“Atlas Shrugged” comes to the movies

After decades in limbo, Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand’s magnum opus about an increasingly collectivist society and corrupt government that punishes the successful business person and industrialist, and thereby causing the world’s producers to go on strike – is finally headed to the Silver Screen. 

Rand’s work, published originally in 1957, and which has enjoyed steady sales ever since, has received increased attention in recent years due in large part to massive government bailouts, mounting government debt, and debates over increased taxes – all issues identified more than half a century ago by Rand as factors in the demise of America’s historic free enterprise system and the progress that accompanied it.  Signs with the phrase “Who is John Galt?” – a question appearing throughout Rand’s novel – has become a common theme at tea party rallies across the country as concerned Americans protested Big Government, as exemplified by last year’s federal health care law. 

Sales of Atlas Shrugged have skyrocketed. Forbes recently noted that 125,000 copies of the book were sold in 2007, but by 2009 sales exceeded 450,000 – putting Rand’s most well-known novel back on the best-seller list more than 50 years after its original publication. 

This is not the first time a film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged has been attempted. Rand was first approached with the idea in the early 1970’s by Albert Ruddy, producer of The Godfather. But Rand wanted to ensure that her philosophy promoting individualism and rational self-interest was properly represented in film. Ruddy rejected Rand’s demand, and the project died.  A plan to turn the book into a miniseries fell through the cracks in the late 70’s. Rand was working on a screenplay when she died in 1982. 

In recent years, there have been rumors of a high-priced adaptation starring some of Hollywood’s most famous actors. However, producer John Aglialoro, who bought an option to make the movie in 1992, has opted to go with a low-budget approach, dividing the more than 1,000 page novel into three parts. 

There has been some skepticism about the film among fans of Atlas Shrugged.  The film’s main actors are not among Tinsel Town’s most well known – Taylor Schilling will star as Dagny Taggart, the novel’s heroine, with Grant Bowler appearing as industrialist Hank Rearden. 

In a July interview with Reason.tv, it was made clear the actors and director Paul Johansson all seem to understand the importance of the message in the new film, is to personify through their performance the nobility of man as a rational being. 

Johansson explained the reason it has taken so long to bring Atlas Shrugged to film, is because people either do not understand its message or have been intimidated with prospect of bringing such iconic characters to life. In response to concerns about the lack of big name stars or action sequences, Johansson says, “this movie isn’t about that.” 

It is fitting the movie is set to be released on Friday, April 15th, a day synonymous with government coercion, as Americans are traditionally required to file and pay their income taxes on that date. 

Rand’s work has helped mold philosophical and political viewpoints for well over half a century. Let’s hope Aglialoro and company got it right in this cinematic depiction of a philosophical celebration of individual liberty and rational thought.

- by Bob Barr, The Barr Code

137 comments Add your comment

Jared Ballowe

January 19th, 2011
6:22 am

I am glad that this is being published, as far as it goes this and Nietzsche are the top forms of atheistic views of thinking today. I do not beleive it will be successful though, too deep for people to understand fully. Either that or it will be worshiped as a bad-ass character much like the Nietzsche inspired Joker is with the Dark Knight.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

January 19th, 2011
6:30 am

Good morning all. I look forward to the movie. I perceive the movie depicts “producers” as they are, as normal people who work hard. Thus the icons will not be larger than life, although they will be stronger than all around them. I am encouraged that the movie will be divided into thee parts; the harrowing world at the end of part one will look familiar to all of us.

jt

January 19th, 2011
6:53 am

- If men want to oppose war, it is *statism* that they must oppose.

Ayn Rand – Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal p. 42

ajkpoin

January 19th, 2011
7:03 am

The Dems are going to hate it.

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Tim

January 19th, 2011
7:12 am

Double feature with something from Roger Moore ? Fair and balanced.

Donny Corleone

January 19th, 2011
7:17 am

The producers probably had to go with unknowns. The socialistically leaning “elite” actors of Hollywood probably couldn’t act well enough to convince us that they were supply-siders. Those would be performances beyond Oscar quality.

liberal libertarian

January 19th, 2011
7:28 am

Just remember, if you take away government, your liberties will be stolen by those people in power… the wealthy, the business owners, the powerful. If you want to maintain your liberties be wary of the government as well as all of the elites who wish to take it away.

Joel Edge

January 19th, 2011
7:32 am

Just read the book. Hollywood will screw it up, as usual.

Jimmy62

January 19th, 2011
7:37 am

Will the movie have the monologue? That’ll be a good time to go take a piss.

Darwin

January 19th, 2011
7:55 am

Who is John Galt? He is the collection of Wall Street greed that people who ran Enron. He is supported by the Republican party in their continued effort to consolidate the wealth and leave the citizens with just enough to make their monthly payments. Red state Georgia may revere John Galt, but he will give you enough of the rope to hang yourselves.

