“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

Preston

January 19th, 2011
11:17 pm

Tom, how could any rational minded person compare Rand to Hubbard? Scientology is a cult. Objectivism is a philosophy that asks people to look within themselves for REASON and INDIVIDUALISM. If you’ll take a second to think about it, scientology is a group of kooks that are directed to live by irrational rules and behavior. Objectivism only asks people to live by a moral code that doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s basic human rights.

jt

January 20th, 2011
6:58 am

Most of these government-indoctrinated dummies just don’t get it.

If you rationally live just for yourself, then you ARE giving back to society. In a more effective way than all of the gun-point charity that government steals from you combined.

And Ms Ayn was not against government. Government exists ONLY to protect your property. Anything else is tyranny or theft.

It REALLY is that simple.

Kilgore

January 20th, 2011
8:45 am

I hate to pop your balloon (payment), Bob Barr, but the phrase “individual liberty and rational thought” is meaningless.

You can’t represent that generic mantra on film. You can’t project it with acting. You can’t narrate it with story. This movie will stink big time because of that fact. We are rebels only when we were rebels: 1776! (when it was appropriate to rebel against something). Look, If you sees a rebel, then ax him what he’s rebeling against. If he sez, “Whadya gots?”, then you knows you’re talking to a moron.

Secondly, Atlas Shrugged’s premise is incorrect and convoluted. We have had a debt crisis for two hundred years, and it hasn’t mitigated our growth ever. If anything, it accelerated it.

There are only four forces in nature, and only four truths in man’s quest to define his existence: We are born. We get older. We fall behind in our taxes, and then we die.

Four. Count ‘em. 4

It’s what our country is all about, and I think it’s in our preamble. But people needs to sells books and movies and then we all get to be punctured by writers like Rand, and because we all love a doomsday story, (which justifies our live for the moment borrowing), we listen to “wise old writers” like Bob Barr and his Chicken Little/Soylent Green/ tummy tomes.

EJ Moosa

January 20th, 2011
9:28 am

jt,

you are more than right. If they cannot read the dozen or so words on a cigarette pack and get that message, how would they be able to grasp the themes within Atlas Shrugged?

People are threatened by anything or anyone that may take away something that they feel they are entitled to yet have not earned. And for that reason, they attack anything that may require themselves to take on additional responsibility for their own benefit.

dbm

January 20th, 2011
9:37 am

@ Joe the paleo-neo-pseudo intellectual Plutocrat

January 19th, 2011
4:38 pm

I do not believe in a “Creator” either. The foundation of rights is the recognition that we get the best results in our dealings with other people when we refrain from initiating the direct or indirect use of physical force against them.

A rationally self-interested person approaches other people in the spirit of a trader who exchanges value for value. A rationally self-interested person recognizes that it does not make sense for either party to an interaction to sacrifice himself or herself for the other.

dbm

January 20th, 2011
9:41 am

@ LeeH1

January 19th, 2011
5:16 pm

None of these women were scraping or groveling. Dominique had a serious psychological problem, but eventually overcame it.

dbm

January 20th, 2011
9:47 am

@ Joe the paleo-neo-pseudo intellectual Plutocrat

January 19th, 2011
5:21 pm

Miss Rand recognized that government does have a legitimate role to play, namely defending each of us against the initiation of direct or indirect physical coercion.

The way to get away from plutocracy is to restrain government so that it will not be a tool for plutocrats and will not make rich people think they need to become plutocrats in self-defense.

Dave from GT

January 20th, 2011
9:52 am

Look at all the comments, Barr hit a home run this time. I wish that he and Cynthia Tucker would hook up on a joint column, what a shot that would be !

