, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Dagny drives a Camry?

19 Ken Payne February 12, 2011 at 10:12 pm

It does, indeed, look dreadful. Someone should start a betting markets pool as to whether there will every be a "Part II"

20 SteveV February 12, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Jeez dude… what a buzzkill you are.

Did you criticize the trailer for Star Wars "The millenium falcon is way too fast. Lightsabers shouldn't make a swoosh sound"

It's freakin' fiction man!

21 JoeDog February 13, 2011 at 4:12 am

I found the book unreadable and the trailer unwatchable…

22 AnotherPhil February 13, 2011 at 10:01 am

"Because things were so much better for everyone in the fifties. "

Who said they were better for EVERBODY? The then cracking remnants of Jim Crow and high marginal tax rates, among other things were terrible..

On the other hand, to be a middle class kid in the 50's statistically was likely to include two parents (the kid's-not one or one and some unrelated adult), schools with learning and without gun play or violence, movies anybody could attend, pants with cuffs rather than exposing the upper reaches of one's posterior. A high school diploma meant a job, a college degree meant a promising career. Oh and none of those wonderful cable channels that a four year old can't accidentally land on to discover the kind of sex that's not sex according to Bill Clinton. Certainly some of these things were present, but avoidable.

To assume that the present is uniformly and indisputably better than the past is simple-minded. Life is more complicated and certain aspects of it are regressing, degrading or imploding.

23 AnotherPhil February 13, 2011 at 5:06 pm

I can see you want to be argumentative, but then you should be cognizant of the your own statement "Because things were so much better for everyone in the fifties.".

The point was, for SOME people, the fifties were better-and in some ways, even better even for those that it's an article of faith that life is indisputably better for now.

Women always had "successful careers", even if their career involved being Chief Domestic Officer-but many "successful careers" are functions of necessity, not desire. And of course, now that women are able to secure any EMPLOYMENT-they, like men are now empowered to lose their jobs without warning, just like men and deal with all the BS that goes on in the workplace. Of course, more then men, "successful careers" often come at the price of betting the house against their maternity.

Even for people of African descent-especially that portion living in the inner city- who can aspire to any job they see-assuming of course, if they overcome the widespread fatherlessness,violence, inadequate schools and other wonderful bequests of left and it's god, the omnipresent welfare state. George Wallace and lynching has been replaced with gangs and drive-by's. Just a few weeks ago, there was teenager in my local TV station's broadcast area-by all accounts, a good kid-slaughtered for no apparent reason. Ask him if 2011 is better.

I didn't say we are now in dystopia – because the present time is not uniformly and indisputably hopeless for everyone-but for some, there is a persistent fear that society is disordered and oppressive-with good reason. The point was to challenge your snarky red herring that the fifties were better for everybody. For some it was, so your absolute is negated.

I don't know how long you need to go on. I see no benefit in it, so do it as long as it serves your purposes.

24 James A. Donald February 13, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Bernard Yomtov
The question is whether the present is a dystopia, or even whether the present is, on the whole, better than the past. I think so. I think it's clear.

It is perfectly clear that the present is worse in those matters where Rand predicted things would get worse, that government, business, and social institutions in today's present work the way depicted in "Atlas Shrugged", particularly in the last four years or so: Corruption, exploding regulation, crony capitalism, technological decline, and so on and so forth. In the 1950s we were about to go into space. In 2010s, we have retreated from space. The tallest building Americans have ever built was built in 1970, the two towers have fallen down and cannot get up.

As for Jim Crow and so forth, not an issue addressed in "Atlas Shrugged", but rather a complete change of subject, take a look at "Amos and Andy", which was set in the real black society of the time. Are blacks that used to be culturally and socially dominated by a black middle class better off for living on welfare and being culturally and socially dominated by thugs? Are blacks better off for having affirmative action but not having fathers?

25 Adan February 14, 2011 at 8:59 am

Oh, and that movie looks like it was brought to you by the producers of the Omega Code.

26 Lemmy C. February 14, 2011 at 9:29 am

At the point people start bring in the apologetics for Jim Crow as making "those black people" happier, you know someone has unleashed the crazy.

27 Chris Granner February 14, 2011 at 10:36 am

I've always had a soft spot for (almost) any crew who could actually accomplish the herculean task of making a "big" movie, and this certainly promises to be one. I read Rand in college, and found a lot to compel me; I was fortunate to be compelled to quote Rand at a pithy TA, who laughed, said "what, have you been reading RAND!?" When I said, well, yeah, he groaned and answered, "Oh, God…at least read Marx. Or better yet, read Max Weber's 'The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.'" So I did, and thus began the career of a progressive libertarian. But I digress…

Back to the movie: I can't wait! I love "big" movies like this, and I'm delighted to hear they'll stretch this truly epic story out over 4 such movies. Bad theory? Adolescent politics? Dated industrial backdrop? WHO CARES!? This phenomenon may actually engage a critical-mass proportion of the population to think about Governance and budgets and discourse and self-respect.

Or not. But it'll still be tremendous! (Like I said I have a soft spot for "tremendous" movies…)

Happy, healthy, safe & serene,

-cg

28 Richard Bottoms February 14, 2011 at 11:46 am

Ah, soothing fiction for white folks who long for the good old days. I wouldn't trade one second of the "tranquility" of the 50's for the right to vote and participate in the workplace just like anyone else I have to day.

In the 50's the South remained a barbaric gulag that trapped black people into poverty and government sanctioned terrorism.

Given the 400 year head start John Galt and his brethren had it's no wonder they have wealth and privilege and even engineering knowledge to build their empires with.

I'll take my vote and a million crack babies and ghetto thugs if that's the price of being a citizen.

29 James A. Donald February 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Adan wrote:
Are you familiar with the Teapot Dome Scandal? Tammany Hall? Prohibition? Ayn Rand raged against things that were a cancer on freedom, democracy and capitalism, but they aren't any worse today than they were then

I find your statement totally bizarre.

It seems very strange that you can suggest that present day corruption and regulation is on a scale remotely similar to the past. Just look at the sums that are being blown away today, and compare them, as proportion of GDP, with the sums that were being blown away then.

I'm sure if everyone agreed to pour another 500 Billion dollars back into NASA's budget, we could be on Mars in no time

Are you being sarcastic? It is obvious that no amount of money could get us back to the moon or beyond. The two towers are still down, we have not built a big building for forty years. If money could get us to the moon, money could get the two towers up again.

30 Philip February 18, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Subject: Tyler's Many Mistakes

> It should be in black and white, or muted colors, with the palate and overall look of a Visconti film. [Tyler]

You're being too fussy: There's more than one way to make a movie from a very rich and complex book.

> it should not postulate unrealistic speeds for freight trains.

Same point. Look more to the essentials.

> Dagny Taggart should not look like a mousy actress

Boy, I guess our tastes in women differ. Taylor Schilling is absolutely stunning.

> "If you double cross me, I will destroy you" doesn't ring true.

Well, how could it ring true? It's only a two minute trailer and there hasn't been enough shown to motivate the implacability or determination? Plus you're making the mistake of assuming that the language has to be identical to what would work in a book.

> a pretty boy look

What's your point? The lead characters can't be good looking?

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