Tedd

January 19th, 2011
8:04 am

Darwin, is your last name Toohey?

devildog0300

January 19th, 2011
8:05 am

Hollywood changed the timeline of the Old Testament in filming Noah’s Ark. Why would they leave Atlas Shrugged alone?

bill

January 19th, 2011
8:07 am

well now we know both darwins were wrong. My friends, coworkers and golf buddies cannot understand the voicing of self interest. It does sound unkind to the uninitiated but…There is nothing wrong with self and family first attitudes.

BC Alum

January 19th, 2011
8:10 am

I don’t need to read the book or see the movie, I can just read the plot synopsis on Wikipedia.

Darwin

January 19th, 2011
8:10 am

In the early 1950s, Alan Greenspan began an association with famed novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand that would last until her death in 1982. Rand stood beside him at his 1974 swearing-in as Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.

In a congressional hearing on October 23, 2008 Greenspan admitted that his free-market ideology shunning certain regulations was flawed. However, when asked about free markets and the ideas of Ayn Rand in an interview on April 4, 2010, Greenspan clarified his stance on laissez faire capitalism and asserted that in a democratic society there could be no better alternative. He stated that the errors that were made stemmed not from the principle, but the application of competitive markets in “assuming what the nature of risks would be.”

Well, at least we can add the epilogue to the movie.

CJ

January 19th, 2011
8:15 am

No Darwin, John Galt was collective image of people who had an idea and through hard work made that idea a reality in the form of a business or industry. He is the one who provides goods and services, creates jobs and raises the standard of living for society. He is the one that the elites in Atlas Shrugged detest because he earned his success. The symbol of greed in the book is not John Galt, it is the government that wants control of what was created by others. You should read the book.

Darwin

January 19th, 2011
8:18 am

“…while in high school she determined that she was an atheist and that she valued reason above any other human attribute.”

Put that in your bible belt.

CaribouRancher

January 19th, 2011
8:21 am

The fact that it’s being released in April tells you that the studio does not think it’s a great movie. That said, it will still be on my “must see” list.

blackbird13

January 19th, 2011
8:28 am

Philosophy aside, a poorly written book; and the philosophy isn’t so different from what the Nazi’s espoused.

Suckers

January 19th, 2011
8:30 am

Won’t hold a candle to the novel, and now every idiot that sees the movie will think they have an understanding of Rand’s message.

Tychus Findlay

January 19th, 2011
8:30 am

It appears that we finally agree on something, CJ.

Darwin

January 19th, 2011
8:41 am

You want free markets? OK, to eliminate government control of the economy let’s start with Lockheed Martin and other corporations which exist only to build weapons for the government. Stop runaway spending on military, Social Security, and Medicare. I dare you to run for political office on that platform. Rand was a product of the Russian Revolution. There is no similarity between Rand’s life in Boshevik Russia and the U.S. Her philosophy is simply not relevant.

carlosgvv

January 19th, 2011
8:46 am

Atlas Shrugged is a long book with a simple message. The author’s ideal world is a everyman for himself society with the strong prospering and the weak falling by the wayside. In other words, it is far-right Republican.

Citizen of the World

January 19th, 2011
8:49 am

It will be interesting to see this book made into a movie, but it should be made in black and white, since that would pretty much reflect Rand’s simplistic worldview.

Buzz G

January 19th, 2011
8:54 am

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the public school teachers who forced their students to sit through Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” would themselves be forced to sit through a showing of “Atlas Shrugged.”

Joe the paleo-neo-Plutocrat

January 19th, 2011
8:54 am

Darwin, save your breath. any reference to Ayn Rand or Atlas Shrugged produces a Pavlovian foaming of the mouth amongst the “rationally self-interested” sect. like most “rational” folks, I read quite a bit, and I have twice tried to read Rand’s infantile prose (she was an amphetamine-gobbling, script-polisher, which makes her more Jack Kerouac (”On the Road” also published in’57) than Adam Smith. and that’s not to say she was not a talented writer, but as with Keruoac (or Dylan, or Cobain, or any other literary icon), she was a purveyor of fiction and her use of the words “rational self-interest” in lieu of narcissism is, well, by defintion the essence of pathological narcissism. here success or failure in terms of populare culture is moot. she is the 1957 version of Lady Gaga and little else.

Joseph Szala

January 19th, 2011
8:57 am

@Darwin – Only if you choose to hang yourself. With that rope, I’d build an empire. Freedom means having the right to make choices and live, or die, by them.

