Atlas Shrugged: Part One
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Ayn Rand's timeless novel of rational self-interest comes to life for a new millennium.". The year is 2016, and America is on the verge of economic disaster. The greatest citizens are being targeted, and dark forces are working to bring about America’s final days. Our only hope for salvation lies with Dagny Taggart and Henry Rearden, rugged individualists whose bold ideas may have the power to spark a revolution and reclaim to the American Dream.
After years of trying, somebody finally made a film out of Ayn Rand's big-selling novel of "rational self-interest," Atlas Shrugged. Well, got a start on it, anyway, with this 2011 release of Part One (of three). The sprawling novel is necessarily telescoped down to size, and the focus is on railroad magnate Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling) and her intricate strategies involving a piece of real estate in Colorado, an ongoing economic collapse, and the rugged individualist, Hank Rearden (Grant Bowler), whose new metal alloy might come in handy for laying new track. Of course, the real issue in Rand's scenario is not metal alloy but the fact that government regulation and a misguided sense of collectivism and altruism is strangling the elite members of society, something the movie reminds us of with grim regularity. As a kind of boardroom-plotting movie, Atlas Shrugged isn't incompetent, and if director Paul Johansson hasn't devised a way to make these heavy-handed discussions come to life, at least it keeps moving along. If you like Rand's objectivist philosophy, you'll bask in the glow of having those ideas reaffirmed, and if you're uninitiated, well, they certainly are laid out there in stark fashion. (And if you find Rand's ideas absurd, you'll find this movie a little like watching a cult meeting.) As to the question "Who is John Galt?" you'll have to move on to Atlas Shrugged: Part Two, released in 2012, to pick that up--but be ready to work at sorting the plot out anew, because Part One's cast has been replaced by a new roster of actors. --Robert Horton
Road to Atlas Shrugged
I Am John Galt
"The John Galt Theme" Slideshow
Commentary with John Aglialoro, Brian Patrick O'Toole and Harmon Kaslow
Top customer reviews
The original book by Ayn Rand from 1957 successfully defied movie makers until 2011 when “Atlas Shrugged Part 1” came out. Even at that the book proved to be so powerful that it took three installments to cover the entire volume. The fact that the films were made at all can be placed at the feet of John Aglialoro, a millionaire businessman. He has been trying to get the film made since 1992. Aglialoro is a persistant sort. Rand would have been proud of him.
Parts of the film reach out into Science Fiction. One of the two major characters is a steel magnate who invents a form of steel that is 'twice as strong, half the weight and half the cost' of ordinary steel. In science fiction we call such a material 'unobtainium'. There is also a new kind of motor that the steel baron and the lady rail road boss are trying to track down that somehow converts air into power very cheaply. But they don't have a grip on that technology by the end of the film.
The steel baron, Hank Rearden, and the lady rail road boss, Dagny Taggart are skillfully played by Grant Bowler and Taylor Schilling respectively. Schlling is just old enough (and a capable enough actress) that we can believe she has the juice to run a big business. She is also more than pretty enough for us to believe that the steel baron might fall for her.
The direction by Paul Johansson is competent enough. But Ross Berryman as cinematographer should have been fired after filming the first scenes. The film is so dark as to be impenetrable, particularly early on. Director let it stay that way, so maybe they had a plan, some sort of atmosphere idea perhaps, but it didn't work for me. It just looked poorly filmed from my angle.
As a movie this just isn't much entertainment. It only makes points as political fodder, and perhaps pointless fodder as the only folks who went to see it were already committed to the ideas of self reliance and antipathy to the hard, irrational and remorseless hand of government in the first place. In any case, it took in less than $5 million at the box office against a claimed $10 million budget.
I admit to not reading the original book. It must have been better crafted than the film. Among its other flaws is the jagged, halting way that the story unfolds. It lasted only one hour and 42 minutes which to me left plenty of time to fill in some of the gaps in the story line. We know that Mrs. Steel Baron is a bitch but not why. We know that Ms. Railroad had an unsuccessful love affair with the Mexican business tycoon, but not what happened between them.
But as political theater it works fine. The baddies are government officials, their toadies and bank rollers. They have no morals but enormous power to do evil. The heroes are driven individuals that want to make a place for themselves in the world and who in pursuit of that simple goal take the rest of us along for the ride.
I will think of this as part 1 of a three part film and hope that the films as films get better. For now, it is an exercise in preaching to the choir.
Two saw blades for this darkly filmed, jaggedly written attempt at political propaganda. PG-13.
For a much more successful film on Ayn Rand's work see “The Fountainhead”, a 1949 film staring Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal and Raymond Massey.
The storyline is gripping and interesting and keeps you going at a pretty good clip throughout. My friend was nice enough to lend me the movies to watch after he had watched them all in sequence of course. Full of thought provoking ideas and possibilities, based on the best seller by the same name.
Regardless of one's views (or ignorance) of Ayn Rand and her philosophy... do NOT use this movie as a reference for her beliefs. Whether intentionally or by accident, the writers and the director completely lose ANYTHING of value in attempting to impart even an OUNCE of the message from the novel.
And part 2 is as bad.
Re-read the book. Skip the move.