Joe the paleo-neo-psuedo intellectual Plutocrat

January 20th, 2011
1:15 pm

dbm, my issues are not with Rand as a philosopher or observer of the human condition in an academic sense. my issue is with her as a purveyor of trite, shallow fiction, which has been presented as some sort of libertarian dogma. at its core, objectivism or “rational self-interest” is a Utopian fantasy; it is a theory, or “hope” at best. your observations about the ‘way to get away from plutocracy’ is only half correct. we need to “restrain” the self-interest of business. as I noted to Hemispheres, the Randian model is circular, a Catch-22 at best. have you read any Adam Smith? he basically gave “Ike’s” farewell address (warning of “unwarranted influence” and the “disasterous rise of misplaced power” in the “Wealth of Nations”. He did warn of the Military-Industrial complex, per se, but he did warn of private industry currying the favor of government – privtae industry “regulating” government, as it were. unlike Smith, Rand specifically targets governement as the “boogeyman” but as I said, in a plutocracy, the plutocracy is the boogeyment, and the plutocracy is a hybrid beast of both government and business interests. it serves its OWN (self) interests, which is like calling “checkmate” to Rand’s “objectivist” fantasies. perhaps I would be less critical, were I to read her non-fiction. last time I checked, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, et al didn’t write novels. as I noted yesterday; I do not believe Oswald acted alone, but I tend to favor the observations of the late Jim Garrison and othe historians, as opposed to the fictional musings of Oliver Stone, who is a film-maker and not a historian.

Joe the paleo-neo-psuedo intellectual Plutocrat

January 20th, 2011
1:30 pm

dbm, and how has “trading” (or “mercantilism” in Smith’s era) worked out for us? generally leads empires, which ultimately leads to wars (and the entangling foreign alliances, Washington warned of in his farewell address). in order to “trade” (in Smith’s era) the seas must be secure, and laws must be enforced? upon whom should merchants rely to provide such services? he DoD or Blackwater Secrurity? did Haliburton not benefit from Bush’s decision to go to war? I’m not saying that goverment is not a necessary evil, but in the plutocratic model, so is “trading” because it is in the “self-interest” of a trader or merchant to exact additional value in a transaction, and more often than not, history has shown that “situational ethics” (or outright corruption) trump “rational self-interest”. I am by no means an expert on Smith (or Rand), but it seems to me Adam Smith was not offering a judgment or thumbs up/thumbs down, he basically was saying, “here’s the tricky part…” or as Franklin observed upon leaving the Consitutional Convention; “…you have a Republic, if you can keep it…” sadly, I don’t believe we have, and I simply don’t see Rand’s fantasies as viable alternatives, or germane in terms of restoring the republic. Oh, and I misspoke earlier. I am more inclined to listen to James Garrison, as opposed to Kevin Coster, who played James Garrison in JFK. the fact that Dagny Taggart is even mentioned in this blog seems a bit silly to me.

dbm

January 20th, 2011
1:53 pm

@ Joe the paleo-neo-pseudo intellectual Plutocrat

January 19th, 2011
5:21 pm

There is no circularity. The Randian position on government is built up from a recognition of the nature of government and of the moral principles that must be applied to physical force. This is explained in the two essays I already recommended.

An economic analysis of the benefits of a free market can also be carried out in a noncircular manner.

What complicates these issues is that there has been a historical tendency to blame the free market for problems caused by wrongful government interference, and to use those problems as a pretext for more government interference.

dbm

January 20th, 2011
1:55 pm

@ Joe the paleo-neo-psuedo intellectual Plutocrat

January 20th, 2011
1:30 pm

We get empires and wars because people introduce physical force into economic dealings. The solution is to keep physical force out by limiting government to its proper function of defending against direct or indirect physical aggression.

Roark

January 20th, 2011
2:04 pm

Ayn Rand is the architect of the future. If you want to know where we’re going, study her work.

Joe the paleo-neo-psuedo intellectual Plutocrat

January 20th, 2011
4:25 pm

dbm, is your last name Rand? whom do you think “introduces physical force into economic dealings”? do you think armies go to war because they’re bored, or just like picking fights? did Rand even acknowledge the existence of a military-industrial complex? or did she simply believe ALL armies should be private enterprises. armies go to war to protect (interests) or steal wealth and it is not too much of a stretch to make wealth an extension of mercantilism (trade). I am all for ExxonMobil and Haliburton paying Blackwater to further their interests in the Middle East, but why would these marvelous “free market” “private sector” models of efficiency and wealth-building “buy the cow when they can get the milk for free” (US taxpayer)? now, if Ayn Rand wants to pine for a world (free market) in which everyone plays fair, well as I said, such pining is infantile and delusional. did you not read my comment about the “free” (generous term) markets ‘regulating’ government? the truth is, BOTH forces, when unchecked (regulated) drift (or run full speed) to into a world of situational ethics (which means no ethics). it just doesn’t work that way in the real world.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