Citizen of the World

January 19th, 2011
9:00 am

The thing that bugged me the most about Atlas Shrugged was that Rand seemed to think these godlike industrialists sprang fully formed from the earth, like gods, and she never acknowledged that whatever success they had deserved to be attributed, not just to their own efforts, but to the blood, sweat and tears of labor, to the strength and security of community, and to the genius of countless minds who came before.

Also, she portrayed these industrialists as perfectly fair and ethical beings who, of course, would need no government regulation. But we know that just because you lead a business, it doesn’t mean you are fair and ethical or even competent.

The truth is, if there were no government regulation, business leaders would clamor for it. Not for their own business, you understand, but for the businesses that they do business with. They would want to be protected from each other, just like the citizenry needs to be protected from them.

Joe the paleo-neo-Plutocrat

January 19th, 2011
9:04 am

Here’s some tea party word association: Atlas Shrugged – Passion of the Christ. Ayn Rand – Mel Gibson. Dabny Taggart – Jesus.

Donovan

January 19th, 2011
9:08 am

Lord, Almighty! I can only imagine the knashing of teeth and the howling from all the Looters within the Democrat Party. I only hope that it will be done right and that it will become a smash hit. You don’t suupose that the Accademy Awards Board will nominate any of the proposed actors, do you? Naaaaaaah….

q

January 19th, 2011
9:17 am

Politicians respond to crises that they created by spawning new programs, laws and regulations. These inturn, generate more havoc and poverty.. Benevolent sounding programs like the “Anti-Greed Act”. That would be Charlie Rangel’s “Soak the Rich Act”. The “Anti Dog Eat Dog Act” aimed to restrict cut throat competition and bankruptcy.

The central idea is, the more incompetent you are in business the more handouts the politicains will give you. That would be the 2 trillion of subsidies doled out to keep insurance companies solvent.

Finally, the solution to all the economic chaos, abolish the income tax and fire all the government employees. The President wants the opposite, raise income taxes and hire more employees.

Joe the paleo-neo-Plutocrat

January 19th, 2011
9:21 am

OK Randians, you need to stop drinking the tea-flavored Kool-Aid. the evil leftists in “Hollywood” are far more self-interested and far more “industrial” (as in ‘the film industry’) than any fictional railroad tycoon. the irony is palpable (true, real world industrialists “producing” a film about fictional industrialists and taking it to market). who is John Galt? I think he’s the head of Warner Brothers or Paramount. let’s leave the world of fiction for a moment. as I have repeatedly averred, plutocrats are not ideologues. plutocrats employ and conscript (many times unwillingly) ideologues to ’sell’ their self-serving (self-interested) social order. for the love of Pete, Ronald Reagan tried to cite Bruce Springsteen as a political “brother” in 1984. again, Atlas Shrugged is no more valid than The Wizard of Oz, the Hobbit trilogy, the Godfather, or any other 20th century novel in terms of socio-economic/political commentary, and as noted, it is far more ponderous and indigestible than many of the aforementioned tomes (fyi, couldn’t handle Tolken’s prose, or the film adaptations, either)

Daniel Boone

January 19th, 2011
9:22 am

Carlosgvv

Are you capable of an original thought other than your factless, anti republican, anti corporate rhetoric? Maybe you are really Cynthia Tucker who isn’t capable of an original thought either.

Common Man

January 19th, 2011
9:24 am

Bob – Now that you are into films, perhaps on Friday you can give us your review of the recently released movie The Green Hornet. Loosen up your thumbs.

Joe the paleo-neo-Plutocrat

January 19th, 2011
9:24 am

oh, and you’re all fools if you think the “industrialists” who produce Atlas Shrugged will not benfit from any number of tax breaks, government subsidies, and other forms of corporate welfare. again, people, there’s the real world and there is “somewhere over the rainbow”. things are a bit less ‘dreamy’ here in the real world. if I only had a brain?

Citizen of the World

January 19th, 2011
9:25 am

It’s been a while since I read the book, so I don’t remember the exact details, but another thing that bugged me about Atlas Shrugged was that one of the “heroes” in the book was a saboteur who deliberately went around disrupting the flow of people, goods and materials. Yet the overall philosophy of the book held that what prevented free enterprise from working perfectly was government interference.

Joe the paleo-neo-Plutocrat

January 19th, 2011
9:37 am

Citizen of the World, or as Richard Nixon once said; “…when the President does it, it’s not breaking the law…” the problem with Rand’s observations, as has been noted by Darwin, Donovan and a few others is; in the real world, the very “government” vilified by Rand in Atlas Shrugged, is in fact an agent or facilitator for the (rational self) interest of business. I suspect the sabateur was “pardoned” by Rand because in her narrow mind, any law (destruction of private property, murder, rape, child molestation) were de facto “regulations” which prevented sabateurs, rapists, pedophiles, and murderers from excercising their “rational self-interests” in a truly free-market. and you know what the best part is; I’m something of a closet anarchist, and when the poop hits the fan, people like Dabny Taggart will be the first to be raped, murdered, and likely eaten by the more dominant “industrialists”. or as Axyl Rose and GnR observed, “you know where you are? you’re in the jungle baby, you’re going down…..”.

