I saw Atlas Shrugged Part 1. There were 21 of us in the theater at an 8:05pm showing on Friday night. 21 is a lot more than were in the house for Kill The Irishman or The Way Back.
I liked it. It’s not the great work of art the novel deserves, but it has enough of the original in it to be entertaining and interesting.
I was struck by how realistic the story is. Atlas Shrugged might be the most realistic novel ever written. It’s amazing how the egalitarians in the movie sound like they stepped right out of the Obama administration. Compared to the mindless dreck that Hollywood usually churns out, it’s great just to see a movie that makes sense and has ideas.
Instead of thinking of what might have been, I just took the movie as it is. One can focus on the negatives, but I was more thrilled by the positives. Rand’s story is powerful enough to make a flawed dramatization still moving.
I hope the producer makes enough money to go ahead with part 2, and I hope he learns from the criticism to do a better job. If they had just followed the novel and made a three-hour movie, as this screenwriter suggests, it would have been so much better. Maybe they can get it right in part 2.
Most of the criticism is the same trash you get whenever intellectuals write about Ayn Rand. You can dispose of any review that says Rand is a bad writer, the story is for adolescents, Rand is a Nietzschean and last, any review that finds it important to note that Ayn Rand slept with Nathaniel Branden. That’s just the ad hominem nonsense you get from the left and the right — from people who have little understanding of her ideas.
Other criticism has been from fans of the novel who are disappointed at how far short the film falls. These critics make a lot of good points. There are problems with the script and some characters, such as Jim Taggart, are woefully miscast.
I say go see the movie. It’s good enough to see. Let us hope it spreads by word of mouth, because movie box office can only be good for novel sales, and that is what our culture desperately needs.
UPDATE: Upon further reflection, I think less of the movie than I first did. The screenwriting and directing are far, far less competent than I judged them to be. It is a bad movie, especially when compared to the book.
The worst thing is not that it’s monstrous or criminally offensive to Ayn Rand’s ideas, but that it is just so… ordinary. It is a product of our gray, value-deprived culture. The movie is a measure of just how bad off our culture still is.
If a filmmaker with first-rate vision and intelligence ever makes the movie this novel deserves, then we will see in sharp relief how awful this first attempt was. And we will feel outrage because a good dramatization will show that this feeble effort is not the best we can expect, although it is the likely product of a culture of mediocrity.
Still — book sales. If the movie gets people to read the book, that’s a good thing.