January 20th, 2011
6:09 pm

We are on strike against those who believe that one man must exist for the sake of another … our terms are a moral code which holds that man is an end in himself and not the means to any end of others …

That one concise yet all encompassing Ideal changed my life in 11th grade. It’s the core principle of my existence, and my adherence to it has only strengthened in the 9 years since. The inept attempts by liberal collectivists to sling arrows at it during college were easily rebuffed by the sheer perfect logic of the principle. Others needs or wants does not constitute a duty or mortgage upon ME, nor do my needs or wants constitute a duty or mortgage upon others.

Kamchak

January 20th, 2011
6:25 pm

Ayn Rand is the architect of the future. If you want to know where we’re going, study her work.

I read all of her work before the age of 18, then I grew up and realized that she is just a narcissistic sociopath that can pen just so-so romance novels.

It wasn’t until later that I found out that she was a paranoid methamphetamine addict then it all made perfect sense..

jt

January 20th, 2011
7:03 pm

Kamchak

One doesn’t need Ayn Rand to know the truth,

nor to rationalize.

Look at Haiti or Detroit for your Wesley Moochniesque schemes.

We are on strike against those who believe that one man must exist for the sake of another … our terms are a moral code which holds that man is an end in himself and not the means to any end of others …

Kamchak

January 20th, 2011
7:07 pm

We are on strike against those who believe that one man must exist for the sake of another …

And stay on strike if it pleases you. The world will not notice it one way or another.

Joe the paleo-neo-John Donnest

January 20th, 2011
8:08 pm

as I said, Rand’s philosophical observations may be worth discussion, but her prose were trite, infantile (perhaps adolescent – I stand corrected) nonsense. agle, anyone wanna hear a “concise, yet encompassing ideal that extends beyond high school? check out this drivel:

“if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

as Kamchak said; you want to go on strike, go on strike. Oh, and is in the use of the words “we are on strike…” a “collectivist” affirmation? and please explain how people on strike are no “existing” for the sake of another (actually, a whole bunch of “anothers”)? as I said (like 15 times), the logic and reasoning is circular and profoundly narcissistic. but hey, narcissists are the center of the universe, ergo; all the “anothers” “exist” for the sake of the narcissist.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

January 20th, 2011
8:37 pm

Strike simply means I will not contribute Re: taxation, volunteerism, or even giving a damn what happens when local state and federal governments default on their debt as is currently on the precipice(sp) for states such as Obamanois and Democratifornia. It does not mean I will quit making money, being self sufficient, and become a clayton county style mooch.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

January 20th, 2011
8:38 pm

..And others not noticing is part of the plan..

Joe the paleo-neo-psuedo intellectual Plutocrat

January 20th, 2011
9:06 pm

Trisha, I urge you to look up the word PLUTOCRACY. all your questions will be answered. as I said yesterday, you (and Ayn Rand) can rant all you like, but you are a citizen of the United States and you aversion to paying “local, state, and federal” taxes is moot. and you cause is noble, but you lose points with me if you have ever flown a commercial airline, listened to commercial radio, traveled on any local, state or public road/highway; or purchased gasoline.

jim skinner

January 20th, 2011
9:54 pm

There is no one who could really understand what Dagny Taggert is thinking because of ayn rand’s obcession with sex. It detracts from the overall story because rand has to put Dagny in bed on every other page.

the original and still the best John Galt

January 20th, 2011
9:57 pm

Any mention of Rand or her novel brings out the Statists in droves and causes them to drag out all the usual brickbats. I am certain the movie won’t equal the novel, but if it causes even a few people to refuse to live as serfs and to wake up and begin to fight, it will be an outstanding effort.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

January 20th, 2011
10:00 pm

Maybe the obsession with sex is why Bill Clinton’s rambling lip bitting anecdote laced eulogies for such deceased sacks of liberal biomass as: coretta king..Ron Brown..Teddy ‘the keg’ Kenedy, and Dick Holbrooke, never seem to make sense..or come off as sincere.