Citizen of the World

January 19th, 2011
10:05 am

Joe, you mention the jungle, which reminds me of “The Jungle,” by Upton Sinclair. Anybody who reads Atlas Shrugged should also read The Jungle to see where unbridled free enterprise leads. It gave rise to the FDA, one of the first regulatory agencies.

The big government that the right so deplores was given rise by big business and big wars. It’s all getting rather unwieldy, and it would be great if we could take big war out of the picture, but at any rate, we need big government as a countervailing force against big business.

The problem arises when, as you note, big government becomes an agent or facilitator for the self interest of big business and does not prevent them from, but rather aids them in, abusing the worker, screwing the consumer and raping the environment.

This all makes it even more important that the other countervailing forces — the citizen/consumer and free press keep a close eye on what’s going on and hold these two powers accountable. Yet we continue to elect crooks and watch sensationalized opinion rather than thoughtful news and commentary.

Davo

January 19th, 2011
10:15 am

I tend to tow the libertarian line; however I can’t stand this book and the following it gets. Mostly because it’s too long, too boring and has characters that are paper-thin. The message itself is what really irks me because as a Christian it’s message is in direct opposition to teachings of Jesus. I don’t see how anyone can embrace both philosophies and not be considered a hypocrite.

Joe the paleo-neo-Plutocrat

January 19th, 2011
10:15 am

Citizen, I agree, with one exception. I question your use of the word “need” as in “we need big government as a contervailing force against big business.” we can “need” all we like, but such dreams are as pointless as Rand’s dream of a world without regulation. “big business” and “big government” are what make a plutocracy. ergo, we really don’t “need” either. in fact, any plutocracy “needs” citizens/consumers to serve its own (rational) self-interests. I find it interesting that Bob referred to “The Godfather”. the Godfather is a great 20th century novel, which has become part of American popular culture because of “cannoli” and “make him an offer he can’t refuse”. I tend to look to Micheal’s comment to (corrupt) Sentaor Geary (in the begining of Godfather II): “…senator, we’re both part of the same hypocrisy (plutocracy)…” that said, I don’t view Mario Puzo or Francis Ford Coppola as anything other than screenwriters and directors.

carlosgvv

January 19th, 2011
10:16 am

Daniel Boone

Almost everything on these pages has to do with politics, money and business so of course I write about it. If you think what I say is factless, why don’t you factually refute it. If Cynthia or Bob or Jay want to talk about life on Mars, I will write about that. Since your intellect is obviously limited, I hope this is not too hard for you to understand.

BC Alum

January 19th, 2011
10:27 am

this article has really brought the pseudo-intellectuals out of the woodwork!

zeke

January 19th, 2011
10:29 am

Fitting day of release! Fitting because the theme of the book has arrived! The federal government, and in fact, the state governments have become what was the theme of terror in her book! WE MUST LEGALLY MAKE THE GOVERNMENTS GO BACK TO ONLY STRICT CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY!

zeke

January 19th, 2011
10:32 am

the USA is not a democracy, but, A DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC! DESIGNED AS SUCH BY THE FOUNDERS! THE GOVERNMENT RUINED THAT BY CHANGING THE WAY SENATORS ARE ELECTED! AS ORIGINALLY SET UP, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES WERE ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE AND WERE THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PEOPLE! THE SENATE WAS ELECTED BY THE STATE LEGISLATURES AND WAS THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE VARIOUS STATES! WHEN THAT WAS CHANGED, IN EFFECT THE STATES HAVE NO VOICE IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT! THAT IS A CRIME AND NEEDS TO BE RECTIFIED!!!

snoortz

January 19th, 2011
10:44 am

i hope the bigoted mel gibson directs, he sure can get all the hater arses in the seats

Dr. Pangloss

January 19th, 2011
10:53 am

Ah yes, Ayn Rand: the writer for people who want to think that they’re thinking but can’t.

Anna

January 19th, 2011
11:02 am

Atlas Shrugged is my favorite novel; I love it. I’m excited to see how the movie turns out (if it plays near me). Hopefully it is done well enough that people will be interested in going and reading the book.

Important Hollywood Executive

January 19th, 2011
11:06 am

Sean Penn is slated to play John Galt.

Joe the paleo-neo-Plutocrat

January 19th, 2011
11:23 am

BC, actually, I think “pseudo intellectual” is an accurate description of the prolific Ms. Rand