Kamchak

January 20th, 2011
11:03 pm

…rand has to put Dagny in bed on every other page.

Same thing with Dominique Francon in The Fountainhead which, coincidentally was on TCM this morning. In an odd bit of role reversal, Ms. Francon was the bed-hopper while all the men were strangely, monogamously devoted to her.

Roark! Roark! Just give up architecture, I’ll keep house for you and we can live in the country together on daddy’s money!

Too funny!

Oh, and the scene where Gail Wynand can’t find anyone to work for The Banner for “any amount of money”? I just can’t buy that. Only in an author’s controlled reality would that happen.

marko

January 21st, 2011
6:14 am

Ayn Rand takes on Glenn Beck, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTf6NK0wsiA
Tea Baggers of the world sit down together, talk things over, and get back to us when you decide just what the hell it is you want.

dbm

January 21st, 2011
9:30 am

@ Joe the paleo-neo-psuedo intellectual Plutocrat

January 20th, 2011
4:25 pm

I didn’t say there were any innocent countries.

dbm

January 21st, 2011
9:36 am

@ Joe the paleo-neo-psuedo intellectual Plutocrat

January 20th, 2011
9:06 pm

It is impossible to live in the world we have today without becoming entangled in improper government interference. This does not mean we should give up and die. It means we should make sure we lead basically productive lives. It means we should not support any of the improper government interference.

dbm

January 21st, 2011
9:41 am

@ Joe the paleo-neo-psuedo intellectual Plutocrat

January 20th, 2011
1:15 pm

If we had a properly limited government, private industry would not be able to regulate it in an improper way. If we had a properly limited government, private industry would not have temptations dangled before it. If we had a properly limited government, private industry would not have to “regulate” it in self-defense.

Slap Maxwell

January 24th, 2011
6:56 am

Darwin, you’ve alread exposed the fact that you haven’t read the book and fail to understand the phiolosophy. Why continue to make yourself look like a fool by continuing to point out to us your failings? Just curious….

Slap Maxwell

January 24th, 2011
6:59 am

Jim Skinner is another person who hasn’t read the book, apparently — or read it and hopes enough other people haven’t so that his misrepresentations will be taken as fact by the ignorant. Try to quit projecting your own fantasies onto a fictional Dagney, son, and your life might actually turn out to mean something.

Properal

January 24th, 2011
6:55 pm

@ Darwin
It is interesting that Alan Greenspan blamed the free market for the damage he did while he was chairman of an institution prescribed in the fifth plank of the communist manifesto.

saywhat?

January 24th, 2011
7:29 pm

It is always so funny to see the Rand worshipers defensively accuse her critics as being unable to “understand” her work. Those libertardians have such a lovely smarmy way about them. If only we were their intellectual “equals”, we would “understand” all the “nuances” of an adolescent fantasy book. Right.

dbm

January 25th, 2011
1:09 pm

@ saywhat?

January 24th, 2011
7:29 pm

People who attack Ayn Rand tend to make statements that are false. The falsity of these statements is clear to anyone who understands her work.

I see a lot of statements that Ayn Rand’s work is “immature” or “adolescent”, but I don’t see any proof.

Have you read any of Ayn Rand’s nonfiction?

Eric Rhein

January 25th, 2011
7:27 pm

Great article, Rep. Barr. Nice blog too. Thanks.

Marty

January 25th, 2011
9:37 pm

Now that we have heard from the pseudo intellects — probably of the 30’s something crowd — who did all their research on Goggle– maybe those of us — who have been aware of the crisis for years — and are truly of the 60s — and read “Shrugged” — we can take pride in knowing we knew all along ! And by the way evolution intellects — if we evolved from apes — why are they still here ! back to your Star War mentality !! MHG